Federal Department of Foreign Affairs of Switzerland
Address: Bundesgasse 32,3003 Bern
Tel.: +41 800 24-7-365
The Head of the Department of Foreign Affairs
Didier Burkhalter, born on 17 April 1960, grew up in the village of Auvernier on the shores of Lake Neuchâtel. He obtained a degree in economics from the University of Neuchâtel. Before his move into politics, he held a number of posts in the academic world and the private sector. Mr. Burkhalter is married and father of three children.
In 1985 Mr. Burkhalter joined the Radical Democratic Party FDP (now the Liberal Democratic Party). He was secretary of the Neuchâtel branch of the party, before becoming the full-time secretary for French-speaking Switzerland within the FDP Switzerland. He served as a member of the communal parliament of Hauterive in the canton of Neuchâtel und was a member of the cantonal parliament. In 1991 he was elected to the executive (town council) of Neuchâtel, which he chaired for three legislative periods (1994/1995, 1998/1999, 2001/2002). He remained a member of the council until 2005.
In 2003 Mr. Burkhalter was elected to the National Council, and to the Council of States in 2007. During this time he has served on a number of parliamentary committees and was also a member of the Swiss delegation to the Parliamentary Assembly of the Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE).
Didier Burkhalter was elected to the Federal Council on 16 September 2009 and appointed as the head of the Federal Department of Home Affairs (FDHA), a post he held until 31 December 2011. Since 1 January 2012 Mr. Burkhalter is head of the Federal Department of Foreign Affairs (FDFA).
In 2014 Mr. Burkhalter assumed the presidency of the Swiss Confederation and did hold the chairmanship of the OSCE.
The Federal Department of Foreign Affairs forms and coordinates Swiss foreign policy on behalf of the Federal Council, pursues foreign policy objectives, safeguards the interests of Switzerland and promotes Swiss values.
The Federal Department of Foreign Affairs safeguards the foreign policy interests of Switzerland. As set out in the Swiss Federal Constitution, the nation's independence, security and welfare are the top priorities. Swiss foreign policy, for its part, holds to the following values:
- Help alleviate poverty and hardship in the world
- Respect human rights
- Promote democracy
- Promote the peaceful coexistence of peoples
- Conserve natural resources
The FDFA's foreign policy goals and interests are set out in its organisation ordinance:
- Codetermination and participation in international organisations and committees of importance to Switzerland
- Coherent foreign policy
- Quality and efficiency of Swiss diplomatic and consular activities
- Raise awareness of foreign policy among the population