Mr Burkhalter met Finnish Foreign Minister Timo Soini in Helsinki today for bilateral discussions on the margins of the event to commemorate the signing of the founding document of the OSCE (Helsinki Final Act) 40 years ago. One topic covered by Mr Burkhalter and his Finnish counterpart was Switzerland's relations with the EU and the Federal Council's intention to implement the outcome of the popular vote of 9 February 2014, which requires Switzerland to have more autonomy and exercise more effective control with regard to migration. At the same time, it intends to pursue the bilateral approach, which has repeatedly been endorsed by the people in recent years. Mr Soini said he wanted to work with Switzerland for a pragmatic solution based on the principle of free movement of persons.
In addition, the two ministers discussed the situation in Ukraine and ways to rebuild security in Europe. Mr Burkhalter stressed that the crisis in Ukraine and the crisis of European security are interrelated, which is why the two should not be viewed in isolation. They also spoke about the role of the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE) in the search for solutions in these processes.
Close bilateral relations
Switzerland and Finland maintain excellent relations, which have intensified in recent years through numerous exchanges at all levels. Mr Burkhalter undertook a state visit to Finland last year as President of the Swiss Confederation, discussing with President Sauli Niinistö possibilities for improving cooperation in human security and mediation, among other topics. This afternoon, Mr Burkhalter will meet with President Niinistö again together with the OSCE Troika, which is supporting the OSCE Chairman in Office in his work..
Regular consultations take place between Switzerland and Finland in various fields and the two countries assist each other with regard to visa matters in various locations. Furthermore, Switzerland and Finland pursue many common goals at the multilateral level, for instance in the context of the UN.
Economic relations between the two countries are also close. In 2014 the trade volume between the two countries amounted to approximately CHF 1.6 billion. Swiss companies employ over 15,000 people in Finland.
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