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Switzerland has intensive relations with Germany in many areas. This is reflected in the frequency of working visits at all levels, including the highest level, with those German Länder (federal states) sharing borders with Switzerland. In this context, the minister-president of Bavaria, Horst Seehofer, visited Switzerland on 13 February 2012. The promotion of cross-border co-operation is a high priority and is one of the four strategies of Swiss foreign policy.
Baden-Württemberg is an extremely important Land for Switzerland. Main challenges in Swiss-German relations, specifically in the transport and energy sectors, directly concern Baden-Württemberg. Furthermore, the volume of trade between Switzerland and Baden-Württemberg totalled CHF 32.8 bn in 2011, making the Land an important trading partner for Switzerland. About one third of all Swiss exports to Germany go to Baden-Württemberg, while about a quarter of all that Switzerland imports from Germany originate from this Land.
Today, the president of the Swiss Confederation, Eveline Widmer-Schlumpf, has received the minister-president of Baden-Württemberg, Winfried Kretschmann, in Wattenwyl House in Bern for a courtesy visit. The meeting was followed by a working lunch at which Federal Councillor Doris Leuthard, head of the Federal Department of Environment, Transport, Energy and Communications (DETEC) was present. Before and following lunch, Mr Kretschmann had bilateral talks with Federal Councillors Johann Schneider-Ammann, head of the Federal Department of Economic Affairs (FDEA), and Didier Burkhalter, head of the Federal Department of Foreign Affairs (FDFA).
In addition to European issues, the talks focused on bilateral relations and regional co-operation in particular with Baden-Württemberg, covering economic and fiscal policy aspects, accompanying measures to the free movement of persons, and the additional protocol to the withholding tax agreement signed in April 2012. Transport issues were also discussed such as the extension of the Rhine Valley Railway, the new rail link through the Alps (NEAT), and the incoming flights to Zurich-Kloten Airport. Cross-border co-operation between Switzerland and Germany in the energy sector and in the fields of education and research were also discussed.
Following the talks with members of the Federal Council, Mr Kretschmann and his delegation together with representatives of Baden-Württemberg Landkreise (municipal districts) were received in the House of Cantons in Bern by representatives of the cantonal governments and the General Secretariat of the Conference of Cantonal Governments of Switzerland. The visit was concluded with talks between the state-secretary designate of the FDFA, Yves Rossier, and Peter Friedrich, Baden-Württemberg minister for the (German) Bundesrat, Europe and International Affairs.
For further information FDFA
Jean-Marc Crevoisier, Chief Information FDFA, Tel. +41 79 763 84 10
For further information FDF
Brigitte Hauser-Süess, Chief Communication FDF, Tel. +41 31 322 63 01
For further information FDEA
Ruedi Christen, Chief Information FDEA, Tel. +41 31 322 39 60
For further information DETEC
Annetta Bundi, spokesperson DETEC, Tel. +41 31 322 50 02