Bundespräsident Didier Burkhalter auf Staatsbesuch in Polen

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President Didier Burkhalter travelled to Poland where he held bilateral talks with President Bronislaw Komorowksi, Prime Minister Donald Tusk and Foreign Minister Radoslaw Sikorski.

The main themes covered during the talks included:

  • Bilateral relations
  • European policy
  • Switzerland's chairmanship of the OSCE
  • International and multilateral themes

President Didier Burkhalter was received in Poland with military honours, and to mark his official visit he delivered a speech.

Speech (fr)

Didier Burkhalter held bilateral talks with the Polish president. Both presidents stressed the close and and varied forms of bilateral relations between the two countries, as well as their common tradition, stretching back centuries, of advocating democracy and independence.

Situation in Ukraine: Offer made by President Didier Burkhalter

The two partners also discussed the situation in Ukraine. President Burkhalter informed his counterpart of the offer he made to the Ukrainian prime minister, Mykola Azarov, in his capacity as chairman-in-office of the OSCE, to make available OSCE instruments to facilitate dialogue between the parties to the conflict. The offer still stands and he awaits a reply. Azarov has resigned from office in the meantime.

Joint declaration

The two presidents agreed on a joint declaration. The declaration envisages regular political discussions on a range of themes, as well as greater cooperation in the following areas:

  • Business
  • Energy
  • Transport
  • Environment
  • Finance
  • Tourism
  • Regional development

Joint declaration (fr) (PDF, Anzahl Seiten 4, 84.6 kB, Französisch)

Specific possibilities for enhancing cooperation in fields such as vocational education and training and knowledge transfer, for example, were discussed at the Polish-Swiss Economic Forum. The event was attended by representatives from the fields of politics, business, civil society and the academic world. President Didier Burkhalter delivered a speech at the Forum.

Press release

Visegrad Group

Among the subjects discussed was possible cooperation within the Visegrad Group. The group was set up by Poland, Hungary, the Czech Republic and Slovakia to address challenges faced by all its members.

One measure taken by the group has been to establish a fund to finance projects promoting democracy and stability in the states of the Eastern Partnership (Armenia, Azerbaijan, Georgia, Ukraine, Moldova, Belarus) or in the Balkans – goals also pursued by Switzerland in these regions.

Agreement on visa applications

President Burkhalter signed an agreement on Schengen cooperation with Foreign Minister Radoslaw Sikorski on the basis of which both states will be able to represent the partner state in handling visa applications.

OSCE Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights

In addition, President Burkhalter, in his capacity as chairman-in-office of the OSCE, went on to visit the OSCE Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights ODIHR. The Office is the OSCE's centre of expertise in the following areas:

  • Human rights
  • Democratic development
  • Rule of law
  • Tolerance
  • Non-discrimination
  • Election observation

Visit to the Rydygier hospital in Krakow

On the second day of his official visit President Burkhalter travelled to Krakow to find out about projects supported by Switzerland as part of its EU enlargement contribution. He visited the Rydygier hospital where Switzerland's contribution has served to improve energy efficiency.

In addition to environmental and infrastructure projects, Switzerland is also involved in other projects in the Krakow region in the following fields:

  • Promoting regional development
  • Improving social services
  • Preserving biodiversity

Article on Swiss activities in Poland

Visit to former concentration camp at Auschwitz

President Burkhalter then visited the Auschwitz I and Auschwitz-Birkenau concentration camps, as well as the museum. He was accompanied by a young Swiss woman whose grandfather survived the camp.

In 2013 Switzerland donated EUR 1 million to the Auschwitz-Birkenau Foundation for the preservation of the former concentration camp.

To mark the International Day of Commemoration in memory of the victims of the Holocaust on 27.1. 2014 President Burkhalter released a personal message.