Switzerland reaffirms solidarity with Ukraine
Bern, 15.01.2024 - During the official visit of Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy to Bern on Monday 15 January, Switzerland and Ukraine acknowledged the depth and dynamism of their bilateral relations. The Swiss government delegation, led by President Viola Amherd, underscored Switzerland's continued solidarity with Ukraine. Another key item on the agenda was the follow-up to the meeting of national security advisers hosted in Davos on Sunday within the framework of the Ukrainian peace formula. Switzerland expressed its willingness to organise a high-level summit.
The Swiss government was also represented at the talks in Bern by Federal Councillor Ignazio Cassis, head of the Federal Department of Foreign Affairs (FDFA), and Federal Councillor Beat Jans, head of the Federal Department of Justice and Police (FDJP). President Zelenskyy was accompanied by Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba and the head of the Office of the President, Andriy Yermak. Both delegations acknowledged the close cooperation between the two countries and the intensity of bilateral contacts, with visits by the Swiss president in both 2022 and 2023.
Switzerland's support for Ukraine's reform initiatives has been part of its international cooperation programme since the 1990s. Since the onset of the Russian war of aggression in February 2022, Switzerland has also been committed to overcoming the plight of the population and supporting reconstruction, a process of strategic importance to the Federal Council. The Lugano Principles adopted by the Ukraine Recovery Conference (URC 2022) serve as a political compass for reconstruction. Around CHF 1.5 billion has been earmarked up to 2028 for international cooperation in Ukraine, including reconstruction. The Federal Council delegation noted that Switzerland was also keen to coordinate with other donor countries, in view of the urgent needs and the commitment of the international community.
Support for the peace process
Another key topic of discussion was the follow-up to the meeting of national security advisers on the Ukrainian peace formula, attended by more than 80 countries in Davos on Sunday. Both delegations commended their close cooperation in organising the event. This was the fourth in a series of such meetings as a platform for discussing a comprehensive, just and lasting peace in Ukraine.
Switzerland supports the peace formula and all initiatives aimed at achieving a lasting peace in Ukraine. On Monday the two delegations discussed the next steps towards this goal. At the request of the Ukrainian president, Switzerland has agreed to host a summit on the peace formula. Further details are now being worked out.
Switzerland also participates in the Register of Damage launched by the Council of Europe and is one of a core group of states that support the creation of a special tribunal to address the lack of accountability for the crime of aggression by Russia.
Commitment to humanitarian demining
Switzerland has donated around CHF 400 million in international cooperation to Ukraine and its neighbouring countries since 24 February 2022. Last September, the Federal Council approved a CHF 100 million package for humanitarian demining in the context of Switzerland's support for Ukraine. This includes a project by Geneva-based organisation FSD (Fondation suisse de déminage) in the Kharkiv and Kherson regions in 2024. A high-level conference on the challenges of humanitarian demining in Ukraine will be held in Geneva next October.
Other topics discussed on Monday included multilateralism, global food security and migration issues. Since the outbreak of the war of aggression on 24 February 2022, Switzerland has granted ‘S’ protection status to more than 90,000 people. There are currently around 66,000 refugees from Ukraine with ‘S’ protection status living in Switzerland. The federal government is expected to spend CHF 1.2 billion on the protection of refugees from Ukraine in 2024.
Support for public transport
Two public transport projects are among Switzerland's current projects in Ukraine. The City of Bern is donating 11 trams to Lviv, which will be used there for another 10 to 12 years. In particular, the low-floor vehicles will enable barrier-free access for patients and war casualties travelling on a new tram line serving a hospital. In addition to transporting the vehicles, Switzerland is funding technical training in tram operation and maintenance as well as support in planning upgrades to the entire tram network. A similar tram project exists with the City of Zurich, which has already donated 28 trams to the Ukrainian city of Vinnytsia since 2021 and plans to deliver another eight in 2024.
In addition, Swiss support in 2023 helped repair some 270 kilometres of rail track in Ukraine. Thanks to Swiss rail reinforcements, Ukrainian Railways has strengthened its lines to Poland and Odesa, making it possible to transport larger quantities of Ukrainian grain and import more aid supplies from Europe. As part of its international cooperation programme, Switzerland will make a further CHF 10 million available to Ukraine in 2024 to enable Ukrainian Railways to purchase additional rail fastening systems.
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