Working visit by the State Secretary to Mali and Burkina Faso
BERN, Switzerland, May 31, 2013/African Press Organization (APO)/ -- From 28 to 31 May 2012, a Swiss delegation led by the State Secretary, Yves Rossier, and the Deputy-Director-General of the Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation (SDC), Maya Tissafi, travelled to Mali on a working visit. The purpose of the trip was to reaffirm Switzerland's commitment peace promotion, humanitarian aid and development in the region. In this light, Switzerland has decided to resume its decentralised budgetary aid to Mali. An agreement to this effect was signed in Bamako. Prior to its visit to Mali, the Swiss delegation made a stop-over in Burkina Faso.
Switzerland has been active in Mali and the region for a considerable period of time, and is closely monitoring political, security and humanitarian developments there. The visit by the Swiss delegation was an opportunity to hold a number of official meetings, in particular with the Malian Prime Minister, Diango Cissoko. During the talks, the Swiss delegation was able to gain an overview of the many challenges currently confronting the country and to discuss with various interlocutors the best way to co-ordinate responses to them.
Mr Rossier and Ms Tissafi also assured their different discussion partners of Switzerland's continued support for the efforts of the regional and international actors accompanying the political dialogue in Mali - which includes all those who renounce terrorism and accept the country's territorial integrity and secularism. For Switzerland, a political solution and the restoration of good governance for the benefit of all Malians are an integral part of the responses to the humanitarian crisis and to development gaps.
While in Mali, the Swiss delegation also undertook a field visit to Timbuktu, where it donated school equipment and met the local authorities. Switzerland will contribute to the restoration of the mausoleums that were destroyed in Timbuktu.
Since the military coup in March 2012, Switzerland has provided development cooperation in support of the Malian people through support for decentralisation, access to basic services and job creation in the south of the country. Nowadays, it is aiming to progressively strengthen its commitment in the northern regions, and has decided to resume its decentralised sector budgetary aid, a fund-transfer mechanism that enables territorial authorities to have direct access to public aid resources. For this purpose, the State Secretary signed a commitment with the Malian government in Bamako to transfer CHF 18 million over four years in the presence of representatives of the World Bank. This agreement aims to support seven urban municipalities, including Mopti and Timbuktu in the north of Mali.
Prior to the visit to Mali, the Swiss delegation visited Burkina Faso where it held talks in particular with the Prime Minister of Burkina Faso, Luc Adolphe Tiao, and the Minister of Foreign Affairs, Djibril Yipènè Bassolé. The State Secretary assured Burkina Faso, which is leading the regional mediation of the Economic Community Of West African States (ECOWAS), of Switzerland's support for the political dialogue established to resolve the crisis in Mali. At the request of Mali, Switzerland is committed to supporting this regional mediation process, which has been strengthened through United Nations resolution 2100 of 25 April 2013, which established the United Nations Stabilisation Mission in Mali (MINUSMA).
In Burkina Faso, the Swiss delegation also visited a number of projects being carried out by the SDC, which has been active in the country for nearly 40 years supporting the decentralisation process, elementary education, professional training and rural development.