International cooperation, the economy and Europe the focal points of President Alain Berset’s discussions in Davos

Press release, 26.01.2018

President Alain Berset held lengthy talks with around a dozen heads of state and government on the fringes of this year’s WEF Annual Meeting. The main topics addressed during the discussions included international cooperation, economic and trade contacts, and Switzerland’s relations with the European Union and the UK.

U.S. President Donald Trump and Swiss President Alain Berset
U.S. President Donald Trump and Swiss President Alain Berset © Keystone

“International cooperation and exchanges with other countries are key to our prosperity. Personal contacts at the highest level are therefore extremely important. During my many discussions I was able to set out our position and inject fresh impetus in a number of areas”, said President Berset taking stock on Friday of accomplishments during the WEF Annual Meeting in Davos.

At the meeting with US President Donald Trump, which was also attended by federal councillors Johann N. Schneider-Ammann and Ignazio Cassis, talks focused on economic and financial relations, education and global challenges.

Both delegations commended the quality of bilateral exchanges, in particular the close and extensive economic relations that exist. They provide a firm foundation for the further development of bilateral cooperation.

With regard to the banking dispute, the Swiss delegation explained that it would be beneficial for bilateral business activities if the proceedings against Swiss ‘Group 1 banks’ were to be concluded swiftly. This would provide greater legal certainty and open up fresh economic opportunities. The separation of powers is to be respected.

President Berset also stressed the importance of the international legal system and the multilateral order. They are vital to Switzerland’s security and prosperity, but ultimately in everyone’s interests.

The meeting with Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi was attended by President Berset and Federal Councillor Schneider-Ammann and addressed a number of important issues including bilateral economic and trade relations, particularly the ongoing negotiations on a bilateral investment protection agreement and the envisaged free trade agreement between the European Free Trade Association and India.

Mr Berset’s discussions with the German chancellor, Angela Merkel, the Belgian prime minister, Charles Michel, and the EU commissioner for economic and financial affairs, Pierre Moscovici, mainly focused on European policy issues, including how to resolve outstanding matters in relations between Switzerland and the European Union in a cooperative manner. During talks with the British prime minister, Theresa May, both sides stressed the will to minimise the impact of Brexit on bilateral relations and to build on relations in areas of common interest.

During talks with the Ukrainian president Petro Poroshenko, Mr Berset reiterated Switzerland’s commitment to Ukraine and its support for the country’s reform process. Separate talks with the president of Azerbaijan, Ilham Aliyev, and the Armenian prime minister, Karen Karapetyan specifically addressed the situation in the Caucasus region.

At the meeting with the Lebanese prime minister, Saad Al Hariri, the main subject on the agenda was the Syrian conflict. Lebanon is sheltering around 1.3 million refugees. Mr Berset praised the solidarity being shown by the people of Lebanon. During his meeting with the Israeli prime minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, Mr Berset discussed bilateral issues and the Middle East conflict, and stressed that Switzerland was committed to a negotiated, fair and lasting peace with a two-state solution.

In talks with the Rwandan president, Paul Kagame, both sides stressed the growing political and economic importance of relations between Africa and Europe. Mr Berset also had the opportunity to meet Zimbabwe’s new president, Emmerson Mnangagwa, for the first time.

In addition, Mr Berset also took part in two public debates; an SRF debate with the Columbian president, Juan Manuel Santos, on the 21st century social compact, and an Open Forum session on ‘Democracy in a Post-Truth Era’ addressing the influence of digital misinformation on democracy.

U.S. President Donald Trump and Ambassador of Switzerland to the United States of America Martin Dahinden
U.S. President Donald Trump and Ambassador of Switzerland to the United States of America Martin Dahinden © Keystone
The U.S. and Swiss delegations meet during the 2018 WEF Annual Meeting.
The U.S. and Swiss delegations meet during the 2018 WEF Annual Meeting. © Keystone
Ambassador of the United States of America to Switzerland Ed McMullen, U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, Federal Councilor Ignazio Cassis, Ambassador of Switzerland to the United States of America Martin Dahinden
Ambassador of the United States of America to Switzerland Ed McMullen, U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, Federal Councilor Ignazio Cassis, Ambassador of Switzerland to the United States of America Martin Dahinden © Official White House Photo by Shealah Craighead