The Francophonie Summit is the highest-level gathering of the International Organisation of La Francophonie (OIF) taking place on 26 and 27 November in the Madagascan capital, Antananarivo. The theme of the summit is ‘Shared growth and responsible development: conditions for stability in the world and in the French-speaking area’. President Johann N. Schneider-Ammann will be representing Switzerland at the summit, which takes place every two years. The president will then travel to Kuwait, where he has been invited to pay a state visit.
The Francophonie Summit provides an opportunity for the Swiss delegation, led by President Schneider-Ammann, to meet with representatives of 80 states – a third of UN member states – to discuss Switzerland’s foreign policy priorities. Among the items on the agenda at the Antananarivo summit is a resolution submitted jointly by Switzerland and Senegal on peace water and security. The Swiss Pavilion in the ‘Village de la Francophonie’ is also dedicated to these themes.
A further resolution submitted by Switzerland and a number of other partners concerns efforts to tackle radicalisation and violent extremism. The aim is to direct attention in the French-speaking world, which in the recent past has been subjected to numerous terrorist attacks, more towards prevention as well as counter measures.
As part of the OIF’s youth strategy, 20 young people including a young Swiss woman will be attending this year’s summit. Switzerland will contribute towards the implementation of the economic strategy adopted in Dakar in 2014 – a strategy which aims to combine economic growth, the fight against poverty and inequality, environmental protection and the preservation of cultural heritage – by participating in a number of vocational education and training projects.
Switzerland has been a member of the OIF since 1996. On the fringes of the summit in Antananarivo, Mr Schneider-Ammann will hold bilateral talks with heads of state and government, particularly from African countries.
Anniversary of diplomatic relations with Kuwait
The president will then travel from Antananarivo to Kuwait. The invitation to pay a state visit forms part of an intensified series of diplomatic visits to commemorate the 50th anniversary of diplomatic relations between Switzerland and Kuwait which began in 1966.
On Monday, 28 November, the president will hold talks with Kuwait’s head of state, Emir Sheikh Sabah Al-Ahmad Al-Jaber Al-Sabah, the prime minister, Sheikh Jaber AI-Mubarak Al-Hamad Al-Sabah and foreign minister Sheikh Sabah Al-Khaled Al-Hamad Al-Sabah. In addition to bilateral relations, discussions will also cover cooperation at international level, regional issues and the good offices of Switzerland and Kuwait.
Furthermore, cooperation in the field of development cooperation should be expanded. A corresponding agreement between the Swiss Agency for Development Cooperation (SDC) and the Kuwait Fund for Arab Economic Development (KFAED) was signed in August. Kuwait is also an interesting partner for Switzerland due to its efforts on behalf of regional stability. International issues such as the situation in Syria, Iraq and Yemen will be addressed.
In terms of economic policy, an appraisal will be made of the free trade agreement between EFTA and the Gulf Cooperation Council covering Bahrain, Qatar, Kuwait, Oman, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates, which entered into force in 2014. Tourism will also be on the agenda as Switzerland is a popular destination for Kuwaitis with 94,000 overnight stays recorded in 2015.Distributed by APO on behalf of Federal Department of Economic Affairs, Education and Research, Switzerland.