Federal Councillor Calmy-Rey in Moscow for talks

Bern, Press release, 17.01.2010

Swiss Federal Councillor Micheline Calmy-Rey, Head of the Federal Department of Foreign Affairs (FDFA), met with Russia’s Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov in Moscow for talks on Sunday. The two Ministers discussed bilateral and international topics including Switzerland’s representation of Georgian and Russian interests in the framework of its protection mandates and questions relating to Switzerland’s Chairmanship of the Council of Europe.

The Swiss and Russian Foreign Ministers expressed satisfaction at the intensity of relations between their two countries which is reflected in the large number of meetings and negotiation rounds that took place last year. Both sides agreed that this momentum should be preserved. This cooperation has produced results including the signing of a number of treaties, which have either been signed in recent months or are nearing conclusion, in areas such as migration, double taxation and scientific research. On the Swiss side the procedure for the enforcement of the visa facilitation and readmission agreements is completed. Micheline Calmy-Rey expressed the hope that these mutually advantageous agreements enter into force as soon as possible. 

The talks also focused on Switzerland’s mandate to represent the interests of Russia in Georgia, and vice versa. Switzerland’s embassies in Moscow and Tbilisi have been looking after the respective rights of the citizens of the two countries under international law for about a year. The two Ministers agreed that cooperation between the relevant authorities has been efficient and effective. It has enabled a number of persons in difficulties to avail themselves of consular assistance. 

In so far as Switzerland’s period as Chair of the Council of Europe is concerned, Mrs. Calmy-Rey noted that the protection of human rights and the rule of law will have priority. The greatest challenge beeing to help the European Court of Human Rights, which suffers from a chronic condition of overwork, to function more efficiently in future. 

In this context the Swiss Minister of Foreign Affairs also expressed satisfaction with the progress which Russia has made in ratifying Protocol 14 of the European Convention for the Protection of Human Rights. The Protocol aims at more efficient procedures in an effort to reduce the number of cases pending before the Court. Switzerland is organising a conference, to take place in Interlaken 18-19 February, to discuss possible solutions to the Court’s excessive workload. 

The visit to Moscow brings Mrs. Calmy-Rey’s three-day tour of Eastern Europe to a close. It began on Friday with a visit to Ljubljana for talks with the Slovenian Foreign Minister Samuel Zbogar. On the following Saturday and Sunday the Head of Switzerland’s Federal Department of Foreign Affairs had talks in the Georgian capital Tbilisi in her capacity as Chair of the Committee of Ministers of the Council of Europe. 

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