Botswana’s President Mokgweetsi Eric Keabetswe Masisi will travel to Switzerland with his wife Neo Jane Masisi for a state visit at the end of the week. Together with President Alain Berset, he will attend the Landsgemeinde in Appenzell Innerrhoden on Sunday 30 April. A reception by the entire Federal Council and political discussions in Bern are scheduled for Monday 1 May. The invitation comes as an acknowledgment of Botswana’s democratic traditions and underscores the will to seize the opportunities raised by cooperation. The Federal Council is keen to expand relations with the African continent as a whole.
The Swiss and Botswanan delegations will discuss areas for the development of bilateral relations. These include cooperation in the health sector and culture as well as in economic affairs. A significant part of the discussions will be devoted to regional issues concerning southern Africa and cooperation within the UN framework. Both countries will also outline their positions on current global issues.
Federal Councillor Guy Parmelin, head of the Federal Department of Economic Affairs, Education and Research (EAER), and Federal Councillor Ignazio Cassis, head of the Federal Department of Foreign Affairs (FDFA), will also take part in the official talks. A traditional gala dinner will be held in the evening.
Prior to the official part of the programme in Bern, Presidents Masisi and Berset will visit the Landsgemeinde in Appenzell Innerrhoden on Sunday. Botswana has similar public meetings known as kgotlas, which are essential to the country’s democratic tradition. This similarity with Botswana was already noted by President Berset during his visit there in February, when the Swiss delegation also attended a kgotla.
While relations between Switzerland and Botswana have historically been good but distant, high-level contacts have intensified in recent years. In February, both countries signed a memorandum of understanding on cooperation in the health sector. Botswana’s current efforts to diversify its economy create additional opportunities for economic exchange.
Botswana is a member of the Southern African Customs Union (SACU), which has a free-trade agreement with the European Free Trade Association (EFTA). Its capital Gaborone is the headquarters of the Southern African Development Community (SADC). Relations with regional organisations such as the SADC are a focal point of Switzerland’s Sub-Saharan Africa Strategy for 2021–24.
Following on from a state visit by Ghana’s President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo in February 2020, this upcoming visit underscores the growing importance of the African continent for Switzerland in addressing global challenges. President Masisi’s trip is a return visit after the Swiss president’s recent trip to Botswana.
Distributed by APO Group on behalf of Federal Department of Foreign Affairs Switzerland.