Federal Councillor Didier Burkhalter in Slovenia to explore avenues for future cooperation

Press releases, 15.11.2016

“Relations between Switzerland and Slovenia are excellent and very constructive. Our challenge is to maintain and develop them further in the future”, stated Federal Councillor Didier Burkhalter during one of several meetings in Ljubljana on 15 November 2016. The two countries’ commitment and developments in relations with the European Union will be key to achieving this goal. Mr Burkhalter met with Minister of Foreign Affairs Karl Erjavec, Prime Minister Miro Cerar and the Speaker of Slovenia’s National Assembly, Milan Brglez.

Switzerland and Slovenia enjoy good relations, which are based on a range of cooperation programmes whose future has to be reassessed.

Switzerland’s programme of cooperation with the new EU member states has facilitated the development of projects in Slovenia in various priority areas pertaining to the economy, research, social affairs, civil society and the environment. This programme has been completed in Slovenia, its goals having been achieved.

A real need for cooperation remains, however, particularly in the areas of vocational education and training and the economy. Mr Burkhalter explained to the Slovenian authorities that the potential launch of a new programme would also depend on how overall relations between Switzerland and the EU develop. Two questions in particular remain open: a solution to the issue of the free movement of persons, which is under debate by the Swiss Parliament, and Switzerland’s full association to the EU’s Horizon 2020 programme from 2017 on. Demonstrable progress on both fronts is in both countries’ interest.

During his meetings with the Slovenian authorities, Mr Burkhalter also discussed other major areas of cooperation.

Cooperation in the area of migration could also be extended. For example, in 2015 a team of experts from the Swiss Humanitarian Aid Unit helped Slovenia improve capacities at facilities for migrants. Cooperation in policing was also underscored, in particular with a view to countering the activities of criminal networks involved in migration flows.

Cooperation in the Alpine region could also be strengthened. For example, Switzerland and Slovenia are working together within the framework of the Alpine Convention and the EU Strategy for the Alpine Region, as well as on a research project on prehistoric pile dwellings in the Alpine region within the framework of the UNESCO World Heritage. Switzerland will lead the group coordinating the project in 2017 and 2018.

Mr Burkhalter also emphasised Switzerland’s willingness to step up multilateral cooperation and discussed, in particular, the prevention of violent extremism, human rights, cooperation within the UN, and the importance of International Geneva in addressing major issues of topical concern. Switzerland’s candidacy for the Security Council during the 2023-24 period was also discussed, and Minister of Foreign Affairs Erjavec announced that Slovenia would support Switzerland’s candidacy. The two foreign ministers also spoke about their countries’ commitment to the worldwide abolition of the death penalty which, they agreed, is no solution in the fight against violence.

During this meeting, Mr Burkhalter also addressed security issues. Slovenia, which gained independence 25 years ago, supports a panel on water and peace launched by Switzerland, which will publish a report in 2017 explaining how water can become a driver for international cooperation and trust building. The two states decided today to step up bilateral cooperation in this area. The two foreign ministers also exchanged views on questions relating to the European security order in light of the ongoing crisis in Ukraine and the upcoming transition to a new administration in the United States. They agreed that a well-structured dialogue in the OSCE could make an important contribution to building confidence and that the OSCE Ministerial Council meeting at the beginning of December in Hamburg should lay the groundwork for such a dialogue.

Further information:

Bilateral relations between Switzerland and Slovenia

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