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Switzerland and Poland agree on joint declaration to strengthen bilateral cooperation27.01.2014
During his official visit to Poland, President Didier Burkhalter agreed on a joint declaration with President Bronisław Komorowski in Warsaw today. The declaration envisages regular political discussions and greater cooperation in a range of areas including economic affairs, energy, transport, the environment and tourism. Following his discussion with Prime Minister Donald Tusk, President Burkhalter also signed an agreement on Schengen cooperation with Foreign Minister Radosław Sikorski. On the second day of his visit to Poland President Burkhalter will travel to Krakow to find out about projects supported by Switzerland as part of its EU enlargement contribution. This will be followed in the afternoon by a visit to the Auschwitz I and Auschwitz II-Birkenau concentration camps.
Following a reception with military honours, President Didier Burkhalter and President Bronisław Komorowski held bilateral talks. Both presidents stressed the close and varied forms of bilateral relations between the two countries, as well as their common tradition, stretching back centuries, of advocating democracy and independence.
The two partners also discussed the situation in Ukraine. President Burkhalter informed his counterpart of the offer he made to Prime Minister Azarov of Ukraine last Friday in his capacity as chairman-in-office of the OSCE to make available OSCE instruments to facilitate dialogue between the parties to the conflict. The offer still stands and he is awaiting a reply.
After the meeting between President Burkhalter and President Komorowski, which also covered European policy, multilateral cooperation and the priorities of Switzerland's OSCE chairmanship, the two presidents agreed on a joint declaration. The declaration envisages regular political exchanges on a variety of themes, as well as greater cooperation on the part of both states in the fields of economic affairs, energy, transport, the environment, finance, tourism and regional development.
Specific possibilities for enhancing cooperation in the area of vocational education and training and knowledge transfer, for example, will be discussed at the Polish-Swiss economic forum, which was opened today by the two presidents. The event is being attended by representatives from the fields of politics, business, civil society and the academic world.
Meeting with Prime Minister Tusk and Foreign Minister Sikorski
Following the morning discussion with President Komorowski, President Burkhalter also met Prime Minister Donald Tusk and Foreign Minister Radosław Sikorski. Among the subjects discussed was possible cooperation within the Visegrad Group. The Group was set up by Poland, Hungary, the Czech Republic and Slovakia to address challenges faced by all its members. One measure taken by the group has been to establish a fund to finance projects promoting democracy and stability in the states of the Eastern Partnership (Armenia, Azerbaijan, Georgia, Ukraine, Moldova, and Belarus) or in the Balkans – goals also pursued by Switzerland in these regions.
President Burkhalter signed an agreement on Schengen cooperation with Foreign Minister Radosław Sikorski, on the basis of which both states will be able to represent the partner state in handling visa applications. In addition, President Burkhalter, in his capacity as chairman-in-office of the OSCE, went on to visit the OSCE Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights ODIHR. The Office is the OSCE's centre of expertise for human rights, democratic development, rule of law, tolerance, non-discrimination and election observation.
Krakow: Projects supported by EU enlargement contribution and visit to Auschwitz
On Tuesday, President Burkhalter will be given an insight into projects in Krakow supported by Switzerland as part of its EU enlargement contribution, these include the Rydygier hospital where Switzerland's contribution has served to improve energy efficiency. In addition to environmental and infrastructure projects, Switzerland is also involved in projects in the Krakow region aimed at promoting regional development, improving social services and preserving biodiversity. Overall, Switzerland's enlargement contribution of CHF 489 million supports 58 projects in Poland.
On Tuesday afternoon President Burkhalter will pay a visit to the Auschwitz I and Auschwitz-Birkenau concentration camps accompanied by Piotr M. Cywinski, the Director of the Auschwitz-Birkenau Museum. President Burkhalter will be accompanied by a young Swiss woman whose grandfather survived the camp.
Last year Switzerland donated EUR 1 million to the Auschwitz-Birkenau Foundation for the preservation of the former concentration camp.
Federal Department of Foreign Affairs