Press releases, 09.08.2023

Federal Councillor Ignazio Cassis visited Australia and New Zealand from 6 to 9 August. The official talks focused on bilateral relations, the geopolitical situation in the Pacific region and climate change. In New Zealand, the 60th anniversary of diplomatic relations between New Zealand and Switzerland was celebrated and a Memorandum of Understanding to establish diplomatic relations with Niue was signed.

In his speech on the occasion of the anniversary of 60 years of diplomatic relations with New Zealand, Mr Cassis paid tribute to the close ties between the two countries, both of which are committed to democratic values and strong multilateralism. During his meeting with New Zealand's Foreign Minister Nanaia Mahuta, both sides stressed their desire to further deepen cooperation, for example as part of the Small Advanced Economies Initiative, of which both Switzerland and New Zealand are members. "The geographical distance between our countries must not prevent us from joining forces and standing up together for viable global solutions," said Cassis after the meeting.

In Wellington, Mr Cassis also met with acting Foreign Minister Mona Ainu’u of the Pacific island of Niue. This was the first official meeting of a Swiss federal councillor with a Niuean head of government. Switzerland and Niue intend to establish diplomatic relations in the near future. A Memorandum of Understanding to that end was signed during the meeting. Niue is the only self-governing territory in the Pacific with which diplomatic relations have yet to be established.

Australia: strengthening diplomatic relations

Australia reopened its embassy in Bern last year, clearly signalling its interest in increased bilateral exchanges. With this trip to Australia, Mr Cassis signalled Switzerland's desire to step up cooperation between the two countries, a fact he underscored during his meeting with Foreign Minister Penny Wong in Canberra on 7 August. Other topics were cooperation in the field of science,  the war in Ukraine, the deepening of consular cooperation, and the fight against climate change. Australia aims to host the 31st United Nations Climate Change Conference (COP31) in 2026.

Mr Cassis underlined the urgency of making rapid progress in the global climate negotiations, citing Swiss expertise in the field of emissions trading and sustainable finance. Both sides reaffirmed their intention to strengthen cooperation in the interests of a rules-based international order, which has become even more critical in the context of the war in Ukraine.

In the Australian capital, Federal Councillor Cassis also exchanged views with representatives of Pacific island states. Geopolitical interest in the Pacific island states has grown strongly in recent years. Switzerland is also pursuing growing interests in the Pacific region, for example in the areas of climate change, human rights and disaster prevention. Switzerland is committed to the Pacific island states and supports them, for example, in being represented in international Geneva.

Exchange with Swiss communities abroad

The Swiss community in Australia, numbering around 26,000 people, is the largest in the Asia Pacific region. New Zealand is also a popular destination for Swiss nationals: some 7,200 red-passport holders live there. Federal Councillor Cassis took advantage of the trip to Southeast Asia and Oceania to meet with members of the local Swiss communities. "I was delighted to meet so many countrymen and women in the last 10 days . I was impressed by the strong attachment to their homeland they expressed at the 1 August celebrations in Sydney, Wellington, Singapore and Jakarta," said Cassis.

Mr Cassis is the first member of the Swiss government to visit Australia and New Zealand in ten years.

New Zealand was the final destination on Mr Cassis' ten-day trip during which he had also paid a visit to Indonesia and Singapur.

Further information:

South East Asia Strategy 2023-2026
Bilateral relations Switzerland–Australia
Bilateral relations Switzerland–New Zealand

Address for enquiries:

FDFA Communication
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Tel. Press service: +41 58 460 55 55
Twitter: @SwissMFA


Federal Department of Foreign Affairs

Last update 19.07.2023

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FDFA Communication

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