President Alain Berset will travel to Botswana and Mozambique next week. While in Botswana the aim will be to raise contacts to a new level and in Mozambique President Berset will foster Switzerland’s longstanding relations with the country–. In both countries, the regional situation and global issues will be discussed in addition to bilateral topics – also with a view to Switzerland’s work in the UN Security Council.
In mid-May, President Berset will chair a meeting of the UN Security Council in New York on the protection of civilians in conflict areas. The trip to Mozambique in particular should be seen in this context. The aim is to hold in-person talks on this topic with authorities at different levels of government, international organisations and NGOs. Further trips to African and South American countries with conflict zones are planned in the coming months.
In Botswana, where the focus will be on bilateral relations, President Berset and his delegation will be received by President Mokgweetsi Eric Keabetswe Masisi on Monday, 6 February. This will be the first visit to the country by a Swiss president. Political discussions will focus on areas in which relations between Switzerland and Botswana are to be intensified. On Tuesday, February 7, 2023 the two sides plan to sign a memorandum of understanding on cooperation in the health sector.
The programme also includes a visit to the renowned Botswana Harvard AIDS Institute Partnership (BHP), where the Omicron variant of the coronavirus was discovered. President Berset is also due to visit the National Assembly, and then meet with representatives from Swiss companies operating in Botswana the following day.
Botswana’s capital, Gaborone, is also the headquarters of the Southern African Development Community (SADC), where President Berset will meet with SADC Executive Secretary Elias Magosi and exchange views on the organisation’s goals and Switzerland’s engagement in Southern Africa. Relations with regional organisations such as the SADC are a priority of Switzerland’s 2021–24 Sub-Saharan Africa Strategy.
Political discussions in Maputo
On Wednesday, February 8, President Berset and his delegation will travel on to Mozambique. Political talks with President Felipe Jacinto Nyusi will take place in the capital Maputo. Switzerland has supported Mozambique as a priority country for development cooperation since 1979. It also played a central role in the conclusion of the 2019 peace agreement and in overcoming the consequences of the long-standing civil war.
In addition to an appraisal of bilateral relations, the official talks will also cover global issues given that Mozambique, like Switzerland, is a member of the UN Security Council in 2023/24 and so has the opportunity to advance issues of common interest.
On Thursday, February 9, 2023, the Swiss delegation, accompanied by President Nyusi, will visit the province of Cabo Delgado in the north of the country. Due to violent unrest since 2017, around 1.5 million people in the area are dependent on humanitarian aid. Switzerland is working here to ensure access to basic services such as water and healthcare, and promotes training and income generation. It also supports the decentralisation process. The agenda for the presidential visit on Thursday also includes talks with international actors in the region.