Saggi di Dodis

Saggi di Dodis 2 (2020/5)

Janosch Fischer

Bundesrat Aubert in Westafrika. Eine Kontroverse aus den Anfängen der Reisediplomatie

In early 1979, Swiss Foreign Minister Pierre Aubert went on a two-week trip to Africa. Five West African countries were to be paid official visits for the first time. Whereas internationally, traveling diplomacy had long been a standard way of maintaining relations, it was used cautiously by the Swiss. With his active foreign policy, Aubert, who had been in office for barely a year, provoked questions about Switzerland’s role in the world, triggering a debate that went far beyond the legitimacy of traveling diplomacy. The trip was made even more explosive by the struggle against apartheid then raging in Africa. Does neutrality demand restraint in foreign policy or does the humanitarian tradition require more participation in world events? The trip to West Africa sparked a political debate in Switzerland about journeys made by the Federal Council, and helped establishing traveling diplomacy as a new norm. In addition, it is symbolic of a continual conflict over foreign policy that, to this day, divides the country into a humanitarian-cooperative and a neutralist-isolationist camp.