The relations of Slovakia and the EU with Switzerland were discussed by Minister of Foreign and European Affairs of the Slovak Republic, Miroslav Lajčák, and his Swiss departmental counterpart, Didier Burkhalter, in the town Kehrsatz near Bern today. Their meeting took place on the sidelines of a visit to Switzerland by Andrej Kiska, the President of Slovakia.
Ministers Lajčák and Burkhalter confirmed the high quality of bilateral relations that is also attested, inter alia, by the intensity and regularity of the top level contacts. Minister Lajčák emphasized Slovakia’s interest in deepening mutual cooperation beyond the political level and the existing economic activities into the areas of innovation, research and education.
The ministers also delved into the opportunities for strengthening dialogue under the Visegrad Four +Switzerland format and discussed the preparations for a ministerial meeting that might take place next year.
The core issue of Minister Lajčák’s discussion with his Swiss counterpart was the topic of EU-Switzerland relations. Slovakia, as the country now holding the Presidency of the Council of the EU, raised the issue of the discussions by EU Member States about the future arrangement of the joint relationship with regard to the results of the 2014 Swiss referendum to limit immigration.
Minister Lajčák reminded that the Slovak Presidency is taking the maximum positive approach to the issue of free movement of persons and other pending issues in the joint relationship and is seeking to find mutually acceptable solutions. He also noted that quick ratification of Croatia’s Accession Protocol to the EU-Switzerland Agreement on the free movement of persons would send a positive signal to the EU.
Minister Lajčák informed Minister Burkhalter about the most recent EU actions in fulfilling the conclusions from the Bratislava Summit and also about the developments in preparations for Britain’s departure from the EU.
Minister Lajčák, within the program of President Kiska, also attended the meeting with compatriots and presented the Golden Plaque of the Minister of Foreign and European Affairs of the Slovak Republic to Guido Stöckli, an official from the Order of Malta in Switzerland. The order has been intensively cooperating with the Slovak Embassy in Bern for several years in making arrangements for Swiss assistance provided in the form of equipment donations for Slovak hospitals, for facilities of social services and for schools. Thanks to the engagement of Mr. Stöckli several dozen truckloads of various kinds of hospital and medical equipment come to Slovakia every year.