Federal Councillor Ignazio Cassis, head of the Federal Department of Foreign Affairs, will make a working visit to Cairo on 24 and 25 March 2019 to meet with several representatives of the Egyptian Government. Mr Cassis will also take the opportunity to gain insights into Switzerland's cooperation programme in Egypt and deliver a speech at an event marking 110 years of Swiss-Egyptian trade relations.
Egypt is a key partner for the implementation of Switzerland's North Africa Strategy. Since 2011 Switzerland has supported political, economic and social developments in the region as part of its cooperation with Egypt. Furthermore, Swiss activities in the field of migration are also coordinated via the North Africa Strategy. The situation in North Africa and the Middle East will be a key item on Mr Cassis's agenda in Cairo. Egypt currently also holds the presidency of the African Union.
The talks will also focus on bilateral relations, in particular within the framework of international cooperation in Egypt. In this context, Switzerland is working to promote democratic processes and human rights, spur economic development and employment opportunities, address migration challenges and ensure the protection of migrants. Mr Cassis's visit will also afford him insights into specific cooperation projects undertaken by the two countries. One of the highlights of the trip will be a visit on Sunday 24 March to a Cairo-based project aimed at improving the situation of migrants in Egypt. Through its economic and development cooperation activities, Switzerland is also helping to improve the living conditions of the local population.
In the next few years, Switzerland will place an even greater focus on cooperation activities in the Middle East and North Africa. In November 2018, the Federal Council decided that this would be one of the four priority regions specified in the dispatch on international cooperation for 2021–24, which is currently under preparation. Ongoing cooperation with Egypt in the three areas mentioned above will be continued and, where possible, expanded. For example, the two countries recently conducted a first dialogue session on the topic of migration. During his visit, Mr Cassis will also discuss potential migration-related projects.