During the meeting, the two ministers emphasised the strong relations that unite their countries in a variety of fields. As part of the implementation of Switzerland's first contribution to the enlarged EU, the two countries collaborated on projects relating to vocational education and training, innovation promotion, and environmental protection. The second Swiss contribution, which was recently approved by the Federal Assembly, will provide Croatia with CHF 45.7 million in funding over ten years.
A further example of the robust relations between Switzerland and Croatia is the assistance provided by Swiss Humanitarian Aid following the earthquake that struck Zagreb at the end of 2020. In response to a request by the Croatian authorities, the FDFA provided emergency shelters for the victims of the quake.
Tourism also helps to strengthen ties between the two countries: before the pandemic, nearly 270,000 Swiss nationals holidayed in Croatia every year. Discussions also covered the Federal Council's decision to grant full free movement of persons to Croatian nationals from 1 January 2022. In that context, the two foreign ministers emphasised that the 28,000 Croatians living in Switzerland provided a bridge between their respective societies. The two countries also pursue common interests and cooperate in the field of migration.
Switzerland's European policy and the situation in the Balkans
Mr Cassis also discussed Switzerland's European policy with his Croatian counterpart, emphasising in particular the Federal Council's desire to pursue a structured political dialogue with the European Union. He also said that he expected the Confederation to be able to participate again in the Horizon Europe and Erasmus+ programmes following the approval of the second Swiss contribution.
With regard to current international events, the two ministers also discussed the situation in the Western Balkans. The head of the FDFA reiterated Switzerland's strong commitment to the region: since 1991, Switzerland has invested around CHF 3 billion to promote stability, security and democracy in the countries of the Western Balkans.
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