Close Swiss-Austrian relations reaffirmed: President of the Swiss Confederation Cassis receives Austrian Chancellor Nehammer in Zofingen

Bern, 14.02.2022 - Today, Monday 14 February 2022, Austrian Federal Chancellor Karl Nehammer began his first official visit to Switzerland, where he was welcomed by President of the Swiss Confederation Ignazio Cassis. Switzerland's Justice Minister Karin Keller-Sutter also took part in the official talks and the joint lunch. The chancellor's visit marks the third high-level Swiss-Austrian meeting this year and demonstrates the neighbouring countries' desire to further strengthen their relations. The visit took place in Canton Aargau's town Zofingen – a symbol of the historical ties between the two states.

A short guided tour of Zofingen and a reception with military honours at Niklaus Thut Square in the town centre were followed by official talks in the town hall. The talks focused on how to deepen bilateral relations, and included the implementation of the strategic partnership between Switzerland and Austria. The aim of this partnership is to intensify cooperation, for example via political exchanges concerning the Western Balkans and the implementation of the 2030 Agenda, as well as mutual consular support in third countries. Other important matters discussed were the fight against the pandemic, relations between Switzerland and the EU, cooperation in the Western Balkans and the situation in Eastern Europe. The reform of the Schengen/Dublin systems and bilateral cooperation in migration and security were also discussed with Keller-Sutter.

From Austria, Vorarlberg State Governor Markus Wallner also took part in the talks. In the Lake Constance region, which includes the Austrian state of Vorarlberg, cross-border relations and cooperation between the two countries also have a very tangible effect on everyday life. For Cassis, also head of the Federal Department of Foreign Affairs (FDFA), cooperation across national borders is of the utmost political significance. Cross-border cooperation in the Lake Constance region, guided by the International Lake Constance Conference (IBK), plays a key role in this regard.

Welcoming the world to all four corners of Switzerland
The reception of the Austrian Federal Chancellor in Zofingen marks the starting point for the official visits of foreign guests planned this year in as many different corners of Switzerland as possible. These plans are a perfect example of the Swiss president's credo of presenting his country's diversity to the outside world while also making foreign policy a tangible reality for people throughout Switzerland. There is a deep-rooted history linking the town of Zofingen and the canton of Aargau with Austria, and with the Habsburgs in particular. The town itself belonged to Further Austria until 1415, when it became part of Bern. Since 1803 Zofingen has belonged to the canton of Aargau. Even today, the town's historical ties with Austria are visible, expressed in the red-and-white stripes of Zofingen's emblem.

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