President of the Republic of Moldova pays official visit to Switzerland

Bern, 18.10.2023 - On Wednesday, 18 October, a Federal Council delegation led by President Alain Berset received Moldovan President Maia Sandu on an official visit to Switzerland. Talks focused on the impact on Moldova of Russia's military aggression against Ukraine as well as bilateral cooperation. The programme for Thursday, 19 October, includes a visit to a pharmaceutical company in Basel and a panel event at ETH Zurich.

The official talks took place at the Lohn estate on Wednesday attended by President Berset and three further members of the Federal Council; Guy Parmelin, head of the Federal Department of Economic Affairs, Education and Research (EAER), Ignazio Cassis, head of the Federal Department of Foreign Affairs (FDFA), and Elisabeth Baume-Schneider, head of the Federal Department of Justice and Police (FDJP). The Moldovan delegation also included Minister of Labour and Social Affairs Alexei Buzu.

President Sandu outlined the impact of the war in Ukraine on her own country. The Swiss delegation reiterated its solidarity with Moldova, as expressed at the ministerial conference of the Moldova Support Platform in Chișinău on Tuesday, 17 October. In response to the consequences of the war for Moldova, Switzerland has stepped up its bilateral cooperation activities in 2022 and 2023 and complemented the existing development cooperation programme with a humanitarian programme. One of the ways in which Switzerland is supporting Moldova is by taking in Ukrainian refugees.

From Switzerland's point of view, addressing the consequences of war involves a commitment to reconstruction in Ukraine and preventing impunity with regard to war crimes; the Council of Europe's Register of Damage is a valuable contribution in that regard. Another topic of discussion was cooperation between Switzerland and Moldova at the international level, for example within the framework of the European Political Community (EPC) and the Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE).

Three memorandums of understanding
Bilateral relations between Switzerland and Moldova were commended by both sides. The Federal Council delegation stressed that Switzerland would remain a reliable partner for the Republic of Moldova in its transformation towards democratic and inclusive governance and a functioning market economy.

With regard to economic relations, both sides expressed the hope that these would be further strengthened by the free trade agreement between Moldova and the member states of the European Free Trade Association (EFTA) signed in June 2023. Three documents were signed on Wednesday: a memorandum of understanding institutionalising a dialogue on labour and employment matters, a declaration on cooperation in the tourism sector, and a declaration of intent to swiftly advance and conclude the ongoing negotiations on a social security agreement.

Programme for day 2 of the visit
The official visit will continue in Basel, where President Sandu and President Berset will visit the production facility of a pharmaceutical company. They will then travel on to Zurich where President Sandu will give a talk at ETH Zurich on the geopolitical situation in Eastern Europe followed by a discussion with students.

Switzerland and Moldova established diplomatic relations in 1992 after the republic gained independence. Contacts are good and have been deepened in recent years. President Sandu's official visit is the third by a Moldovan head of state, with the last dating back to 1999. More recently, the number of high-level bilateral contacts has increased significantly.

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