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The FDFA’s cultural activities are meant to showcase the values of Swiss foreign policy. In this way, they promote Switzerland’s image abroad and form the basis of an ongoing dialogue with other countries. For the FDFA, culture is a fundamental tool in advocating the interests of Switzerland. The Culture dossier has been under the responsibility of Presence Switzerland ever since the latter merged with the Cultural Foreign Policy Centre (CFPC) in 2012.
In December 2011, a co-operation agreement concerning Swiss policy on cultural activities abroad was signed by Federal Councillors Micheline Calmy-Rey and Didier Burkhalter, demarcating the areas of responsibility between Presence Switzerland and Pro Helvetia.
At the federal level, still other actors play a role in Switzerland’s cultural relations with foreign countries. Each one pursues its own specific objectives, with the FDFA ensuring the coordination between the various bodies by means of the so-called “Quartet” working group, which meets three times a year. The members of this working group are:
- The Federal Office of Culture, which determines Swiss cultural policy;
- The Pro Helvetia Foundation, which promotes cultural exchange between Switzerland’s linguistic regions and its cultural milieu, while fostering Switzerland’s cultural relations with foreign countries;
- The Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation (SDC), a part of the FDFA, which provides local cultures with assistance as part of its development cooperation activities;
- Presence Switzerland, whose task it is to improve Switzerland’s image abroad and support Switzerland’s representations abroad in the implementation of their cultural activities.