Federal Councillor Ignazio Cassis to travel to Latvia, Estonia and Lithuania and take part in Ukraine Reform Conference in Vilnius
Bern, 01.07.2021 - Federal Councillor Ignazio Cassis will make an official visit to the Baltic states from 4 to 8 July 2021. He will travel to Latvia, Estonia and Lithuania. He will also participate in the Ukraine Reform Conference in Vilnius on 7 and 8 July. The talks will focus on European policy, bilateral cooperation and the challenges currently facing the international community. Mr Cassis is attending the Reform Conference in preparation for Switzerland's upcoming chairmanship in 2022.
The trip marks two anniversaries Switzerland is celebrating with the three Baltic states in 2021. A hundred years ago, Switzerland recognised the independence of Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania, and 30 years ago, following the collapse of the Soviet Union, it resumed bilateral relations with all three states. During his meetings, Mr Cassis will emphasise that even without the institutional agreement, Switzerland remains a reliable partner for the European Union.
Bilateral meetings in three countries
Mr Cassis will first travel to Riga, where he will be received on an official visit. He will meet Latvian Foreign Minister Edgars Rinkēvičs, President Egils Levits and Parliamentary Speaker Ināra Mūrniece. To mark the double anniversary, the Swiss embassy in Riga will co-organise with the Riga Jurmala Music Festival a virtual conference on the topic of 'Digital Transformation in Culture' and Mr Cassis will deliver a welcome address to the participants.
In Tallinn, talks will focus on digitalisation and cyberdiplomacy. Based on the priorities of Switzerland's Digital Foreign Policy Strategy 2021–24, Mr Cassis will discuss the current challenges in this area with his Estonian counterparts. He will also visit the NATO Cooperative Cyber Defence Centre of Excellence and the e-Estonia Briefing Centre. The programme also includes talks with Minister of Foreign Affairs Eva-Maria Liimets and Parliamentary Speaker Jüri Ratas.
Last, Mr Cassis will travel to Vilnius, where he will meet his Lithuanian counterpart Gabrielius Landsbergis and visit an exhibition of Swiss election posters as part of the anniversary celebrations.
Ukraine Reform Conference
The visit to Vilnius will focus on Mr Cassis' participation in the Ukraine Reform Conference, a high-level event that has been held in a different country each year since 2017. This year's edition is particularly relevant, as Switzerland will officially take over the chairmanship from Lithuania when the conference ends on 8 July and will co-host the next edition with Ukraine in Lugano in 2022. The aim of the conference is to support the reform process in Ukraine and formulate recommendations for action. Switzerland will host the event in 2022 against the backdrop of its significant and long-standing commitment to Ukraine: since 1999, Switzerland has supported Ukraine's reforms through humanitarian aid, development cooperation and peacebuilding efforts. At this year's conference in Lithuania, Mr Cassis will hold bilateral talks with various stakeholders, including representatives of the Ukrainian government.
Members of the National Council Corina Gredig (Political Institutions Committee member) and Lilian Studer (Political Institutions Committee member) will accompany Mr Cassis on his trip to the Baltic States.
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