The last official visit by an Irish foreign minister to Switzerland took place in 2005, noted Mr Burkhalter, the Head of the Federal Department of Foreign Affairs (FDFA), as he received Mr Flanagan and his delegation at the Von-Wattenwyl-Haus in Bern. Mr Burkhalter also welcomed the fact that contacts between the two countries have become more frequent in recent years and that trade has continued to grow, reaching CHF 8 billion in 2014. Switzerland mainly exports pharmaceutical products to Ireland. The last official visit by the Head of the FDFA to Ireland took place at the beginning of 2013.
Next Mr Burkhalter and Mr Flanagan spoke about the European Union (EU), which Ireland joined in 1973. Mr Burkhalter explained to Mr Flanagan that the Federal Council intends to implement the result of the popular vote of 9 February 2014 and wants migration to be more tightly controlled while preserving the bilateral path with the EU, which Swiss voters have repeatedly approved in recent years.
One of the international issues discussed by Mr Burkhalter and Mr Flanagan was the Ukraine crisis. Mr Burkhalter underscored that Switzerland, which chaired the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE) in 2014, is continuing its efforts to facilitate a political solution, in particular through an impartial dialogue with all the parties.
Mr Burkhalter and Mr Flanagan also discussed the UN, in particular the working methods of the Security Council and the post-2015 agenda, which is a unique opportunity to make substantial progress in sustainable development and in the fight against poverty around the world.
Another topic of their discussions was peace and security policy, which is one of Switzerland's foreign policy priorities. Specifically, they exchanged views on nuclear disarmament, counter-terrorism and efforts to tackle the problem of foreign fighters. Last, Mr Burkhalter and Mr Flanagan talked about the Syrian crisis and its humanitarian consequences.
Address for enquiries:Information FDFA
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Federal Department of Foreign Affairs