President Sommaruga received on state visit to Ukraine

Bern, 21.07.2020 - On Tuesday, 21 July, during her visit to Ukraine, President Simonetta Sommaruga, held official talks with President Volodymyr Zelenskyy. This is the first bilateral presidential visit by Switzerland to Ukraine. Both sides commended the excellent existing cooperation and stressed that there was great potential for even closer ties, especially economic, between the two countries. Talks focused on the situation in Ukraine, particularly in the east of the country, and global issues such as the COVID-19 pandemic.

Switzerland supports Ukraine’s social and economic transition and the strengthening of its institutions. In launching a cooperation programme for the period 2020–2023 this spring, Switzerland reiterated its willingness to support Ukraine in its reform process and to contribute to finding a peaceful solution to the conflict in Eastern Ukraine. Switzerland is Ukraine’s fifth largest donor, and also ranks fifth in terms of private investment.

During the official talks, both sides stressed the potential for even closer bilateral cooperation. Ms Sommaruga praised the reforms to strengthen the rule of law carried out so far. She reiterated Switzerland’s support for Ukraine in fighting corruption. Four agreements were signed on Tuesday: a general memorandum on cooperation, an additional protocol to the agreement on the re-admission of nationals, a memorandum of understanding on holding the Ukraine Reform Conference in Switzerland in 2022, and an agreement on providing support in the fight against corruption.

During discussions on the situation in Eastern Ukraine, Ms Sommaruga outlined Switzerland’s support for a peaceful solution to the conflict and underlined that this was one of Switzerland’s peace policy priorities. She welcomed the fact that there are frequent positive signals in the process, such as the exchange of detainees that took place in April. Negotiations by the Trilateral Contact Group (Ukraine, Russia and the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe) have been led since January by Swiss ambassador Heidi Grau in her position as OSCE Special Representative. 

In addition to its support for the peace process, Switzerland encourages Ukraine in the respect of human rights, also in areas which are not under the control of the government. Furthermore, Ms Sommaruga reminded those present that Switzerland regards the annexation of Crimea to be in breach of international law.

Global issues such as climate change were also discussed on Tuesday. Ms Sommaruga stressed that Swiss companies have expertise in the climate, transport and energy sectors, which could be of use to Ukraine. With regard to the COVID-19 pandemic, both Switzerland and Ukraine praised their cooperation at a technical level, which has, for example, allowed the production of inexpensive ventilators.

Further programme with visit to Eastern Ukraine

In the afternoon, meetings are planned with Prime Minister Denys Shmyhal and Parliamentary Chairman Dmytro Razumkov. Ms Sommaruga will also attend an event with Ukrainian businesspersons and will visit several green-tech companies. The official Swiss delegation with be accompanied in Kyiv by an small economic and scientific delegation with representatives from the energy, infrastructure and innovation sectors. On Wednesday, 22 July, discussions are due to be held with ministers and Ukrainian civil society representatives.

On Thursday, 23 July, Ms Sommaruga will travel to Eastern Ukraine, where she will discuss the current situation with local officials and specialists in humanitarian aid and development policy. She will also visit a water treatment facility part-funded by Switzerland, which supplies people on both sides of the contact line, and will view a crossing for civilians on the contact line.

Address for enquiries

DETEC Information Service: Géraldine Eicher, 079 211 30 52


General Secretariat of the Federal Department of Environment, Transport, Energy and Communications; General Secretariat DETEC

Federal Department of Foreign Affairs