Swiss President Calmy-Rey on official visit to Berlin

Bern, Press release, 24.01.2011

President of the Confederation Micheline Calmy-Rey travelled on Monday 24 January on a first official foreign visit to Berlin. She was received with military honours by President Christian Wulff and met for talks with Federal Chancellor Angela Merkel as well as with Foreign Minister Guido Westerwelle and Rainer Brüderle, Federal Minister for Economics and Technology.

President Micheline Calmy-Rey and Chancellor Angela Merkel praised the good relations and close partnership between Switzerland and Germany. One of the topics discussed was tax issues, particularly the negotiations initiated last week on a final withholding tax and better market access for financial services. "With the withholding tax model we have a constructive approach that respects the interests of both sides", said President Micheline Calmy-Rey: "Both sides now want to engage in speedy, thorough and solution-oriented negotiations."

Also discussed were Swiss-EU relations and possibilities to institutionally improve bilateral cooperation: "Greater efficiency in the development of bilateral agreements and strengthening legal certainty are also in Switzerland's interest", underscored the head of the Swiss Federal Department of Foreign Affairs. "But an impetus to the bilateral approach should not come at the expense of Swiss sovereignty; an automatic adoption of EU legislation is not up for discussion."

Other topics were European current political developments such as the Euro crisis. President Micheline Calmy-Rey stressed the importance of a stable euro for Switzerland's export-oriented economy and noted Switzerland's role in its stabilisation. The expansion of the Rhine Valley line to provide northern access to the New Transalpine Rail Axis (NEAT) and the question of Zurich airport were also discussed.

On Monday evening, President Calmy-Rey will participate in a panel discussion organised by the Deutsche Gesellschaft für Auswärtige Politik (German Society on Foreign Relations). She will discuss the issue of "Bern-Berlin-Brussels: Between national interests and European solidarity" with German Minister Rainer Brüderle and Volker Kauder, head of the CDU/ CSU parliamentary group in the German Bundestag.

On her visit to Berlin, President Calmy-Rey was accompanied by State Councillor Eugen David, President of the Foreign Affairs Committee, and by State Councillor Maximilian Reimann, President of the Swiss Federal Parliament's Delegation for Relations with the German Bundestag.

For further information please contact:
Adrian Sollberger, spokesperson, 0041 79 301 62 84.

Further information:

Bilateral relations between Switzerland and Germany

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Information FDFA
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CH-3003 Bern
Tel.: (+41) 031 322 31 53
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Federal Department of Foreign Affairs