ISRIA: Russian-Swiss talks were held as part of Dmitry Medvedev's state visit to Switzerland
The talks concluded with the signing of several bilateral agreements: an intergovernmental agreement simplifying visa formalities between the two countries, a memorandum on cooperation in physical culture and sport, an intergovernmental agreement on readmission, and an agreement on cooperation in disaster and emergency relief and international development assistance.
Mr Medvedev met with members of the Russian and Swiss business communities.
Earlier in the day, Mr Medvedev was welcomed by President of the Swiss Confederation Hans-Rudolf Merz at a ceremony at the government Lohn residence in Kehrsatz.
Speech at Official Meeting with President of the Swiss Confederation Hans-Rudolf Merz
September 21, 2009
PRESIDENT OF RUSSIA DMITRY MEDVEDEV: Mr Federal President, Ms Merz, ladies and gentlemen, members of the Federal Council, Your Excellency,
I would like to thank the Federal Council of Switzerland for this invitation to visit your wonderful country and for the warm welcome I have received.
This is the first visit by a Russian leader to Switzerland in the history of our bilateral relations, and for us, this is a significant, special event. The goal of this visit is to strengthen relations between our two nations and to greatly advance our cooperation in all areas. We are happy to see that our partners feel likewise, which will undoubtedly be conducive to success on both sides.
We also count on reinforcing this common success by signing joint documents.
Russia has a long history of respect for the Swiss nation. As far back as the end of the 18th century, the Russian historian Nikolai Karamzin described Switzerland as a land of freedom and prosperity. Here in this land, many of my great countrymen first came up with some of their finest work; at the same time, there have been some very well-known, shining examples of Swiss participation in Russia’s development.
Today, we will be marking the 210th anniversary since Alexander Suvorov’s army heroically crossed over the Alps, and we will continue our observance tomorrow with special events. Switzerland carefully preserves the memory of Suvorov’s deeds, which serves as more evidence for the historic basis of our relations. I am happy that tomorrow, I will pay tribute to my ancestors at the site where these events took place. This kind of respectful attitude toward historic events serves as an important condition for successful joint cooperation and partnership and shows the maturity of our civil societies and the politicians in power. Unfortunately, we sometimes witness examples to the contrary, when attempts are made to turn history into an instrument for political pressure.
Switzerland stands as an example of the benefits to Europe’s development that result from having different forms of government. It also demonstrates how people of different ethnicities, cultures, and religions, speaking different languages, can coexist in harmony. Of course, for centuries, Switzerland has stood apart for its tradition of neutrality – and in the 19th century, Russia was a key proponent of Switzerland’s neutrality and independence at the Vienna Congress. Even today, neutrality gives Switzerland national sovereignty and credibility as an active participant in multilateral diplomacy and a mediator in settling international conflicts, including in issues that Mr President just spoke about.
Switzerland, a nation free from the problems tied to alignment and other prejudices, holds a dignified position in today’s modern, multipolar world, doing everything it can to strengthen it. It is no accident that Switzerland is home to the headquarters of most influential international organisations – all those who work constructively with our governments to promote security, stability, trust, and cooperation, in Europe and throughout the world.
We appreciate our Swiss colleagues’ positive attitudes toward the idea suggested by Russia of developing a legally binding agreement on European security. It would be based on a non-aligned approach to providing security in the Euro-Atlantic region. We count on your active participation in the ongoing discussion on the architecture of this security.
Security, in the widest sense of the word, will also be a central topic during our talks in Bern. This is not only a matter of disarmament, weapons control, or preventing and settling international conflicts, but also a matter of financial and economic security. It is particularly relevant on the eve of the G20 summit in Pittsburgh.
I find it telling that two of the major contemporary economic forums currently take place in Davos, Switzerland, and St Petersburg, Russia. Of course, the Swiss forum is much better-known, but we are also striving to develop our own forum. In general, these forums have turned into a platform for discussing ways to intensify the global economy, particularly in the conditions of a global crisis. We are also interested in addressing problems of energy supply, approaching the matter both from the angle of its consumers and suppliers.
To conclude my greetings and introductory remarks, which are directed toward everyone present, I would like to say that Russia supports dialogue among participants in international relations – dialogue that is as fair, open, and wide as possible.
I hope that we can discuss many of the issues mentioned with our Swiss colleagues using the same language, especially since Mr President has just demonstrated his excellent proficiency in our language, and is happy to use it beautifully at any opportunity. I hope that this will help us to hold productive, substantial talks and will be conducive to expanding our bilateral dialogue and cooperation.
I would like to thank you again for your very warm welcome.
Beginning of Russian-Swiss Talks
September 21, 2009
PRESIDENT OF THE SWISS CONFEDERATION HANS-RUDOLF MERZ (as translated into Russian): Mr President, ladies and gentlemen, ministers, members of the Swiss Federal Council,
I am very happy, Mr President, to welcome you and your delegation here to the Bernerhof Federal Palace, one of the facilities of the Swiss government. I am particularly happy that relations between our nations have developed so much in recent years.
This is the first time that a Russian President is visiting Switzerland. I am glad that our meeting is taking place on the eve of the UN General Assembly; naturally, it has a particular significance. This is a state visit, which gives us the opportunity to discuss some especially important current issues and share our views.
We have agreed that for the first part of the day, we will discuss our bilateral goals and agreements. The second part of the day will be devoted to issues of international security that European politicians are facing; we will also talk about the development of the UN and its structures.
PRESIDENT OF RUSSIA DMITRY MEDVEDEV: Ladies and gentlemen,
I will try to be brief in my introductory remarks, because we already exchanged greetings during the meeting ceremony.
Nonetheless, I would like to say that, indeed, we also have very high expectations for this occasion – the very first visit by a Russian leader to Switzerland in the history of our nations. And naturally, this gives us a great deal of responsibility. I am very happy to be here with you.
I feel that the level of economic and humanitarian relations existing between our nations today is quite satisfactory. We have a variety of topics for discussion – both bilateral and regional issues, as well as matters of global importance. I think that we can certainly proceed as Mr President has suggested, following the plan that he proposed.
Currently, I believe that our relations overall are at a very high level of development. Our task now should be to strive to maintain them at this level, and even improve them. We should also work to bolster our relations through new bilateral economic projects, as well as bright, interesting humanitarian ties.
Furthermore, our visit coincides with a historic event of significance to both of our nations: Alexander Suvorov’s crossing over the Alps. It seems to me that this is a beautiful part of today’s dialogue, which not only demonstrates the extent of our relations, but also shows the history of our ties. And so, I suggest that we begin our talks.