Besides bilateral relations, talks will focus in particular on the Russian attack on Ukraine and its implications for the security architecture of Europe. Other topics on the agenda include the two countries’ European policy, the situation in the Western Balkans and climate and environmental issues.
The Swiss government, headed by President Ignazio Cassis, will receive President Čaputová with military honours on Thursday, 19 May, in Bern. Federal Councillor Karin Keller-Sutter, head of the Federal Department of Justice and Police (FDJP), will also take part in the official talks at the Bernerhof. The Slovak delegation will include Foreign Minister Ivan Korčok. The first day of the visit will close with a traditional gala dinner in Bern.
Second day in Zurich
Ms Čaputová and Mr Cassis will spend Friday, 20 May, in Zurich. A visit to the Federal Institute of Technology (ETH Zurich) will include a commemorative appreciation of Aurel Stodola (1859-1942), a scholar from the north of present-day Slovakia. As an ETH professor for mechanical engineering, Stodola made a significant contribution to the success of Swiss industrial companies such as Escher Wyss and Brown, Boveri & Company at the end of the nineteenth century by developing turbine construction.
During a visit to the Student Project House, an ETH think tank and workshop, young researchers will present various projects they are developing at present to counter the global climate and environmental crisis. The programme will also include an exchange of views with students from Slovakia. Following the ETH visit, the two presidents will open a Slovak-Swiss business meeting at the National Museum in Zurich.
Close civil society contacts
Switzerland and Slovakia enjoy excellent relations. When the Slovak Republic gained independence in 1993, the two countries immediately established diplomatic relations. There is a regular exchange between both countries at government, administrative and parliamentary level, and contacts have been strengthened in recent years through cooperation within the framework of Switzerland’s contribution to selected EU member states.
The volume of trade between the two countries has tripled since 2000 and there is still potential to develop economic relations. Contacts are particularly close at civil society level. After the Prague Spring in 1968, around 13,000 Czechoslovakians found refuge in Switzerland. At present, around 20,000 Slovaks live in Switzerland and 400 or so Swiss in Slovakia.
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