Discussions during the official meetings focused on Malta’s priorities during its presidency of the Council of the EU and the state of talks between Switzerland and the European Union (EU) on matters including immigration. Mr Schneider-Ammann stressed that the Federal Council was striving for a mutually acceptable solution with the EU on the implementation of Article 121a of the Constitution. Malta clearly expressed its willingness to help find a solution which takes account of both EU and Swiss interests.
During the discussions, President Schneider-Ammann underlined the importance of the Horizon 2020 framework research programme. The question of whether or not Switzerland will once again be able to participate in the programme as a fully associated state is likely to be clarified during the Maltese EU presidency. The matter is extremely important for Switzerland and also of considerable relevance to its European partners such as Malta, President Schneider-Ammann stressed. For its part, Malta acknowledged the value of Switzerland’s continuing support for the Mediterranean Academy of Diplomatic Studies (MEDAC).
In addition to meeting the Maltese president and prime minister, Mr Schneider-Ammann met economy minister Christian Cordona and education minister Evarist Bartolo in Valetta. On the Swiss side, the official talks were also attended by State Secretary Jacques de Watteville, chief negotiator for relations with the EU, and State Secretary Mauro Dell'Ambrogio, head of the State Secretariat for Education, Research and Innovation (SERI).
Fresh dynamism in bilateral relations
Apart from European policy issues, talks also covered the situation in Libya and Syria, as well as migration policy, which will be a priority in Malta’s presidency of the EU. The delegations of both countries underlined the importance of a supportive and coordinated Europe-wide policy. In terms of bilateral relations, the two sides emphasised that the recently achieved dynamism in relations between the two countries should be maintained. In particular, Malta has shown considerable interest in Switzerland’s system of vocational education and training. Switzerland has invited Maltese experts in the field to come and find out more about the specifics of the Swiss model.
The programme also included the laying of a wreath at the war memorial in Floriana commemorating the victims of both world wars. President Schneider-Ammann also took part in a ceremony in the gardens of the presidential palace at which a friendship tree was planted as is traditional during state visits to Malta.
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