Ignazio Cassis meets Icelandic foreign minister in Zurich

Press releases, 22.05.2023

On Monday afternoon, 22 May 2023, the head of the FDFA, Ignazio Cassis, received his Icelandic counterpart, Þórdís Kolbrún R. Gylfadóttir, for an official working visit in Zurich. They discussed bilateral relations, the two countries' work in the Council of Europe, and the future path of Europe.

Bilateral contacts take place for the most part within the framework of EFTA, the OSCE and the Council of Europe. The working meeting with the Icelandic foreign minister took place at the University of Zurich. The choice of venue is symbolic of the closeness of the two countries as European nations and of their commitment to the Council of Europe. It was at the University of Zurich that Winston Churchill delivered a speech to students on 19 September 1946 – a speech which is today considered seminal in the reconstruction and unification of Europe after the Second World War and as the impetus for the creation of the Council of Europe.

Both Iceland, which chairs the Council of Europe until mid-May, and Switzerland, which this year celebrates 60 years of membership of the council, embody fundamental European values and are committed to the important work of the Council of Europe: "Especially in the current challenging times when war is raging at the heart of Europe, we are focusing on what unites us as Europeans and are standing up for a secure, peaceful and stable future," said Cassis at the meeting. He went on to say that multilateral bodies and institutions such as the Council of Europe have a crucial role to play. The current security situation and the impact of the war in Ukraine on Europe and the rest of the world were a key focus of the discussions. Mr Cassis emphasised that Swiss neutrality did not contradict his country's solidarity with the rest of Europe

Cooperation on climate issues

In addition to the challenges facing Europe as a whole and the goals of the Council of Europe, the talks focused in particular on cooperation between Switzerland and Iceland within the framework of EFTA and cooperation on climate issues. Both countries see potential for increased cooperation in the field of carbon capture and storage. Switzerland is committed to achieving the net-zero target by 2050 and the sustainable development of these technologies and corresponding framework conditions that this requires. The two foreign ministers also discussed their countries' candidacies for the Human Rights Council. Both are running for a seat for the 2025–27 term, and hold very similar positions.

The meeting concluded with a guided tour of the historic auditorium of the University of Zurich, where Churchill delivered his historic speech on the future of Europe.

Further information:

The UN and human rights
CO2 capture, removal and storage
Council of Europe
Bilateral relations Switzerland–Iceland

Address for enquiries:

FDFA Communication
Federal Palace West Wing
CH-3003 Bern, Switzerland
Tel. Communication service: +41 58 462 31 53
Tel. Press service: +41 58 460 55 55
E-mail: kommunikation@eda.admin.ch
Twitter: @SwissMFA


Federal Department of Foreign Affairs