Micheline Anne-Marie Calmy-Rey (born July 8, 1945) is a Switzerland politician, member of the Swiss Federal Council since 2002. She is head of the Federal Department of Foreign Affairs (the Swiss Foreign Minister) and was President of the Confederation in 2007. Calmy-Rey is the fourth woman elected to the Federal Council in history
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Calmy-Rey was born in Sion in the canton of Valais. She graduated with a DEA degree in political science at the Institut de hautes études internationales (HEI) (Graduate Institute of International Studies) in Geneva in 1968.
In 1966 she married André Calmy. They have two children.
Calmy-Rey joined the Social Democratic Party of Geneva in 1979. From 1981-1997 she served as a representative in the Grand Conseil of the canton of Geneva, 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. 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.
On January 1, 2007 she became the second female President of the Confederation in history, the first having been her predecessor, Ruth Dreifuss . She was elected as President on 13 December 2006 by 147 votes.
As President of the Confederation, she presided over meetings of the Federal Council and carried out certain representative functions. Since in the Swiss system, all Federal Councils are considered to be ‘heads of state’, she only 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.
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.
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. 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 Israeli government and US-based Jewish groups criticised the deal. Shirin Ebadi, the Iranian Female Nobel Prize Laureates Peace, also criticised Calmy-Rey for not mentioning human rights and focussing only on trade.