Federal Councillor Ignazio Cassis, head of the Federal Department of Foreign Affairs (FDFA), maintains a regular political dialogue with the cantonal governments of Ticino and Graubünden, as well as with parliamentarians of the canton Ticino and the Italian-speaking part of Graubünden in the Federal Assembly. Having met with the members of the governments of Ticino and Graubünden on 28 September 2020 in Bellinzona, Mr Cassis decided to meet with them in Bern together with the parliamentarians of the Italian-speaking part of Switzerland in the Federal Assembly.
They discussed topics of common interest such as the promotion of multilingualism in Switzerland and abroad, and various aspects of relations with Italy, in particular the issue of cross-border commuters.
He briefed them on the FDFA's recent efforts to ensure an equitable representation of Switzerland's language communities in the Federal Administration and in federal businesses and to promote the rights of minorities in Switzerland and abroad. He also underscored the fact that "the coexistence of different linguistic communities is central to Switzerland's identity and an essential component of its international image."
The FDFA and the governments of Ticino and Graubünden intend to follow up on the 'Piccolo Erasmus' initiative – an exchange programme for apprentices and young professionals from both cantons – proposed at the last meeting in Bellinzona. A pilot project will be launched this year involving the mutual secondment of staff from the cantonal administrations of Ticino and Graubünden on the one hand and the FDFA in Bern on the other. This cultural and linguistic exchange is intended to create added value for all administrations concerned.
Another topic of discussion was the management of the COVID-19 pandemic, in particular the Federal Council's plan to ease restrictions and facilitate the gradual resumption of international travel. Recent developments in European policy were also addressed: Mr Cassis emphasised the Federal Council's determination to continue working with the EU in the various areas covered by the bilateral agreements.
The president of Ticino's State Council, Manuele Bertoli, who is also the president of the Forum per l'italiano, underscored that "these meetings and the projects they lead to chime perfectly with the Forum's goals." For National Councillor Rocco Cattaneo, the president of the parliamentary group that represents Ticino in Bern, the meeting provided an opportunity to discuss how the various political representatives of Italian-speaking Switzerland can work together: "Uniting and aligning our efforts more and more will allow us to achieve tangible results for our region and our culture."
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