Micheline Calmy-Rey – the face behind “pro-active neutrality” and “public diplomacy”

17. November 2015 – Katharina Schlangenotto

In 1979 she joined the Social Democratic Party in Switzerland. From 1981 to 1997 she was a member of the Grand Council of the Canton of Geneva. This was followed by five years in Geneva State Council, where she headed the Department of Finance. In 2002 Calmy-Rey was elected to the Federal Council. 2007 and 2011 she acted as President of the Confederation.

How did the “allure” woman spent her political time?

Her primarily focus was on the relationship between Switzerland and Europe, the development of Swiss foreign policy outside of Europe as well as the positioning of Switzerland as a mediator in conflicts. The bilateral approach was and is very important to her, this can be witnessed in various sources. The work and interests of Micheline Calmy-Rey seem to be more contemporary than ever. Since 2012 she holds an honorary doctorate at the University of Geneva – in her political years she was primarily concerned with human rights, women’s rights and integration policy, establishing a cultural diversity. Her statements are often extremely charming spot landings. About the time following her political career she likes to say the following: “I used to be a maker. Now I’m a thinker. ”

In an interview with the “Tages-Anzeiger” Micheline Calmy-Rey once was asked about the highlights of her time as Foreign Minister. There were of course quite a few but she specifically mentioned the return of Swiss hostages. These crises, she said, were hard to bear. In negotiations one was always in the weaker position because human lives were at stake. Another thing that impressed me was her TV appearance as a singer. With the song “Les Trois Cloches” she did nothing else but following into the footsteps of famous Edith Piaf.

On another note journalists asked her whether she misses meetings with important political and business leaders. Micheline Calmy-Rey countered in a rather relaxed way that Kofi Annan now acts as a guest lecturer at the University of Geneva. So obviously it’s not mandatory for her to meet them on a political level. In 2014, her book “Die Schweiz, die ich uns wünsche” entered the market. She promises a sometimes provocative analysis of the present. Rather needless to say.

Micheline Calmy-Rey

Former President and Minister of Foreign Affairs of Switzerland