Federal Councillor Ignazio Cassis meets Graubünden cantonal government as part of dialogue with Italian-speaking Switzerland
Bern, 09.09.2019 - Federal Councillor Ignazio Cassis received the Graubünden cantonal government for talks in Bern on 9 September 2019. The meeting, which focused on the institutional agreement with the European Union (EU) and the promotion of Switzerland's minority languages, was part of ongoing efforts by Mr Cassis to engage in structured political dialogue with the cantonal governments of Graubünden and Ticino.
"Following my election to the Federal Council as representative of the Italian-speaking part of Switzerland and the peripheral regions, I made a commitment to promoting Switzerland's minority languages, Italian and Romansh. I am now making good on that commitment," Mr Cassis said after the meeting. "After visiting Val Müstair, Lostallo and Chur last year, I was in Zuoz on 2 August this year for the 100th anniversary of the founding of Lia Rumantscha. Each year I meet the cantonal governments of both Graubünden and Ticino for a structured political dialogue."
Promoting Italian and Romansh
A key topic discussed at the meeting with the Graubünden cantonal government was the promotion of the Italian and Romansh languages. Mr Cassis highlighted the importance of the 'social cohesion' chapter of the 2021–24 dispatch on cultural promotion, which is currently in the consultation phase. One of its aims is to strengthen school exchanges between the linguistic communities and set up an exchange programme for teachers. Additional funding of CHF 2.5 million per year will be invested in this area. To promote Romansh, language learning opportunities outside the canton of Graubünden will also be supported. The aim is to strengthen multilingualism in Switzerland as a country with four official languages.
In this context, Mr Cassis referred to his proposal of introducing a Romansh language week ('Emna da la lingua rumantscha') at Swiss representations abroad, something he had announced in Zuoz on 2 August. Speaking at an event to mark the 100th anniversary of Lia Rumantscha, an organisation promoting the Romansh language, he had noted that Romansh was a key part of Switzerland's linguistic and cultural diversity. Boosting the two minority languages will also be the focus of a conference in late November 2019 entitled 'Italian and Romansh are Swiss languages too', which is being co-organised by the Federal Department of Foreign Affairs (FDFA) and the Federal Department of Home Affairs (FDHA).
Briefing on the 50th WEF and the institutional agreement with the EU
The theme of the meeting was also the anniversary edition of the World Economic Forum (WEF) in Davos in January 2020, which will take place for the 50th time. Following a trial run in 2018, the federal government now definitely intends to set up a House of Switzerland at this event. The FDFA's marketing agency Presence Switzerland is working closely on this with the Canton of Graubünden.
Switzerland-EU relations and the electricity agreement
One issue of particular interest to the Graubünden cantonal government was the institutional agreement with the EU. Among other things, this will determine the future of the electricity agreement with the EU, which is particularly relevant to Graubünden since it hosts a number of hydroelectric power plants within its mountainous landscape. Mr Cassis gave an update on domestic and foreign policy discussions, reiterating the Federal Council's intention to conclude an institutional agreement with the EU if satisfactory solutions can be found in the three outstanding areas (certain provisions relating to wage and worker protection, state subsidies and the Citizens' Rights Directive).
Discussing the challenges facing minority languages
The dialogue with the Italian-speaking part of Switzerland aims to address the concerns and challenges facing the cantons of Graubünden and Ticino, especially with regard to the minority languages, and to enhance the exchange of information between the Federal Council and the cantonal governments.
Alongside Mr Cassis, the meeting was attended by the president of the Graubünden Cantonal Council, Jon Domenic Parolini, and Cantonal Councillors Christian Rathgeb, Mario Cavigelli, Marcus Caduff and Peter Peyer. They were accompanied by the head of the State Chancellery, Daniel Spadin, and the canton's External Relations Officer, Carlo Crameri.
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