President of the Swiss Confederation Ignazio Cassis met President Egils Levits of Latvia for official talks at the Piazza Riforma in Lugano. During the meeting, they discussed their countries' good relationship and intention to develop these bilateral ties further, a subject already touched upon when the head of the Federal Department of Foreign Affairs (FDFA) visited Riga in July last year for the centenary of Switzerland's recognition of Latvia's independence.
The war in Ukraine was also a central topic of the meeting. The two counterparts underlined their call for an immediate withdrawal of Russian troops and an independent international investigation to clarify the possible war crimes. Mr Cassis explained how Switzerland is contributing to the management of the crisis by providing humanitarian aid on the ground, receiving Ukrainian refugees without unnecessary bureaucracy and applying the sanctions against Russia and Belarus. The situation in these countries, which both share borders with Latvia, was also discussed. Switzerland condemns Belarus's involvement in the Russian aggression against Ukraine. "Switzerland has repeatedly called on Belarus not to participate in the conflict, and to use its proximity to Russia to seek a de-escalation," said Cassis.
The two presidents also discussed Switzerland's policy on Europe. Cassis emphasised Switzerland's desire to stabilise and expand its bilateral approach with the EU, and explained the negotiating package proposed by the Federal Council, in which institutional elements would be anchored in the individual market access agreements. Highlighting the common values that unite the two parties, he assured Latvia of Switzerland's commitment to stability, security and prosperity in Europe. Latvia will be one of the beneficiaries of the second Swiss contribution to selected EU member states, which is part of this commitment.
A homage to Latvia in Ticino
After the official meeting, Mr Cassis and Mr Levits visited the museum commemorating the poets Rainis and Aspazija. From 1906, the two Latvian intellectuals lived in exile in Castagnola near Lugano before returning to their homeland in 1920. The decision to receive Mr Levits in Ticino reflects Mr Cassis's intention to invite foreign guests to various regions of Switzerland during his presidential year. He aims to showcase our country's plurality and cultural richness, and bring Swiss citizens closer to their country's foreign affairs.
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