Swiss National Council Call Federal Government to Open Embassy in Eritrea


A large majority of the National Council would like to open a Swiss Embassy in the Eritrean capital Asmara, as soon as possible.

Swiss National Council calls government to open Embassy in Eritrea
The Swiss National Council adopted a Motion with 140 votes to 13, with 25 abstentions, calling the Federal government to open a an Embassy in the Eritrea as soon as possible.


The National Council calls on the Federal Council to immediately open an embassy in Eritrea’s capital, Asmara. By a large majority, it adopted a motion of the SVP with this demand on Wednesday.

The presence is intended to allow the Swiss to assess the situation in the country first hand. In addition, relations could be established to the negotiation of a readmission agreement, said SVP spokesman Maximilian Reimann (AG).

With Foreign Minister Didier Burkhalter, he favours open doors – at least in principle. However, he advocated a step-by-step approach. In a first step, a Swiss Attaché will be assigned to Asmara.

For the Federal Council, the establishment of a permanent Swiss mission in Eritrea is conceivable. However, that is a gesture with political content, Burkhalter explained.

For this, certain conditions must be met. As long as there is courtesy of Eritrea, they were not fulfilled.

“It would be wrong to give everything without preserving something,” Burkhalter explained.

Burkhalter spoke out against the motion, which was demanding the reduction of Swiss presence in Sudan’s Khartoum.

It was a crossroads of the migration routes, where the efforts to combat irregular migration would be coordinated, Burkhalter said.

However, the National Council adopted the initiative by 140 votes to 13, with 25 abstentions. This now goes to the Council of States.

No condition to support projects

With 98 to 91 votes and 3 abstentions, he rejected a motion by Thomas Burgherr (SVP / AG). The latter called for Eritrea to grant development aid only when the country is ready to conclude a readmission agreement.

Burgherr was was referring to the announcement by the Federal Council last December, to carry out a limited number of development programmes in Eritrea.

Projects for the creation of employment and vocational training are planned initially.

Burkhalter spoke of a “gradual approach”. This is the prerequisite for the fact that a readmission agreement is at all possible within the realm of possibility. Eritrea does not even meet the minimum conditions for such an agreement today.

As an example, Burkhalter mentioned the lack of access to the prisons or the unlimited national service.

“Both sides have to take steps,” he emphasized. In his opinion, the purpose of the Motion is therefore already fulfilled.