Ignazio Cassis inaugurates first Swiss embassy to Holy See and meets with Italian and Vatican authorities

Press releases, 21.04.2023

During a three-day visit to Rome, Federal Councillor Ignazio Cassis, the head of the FDFA, officially inaugurated Switzerland's new diplomatic mission to the Vatican. He said that this new presence will strengthen bilateral relations with the Holy See, during his meeting with the secretary of state, Cardinal Pietro Parolin. As part of this official working visit, Mr Cassis also held discussions with his Italian counterpart Antonio Tajani and the Italian minister of economy and finance, Giancarlo Giorgetti.

Federal Councillor Ignazio Cassis and Cardinal Pietro Parolin during the inauguration of the Swiss Embassy to the Holy See.

This is Mr Cassis's first official visit to Rome since the new Italian government was formed. He spoke with the Italian foreign minister, Antonio Tajani, whom he had already met briefly in February on the sidelines of the UN General Assembly in New York. The two counterparts mainly discussed the good bilateral relations between Switzerland and Italy and other topical international issues, such as the consequences of the war in Ukraine and Switzerland's term as a non-permanent member of the UN Security Council. «It's essential that we build on the positive impetus our two nations have established over recent years, in order to continue on the path of pragmatic cooperation and to find lasting solutions together, » said Cassis. Migration issues, in particular the state of emergency recently announced by Italy, were discussed in depth during the meeting. Mr Cassis also referred to the recent in-depth exploratory talks between Switzerland and the EU and reiterated the Federal Council's goal of stabilising and developing the bilateral approach with the EU.

Removal of Switzerland from the 1999 blacklist

In his talks with the minister of economy and finance, Giancarlo Giorgetti, Mr Cassis welcomed the political declaration signed the previous day between the two countries, which aims to settle outstanding tax issues and marks the removal of Switzerland from the blacklist that Italy had established in 1999 concerning the taxation of natural persons. This positive outcome is the result of close collaboration between the Swiss Federal Department of Finance and the FDFA on this matter. «This is a new stage in our relations, in keeping with the positive impetus of recent years – an important step forward which brings my visit to Rome to a most positive end, » said a delighted Cassis. The issue had been previously discussed during President Mattarella's state visit to Switzerland in November 2022. During their talks, the two ministers also discussed ratification of the agreement on taxation of cross-border workers.

Positive development of relations with the Holy See

On Wednesday, 19 April, Mr Cassis officially opened the new premises of the Swiss embassy to the Holy See. The new representation was specifically desired by the Federal Council, «to allow Switzerland's strong, historical relations with the Vatican to be further strengthened, » said Cassis during the ceremony. Bilateral relations between the two countries were the focus of discussions with the secretary of state of the Holy See, Cardinal Pietro Parolin, and the secretary for relations with states, Archbishop Paul Richard Gallagher. During the talks, international issues such as the war in Ukraine were also touched on, and support was reiterated for the joint declaration – signed in November 2021 in Bern – which aims to strengthen joint bilateral and multilateral efforts to promote peace and human rights in the world.

Another topic of common interest was the new barracks of the Pontifical Swiss Guard in the Vatican. The two sides noted with satisfaction the progress made in the preparation of this ambitious project, which will be partly funded by the Swiss government. On the sidelines of his visit to the Vatican, Mr Cassis also met with the Community of Sant'Egidio, an international Christian organisation particularly active in support for the most vulnerable and conflict mediation.

Further information:

Bilateral relations Switzerland–Holy See (Vatican City)
Bilateral relations Switzerland–Italy
Address by Federal Councillor Ignazio Cassis

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