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Micheline Anne-Marie Calmy-Rey (born July 8, 1945) is a Swissmarker politician who is head of the Federal Department of Foreign Affairsmarker — i.e., the Swiss foreign minister. She has been a member of the Swiss Federal Council since 2002, and was President of the Confederation in 2007.

Early life and education

Calmy-Rey was born in Sion in the canton of Valaismarker to Charles and Adeline Rey. She received her diploma in 1963 in St. Mauricemarker, and received a DEA degree in political science at the Institut de hautes études internationales (Graduate Institute of International Studies) in 1968. In 1966 she married André Calmy. They have two children.

Career

From 1981-1997 Calmy-Rey served as a representative in the Grand Conseil of the canton of Genevamarker as a member of the Social Democratic Party , and served as president of the assembly during 1992-1993. She was president of the Geneva section of the party from 1986-1990 and again from 1993-1997. In 1997, Calmy-Rey was elected to the Conseil d'Etat of Geneva. In 2001 she became head of the Finance Department and president of the Conseil d'Etat.

She was elected on December 4, 2002 to the Federal Council, heading the Federal Department of Foreign Affairs. Calmy-Rey is the fourth woman elected to the Federal Council in history. On December 7, 2005 she was elected Vice-President of Switzerland, a post she held for the calendar year of 2006.

Calmy-Rey is supportive of Switzerland becoming a member of the European Union.

Presidency

On January 1, 2007 she became the second female President of the Confederation in history, the first having been her predecessor on the Federal Council, Ruth Dreifuss. She was elected as President on 13 December 2006 by 147 votes. However, by Swiss tradition, it was a foregone conclusion she would be elected. She had been the longest-serving councillor not to have been President, and had served as Vice-President for 2006.

As President of the Confederation, she presided over meetings of the Federal Council and carried out certain representative functions that would normally be handled by a head of state in other democracies, (though in Switzerland, the Federal Council as a whole is regarded as the head of state). She was also the highest-ranking official in the Swiss order of precedence, and had the power to act on behalf of the whole Council in emergency situations. However, in most cases she was merely primus inter pares, with no power above and beyond her six colleagues.

She had already handled most official visits abroad since being elected to the Federal Council; the head of the Department of Foreign Affairs traditionally carries out such visits.

Micheline Calmy-Rey is a member of the Council of Women World Leaders, an International network of current and former women presidents and prime ministers whose mission is to mobilize the highest-level women leaders globally for collective action on issues of critical importance to women and equitable development.

Gas controversy and trade relations with Iran

Calmy-Rey was widely criticised for putting on a headscarf to meet Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad on March 19 2008. Her appearance together with the Iranian leader sparked immediate negative reactions: Socialist MP Maria Roth-Bernasconi said it was "irritating that she had angered feminists in Iran". Calmy-Rey said in her defence that she was "observing protocol"

Calmy-Rey also prompted controversy by accompanying the signature of a multi-billion dollar natural gas deal of a Swiss energy supply company with Iran. The United States had complained that Switzerland was sending the wrong message when Tehran was subject to UN sanctions. Calmy-Rey pointed out that gas exports were not subject to the UN sanctions. Both the Israelimarker government and US-based Jewish groups criticised the deal .

References

  1. http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/europe/7306621.stm Swiss minister sparks veil outcry, BBC News, 20/3/2008
  2. Swiss Foreign Minister Micheline Calmy-Rey sits during a meeting with Iran's President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad in Tehran
  3. http://www.eda.admin.ch/eda/en/home/recent/media/mcom/single.html?id=17831 Swiss government press release on the natural gas agreement
  4. http://www.foxnews.com/story/0,2933,343672,00.html Jewish Group Slams Swiss-Iran Gas Deal; U.S. Questions Switzerland's Neutrality
Much of the content of this article comes from the equivalent German-language Wikipedia article and the equivalent French-language Wikipedia article (retrieved April 1, 2006).

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