International Burch University hosted Daniel Hunn, ambassador of the Swiss Confederation to Bosnia and Herzegovina, on Wednesday, December 12 for a tete-a-tete meeting with the University management, a guest lecture for students on the topic of Swiss Foreign Policy, and a tour of the campus.
Rector Assoc.prof. Mersid Poturak thanked the Ambassador personally and institutionally for the support Switzerland is providing to Bosnia and Herzegovina in general and to International Burch University specifically, through support of the organization of the upcoming Conference on Migrations.
The rector also presented the University, its study programs, and its initiatives, notably the project dimension through which International Burch University is modernizing its curricula with dozens of other universities from the European Union, upgrading its premises and equipment, and supporting the policy process with its specific cadre of expertise. In addition, he spoke about the Burch StartUp Incubator that hosts several companies at the present and was founded to spur entrepreneurship and the entrepreneurial spirit within students.
This initiative is complemented in other contexts by Swiss development assistance to Bosnia and Herzegovina, which is presently funding several similar incubators throughout Bosnia and Herzegovina.
Ambassador Hunn continued the discussion regarding Swiss development assistance through the lens of foreign policy interests to students, primarily of the Department of International Relations and European Studies, in a guest lecture.
He presented the four foreign policy priorities of Switzerland – peace and security, prosperity, sustainability, and digitalization – highlighting that they are underpinned by the economic interests of Switzerland. In short, the overarching foreign policy interest of Switzerland is its economy and its diplomatic activities are orientated toward economic growth of its private sector.
The ambassador emphasized the special relationship Switzerland has towards Bosnia and Herzegovina, taking into account significant diaspora from Bosnia and Herzegovina in Switzerland, the deployment of troops from Switzerland to Bosnia and Herzegovina as a part of EUFOR, and unique support to the training of judges.
Cooperation in the field of science and research was emphasized as a significant potential for future cooperaiton between International Burch Unviersity and Swiss universities, in which the Swiss Embassy in Sarajevo can provide support, including directly and indirectly.
During the question and asnwer session, Ambassador Hunn noted the significant barriers to increased foreign direct investment from Switzerland in light of political instability despite the efforts of the Embassy and the ambassador personally to facilitate investment, particularly from the BiH diaspora in Switzerland.
Ambassador Hunn concluded the lecture by calling on the BiH government to support Switzerland’s bid to become a non-permanent member of the United Natiosn Security Council for the period 2023-2024.
Following the lecture, the ambassador toured the campus, with an emphasis on the modernized and upgraded teaching facilities, including several computer labs, national clasrooms, and program-specific spaces. It was agreed to continue and intensify cooperation in all fields, including academic cooperation and cooperation with industry.