In his speech, Mr Cassis welcomed the fifth anniversary of the Dialogue Forum, which was set up in 2013 in Rome with the aim of strengthening mutual understanding and cooperation between Switzerland and Italy, and takes place each year alternately in one of the two countries.
The fifth edition is being held today and tomorrow at the Palazzo Ducale in Genoa in the presence of Ms Stefani, along with the Italian deputy minister for infrastructure and transport, Edoardo Rixi, the president of Liguria, Giovanni Toti, and the mayor of Genoa, Marco Bucci. It brings together a broad range of stakeholders from politics, business and the media, as well as representatives of the Swiss and Italian scientific and cultural communities.
Mr Cassis expressed his solidarity with Genoa, which was deeply affected by the tragedy of the Morandi bridge. He underscored the strategic importance of the city, which is open to the world and is the commercial gateway to the whole of Europe, in particular via the Gotthard Base Tunnel. "Swiss painter Paul Klee", said Cassis, "claimed to have only fully understood how vast the world was after seeing the port of Genoa."
The Dialogue Forum will consist of four working groups, whose results will be published at the end of the two days. The groups will discuss transport (the development of Ligurian ports and rail links via the Gotthard Base Tunnel), technology (the use of big data in health), tourism and Europe (the different models of integration across the European continent).
On the margins of the opening ceremony, Mr Cassis and Ms Stefani's discussions focused on matters Mr Cassis had previously raised with the Italian foreign minister, Enzo Moavero Milanesi, during his visit to Lugano in January. In particular, Mr Cassis reiterated that Switzerland is awaiting Italy's decision regarding the agreement on the taxation of frontier workers, which was initiated in 2015.
Switzerland and Italy are very close, with numerous human, cross-border, cultural, political and economic connections. Trade between the two countries exceeds CHF 30 billion per year. Italy is Switzerland's third largest trading partner, while Switzerland is Italy's sixth largest export market. Previous editions of the Dialogue Forum were held in Rome, Bern, Milan and Lugano.
Address for enquiries:
Federal Palace West Wing
CH-3003 Bern, Switzerland
Tel.: +41 58 462 31 53