With more than 20 years of experience in the field of development as part of the Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation, Sybille Suter Tejada, Ambassador of Switzerland to Macedonia, truly understands the importance of supporting the development processes of a country through various measures. Emphasizing Macedonia’s investment potential, she discusses the Embassy’s main priorities and projects.
European Times: What are the main priorities of your mandate as Ambassador?
Sybille Suter Tejada: The good bilateral cooperation between Switzerland and Macedonia, initially established a quarter century ago, is supplemented with the significant support which the Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation, as part of the Swiss Ministry of Foreign Affairs, offers to the country. I was appointed to serve as an Ambassador mainly due to my extensive experience in the field of development and cooperation, as our main goal is to support Macedonia’s EU integration. Among the issues we are dealing with, we put priority on promoting democratic governance. I am proud to say that we introduced community forums on local level, aimed at enabling citizens to participate in the decision-making process of the municipalities. On national level, we supported the creation of a Parliamentary Institute aimed at strengthening the legislative process. Furthermore, we also support the civil society and its active role in bringing together public institutions and people. We also have a number of projects in the field of economic development, water management and protection of the environment.
European Times: In what ways is the Embassy assisting the Macedonian business sector?
Sybille Suter Tejada: We have been supporting the business sector for many years, mainly focusing on micro, small and medium enterprises. The Embassy works usually with Swiss, international or local organisations that support Macedonian SMEs to better position themselves and their products on the market. We support Macedonian businesses to further develop to be able to meet the demands of the Swiss and the EU markets. Furthermore, we serve as a bridge between Macedonian companies and enterprises in these markets,especially in tourism and agriculture, where we see great potential.
The main challenge of the small scale business sector is the lack of information. Enterprises, especially those out of the capital, are not well informed when it comes to issues like funding, product placement etc. Macedonia has substantial capacity for producing high quality produce, but fails to reach it in full due to the lack of knowledge and information. Our goal is to help people, businesses and producers learn how to reach their maximum potential. Similarly, the tourism sector of the country also has significant potential, but more needs to be done for this sector to become successful. In this area, we support adventure tourism, because we believe that Macedonia has a great potential for it, and it is environment-friendly and generates more income for the local population. The challenge is to offer diverse and attractive tourist activities.
European Times: What is your personal message to potential investors?
Sybille Suter Tejada: I would like to encourage Swiss and other European businesses to come and explore business opportunities in Macedonia. While challenges remain, there is also significant untapped potential.