Middle East and North Africa (Development) Division

The Middle East and North Africa Division is part of the State Secretariat at the Federal Department of Foreign Affairs (FDFA). The division manages and coordinates Switzerland's bilateral relations with countries in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region. These 18 states are divided into three sub-regions: North Africa (Algeria, Egypt, Libya, Morocco, Tunisia); the Middle East (Iraq, Israel, Jordan, Lebanon, occupied Palestinian territory, Syria); and the Arabian Peninsula and Iran (Bahrain, Iran, Kuwait, Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, United Arab Emirates, Yemen).

The MENA Strategy 2021–24 guides Swiss foreign policy strategy in the region. The strategy is based on Switzerland's Foreign Policy Strategy 2020–23. During the 2021–24 period, Switzerland's activities in the MENA region will focus on the following five areas:

1. Peace, security and human rights
2. Migration and protection of people in need
3. Sustainable development
4. Economic affairs, finance and science
5. Digitalisation and new technologies

In North Africa, Switzerland's engagement will focus on good governance, sustainable economic development and the facilitation of safe and orderly migration. Switzerland promotes access to employment for women and young people.

In the Middle East, Switzerland will support efforts to achieve a political solution to the conflicts in Syria and between Israel and Palestine. Humanitarian aid for refugees in Syria and neighbouring countries is also a priority.

In the Arabian Peninsula and Iran, Switzerland is committed to interstate dialogue via its protecting power mandates and practical initiatives with the aim of contributing to peace and security in the region. The Gulf states are also some of Switzerland's most important trading partners in the MENA region.

The MENA Division plays a central role in implementing Switzerland's strategy in the MENA region. Acting as a hub between Swiss representations and national governments in the MENA region and federal departments in Switzerland, the division ensures that all Swiss interests are taken into account and that the objectives set out in the MENA strategy are implemented coherently.

The MENA Division:

  • makes recommendations to the Federal Council on the strategic direction of Switzerland's foreign policy in the MENA region
  • formulates policy positions in line with Switzerland's interests and objectives based on developments in the MENA region
  • accompanies and organises visits for the head and state secretary of the FDFA and the President of the Swiss Confederation to meet with government representatives from MENA states
  • conducts annual policy consultations with countries in the MENA region by organising the discussions and implementing their outcomes in close cooperation with other units
  • provides assistance from Bern to Swiss ambassadors in the MENA region, such as relevant guidance and support in crisis situations
  • maintains regular dialogue with MENA countries' representations in Switzerland

Switzerland has embassies in 13 of the 18 MENA states:

Map of MENA region including Swiss representations (PDF, 786.4 kB, English)