The FDFA and the European External Action Service institutionalise their ministerial-level dialogue

Bern, 17.10.2013 - On 17 October 2013, Federal Councillor Didier Burkhalter received Catherine Ashton, High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy and Vice-President of the European Commission, on an official working visit to Switzerland. Mr Burkhalter and Lady Ashton agreed to institutionalise the ministerial-level dialogue between the European External Action Service (EEAS) and the FDFA.

Lady Ashton’s official working visit followed the Iran conference in Geneva which took place at the beginning of the week. Mr Burkhalter and Lady Ashton discussed the outcomes of the conference. Both Switzerland and the EU are in favour of a diplomatic solution to the nuclear dispute.

The meeting in Neuchâtel provided the opportunity for an exchange on current international and security policy issues, Switzerland's 2014 chairmanship of the OSCE, the major dossiers concerning bilateral relations between Switzerland and the EU, and cooperation at the multilateral level on development and human rights policy, as well as International Geneva.

Switzerland has long advocated a political solution to the Syrian crisis and therefore supports the Geneva Declaration of 30 June 2012, which is still the only proposal for a negotiated peaceful resolution of this conflict. Mr Burkhalter also spoke to Lady Ashton about the most recent developments with regard to the conference on Syria which is scheduled to take place in November in Geneva. The aim of the conference is to seek a long-term solution to enable political transition that responds to the legitimate aspirations of all sections of Syrian society.

The discussion also touched upon development in Egypt. Switzerland advocates the launch of a dialogue between all of Egypt's political and social groups.  This dialogue must take place on a democratic basis.

Furthermore, Mr Burkhalter informed Lady Ashton of Switzerland's priorities for its chairmanship of the Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) in 2014. These include promoting security and stability, improving people's living conditions and strengthening the OSCE's capacity to act. The overall theme of Switzerland's chairmanship is "Creating a Security Community for the Benefit of Everyone".

Mr Burkhalter and Lady Ashton also discussed the status of the dossier concerning institutional issues between Switzerland and the EU. The ongoing consultation on the draft mandate for negotiations was also mentioned, as was the medium-term strategy, which encompasses all of the current dossiers concerning Switzerland's European policy. In light of progress in all of these negotiations, the Federal Council will decide on a possible renewal of the enlargement contribution to the reduction of economic and social disparities within the EU.

For further details:

Jean-Marc Crevoisier
FDFA Information
079 / 763 84 10

Address for enquiries

FDFA Communication
Federal Palace West Wing
CH-3003 Bern, Switzerland
Tel.: +41 58 462 31 53
Twitter: @SwissMFA


Federal Department of Foreign Affairs