The visit by Ivo Josipović is the first official visit by a Croatian president to Switzerland. President Josipović was welcomed by President Didier Burkhalter, the head of the Federal Department of Foreign Affairs, at the Lohn country residence in Kehrsatz with full military honours. The subsequent talks, also attended by the Vice President of the Federal Council, Simonetta Sommaruga, the head of the Federal Department of Justice and Police, provided an opportunity to strengthen already excellent bilateral relations. Around 31,000 Croatian citizens live in Switzerland. At the same time, some 200,000 Swiss tourists visit Croatia every year. President Burkhalter used the meeting to again express his deepest sympathy for the victims of the catastrophic flooding in Croatia, Serbia and Bosnia Herzegovina in May, which was met with widespread concern in Switzerland.
An important element of the talks was Switzerland's European policy. President Burkhalter mentioned the current discussions in the Federal Council on future developments in bilateral relations between Switzerland and the EU. He advised his Croatian counterpart in particular of the Federal Council decision of 30 April 2014 to introduce separate quotas for Croatian citizens in relation to the admission of third country nationals to the Swiss labour market. The Federal Council will grant Croatia the same quotas that would have applied from the date of signing of the Third Protocol to the Agreement on the Free Movement of Persons until its entry into force. This measure will come into effect on 1 July and will apply until a comprehensive solution to free movement between Switzerland and the EU is found.
On 30 April, the Federal Council also confirmed that Switzerland will make an enlargement contribution of CHF 45 million to Croatia aimed at reducing economic and social disparities in the expanded European Union. Parliament has yet to approve this contribution. The Federal Council submitted the related dispatch to parliament on 28 May.
In addition, President Burkhalter and President Josipović exchanged views on Switzerland and Croatia's commitments in the countries of the Western Balkans, and on Europe's international role and responsibilities, especially in relation to the current crisis in Ukraine. Also discussed was the role of the Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE), an organisation that Switzerland is chairing this year.
For further information, contact:
Event page: Visit by Croatian President
Bilateral relations between Switzerland and Croatia
Swiss OSCE chairmanship
Swiss commitment to the Western Balkans
Directorate for European Affairs DEA: Swiss EU policy
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