“It is with great sadness that I have learned of the death of Flavio Cotti,” current Swiss Foreign Minister Ignazio Cassis said on Twitter.
“His political spirit will always be present in the foreign ministry,” he added.
According to the regional daily in Switzerland's Italian-speaking Ticino region, which was the first to report Cotti's death, he died Wednesday afternoon in a Locarno hospital “following complications due to the coronavirus”.
Cotti, who was a trained lawyer, rose up through the ranks of the Christian Democratic Party in Ticino, before spending 12 years in the national government in Bern, from 1987 to 1999.
He served as both minister of foreign affairs and of the interior, and twice served as president, in the Swiss system that sees all government ministers hold the presidency on a one-year rotating basis.
He was known for having worked to move Switzerland closer to international organisations, and lobbied for his country to join the UN, something it finally did three years after he left office.
He also worked for Geneva to remain host of the UN's European headquarters, and helped ensure that the World Trade Organization, founded in 1995, was based in the city.