The talks between Prime Minister De Croo and President Cassis focused on bilateral economic and scientific relations, the war in Ukraine, European energy supplies and security in Europe. Further topics included Switzerland’s European policy and Swiss priorities during its term on the UN Security Council. Mr Cassis also held talks with the presidents of both chambers of the Federal Parliament of Belgium and with the mayor of Brussels.
Other topics of the Swiss president's visit to Belgium include the education and research landscapes in both countries and bilateral relations in this field. Direct democracy, as practised in Switzerland, and participatory democracy, introduced in East Belgium in 2019 and involving the world’s first permanent consultation of citizens, also came up.
On Friday, 25 November Mr Cassis will visit the historic city of Liège in the French-speaking region of Wallonia, the Beguinage of Leuven – a UNESCO World Heritage Site – in the Flemish-speaking region of Flanders, and Health House, a centre of technological expertise that offers an interactive introduction to the future of health and care. The visit will conclude with a cultural evening featuring creative artists with a strong connection to both Switzerland and Belgium. The performances provide an opportunity to showcase the strong ties between the two countries.
Mr Cassis is joined on his visit to Belgium by National Council member Simone de Montmollin (FDP/GE) as well as Council of States members Céline Vara (The Greens/NE), Marco Chiesa (SVP/TI) and Isabelle Chassot (The Centre/FR) .
Two common national languages
The state visit by President Cassis reinforces the strong and long-standing ties between Switzerland and Belgium. Around 15,000 Belgians currently live in Switzerland and some 8,500 Swiss nationals live in Belgium. Trade in goods reached 7.8 billion francs in 2021, making Belgium Switzerland’s thirteenth most important trading partner. Switzerland was the eighth largest foreign direct investor in Belgium in 2020 and also ranks eighth among the countries receiving direct investment abroad by Belgium. Close relations exist not only in business and science, but also in the area of culture. These relations also benefit from the fact that Switzerland and Belgium share two national languages, French and German.
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