Both sides stressed that the three-year period of uncertainty in Swiss-Croatian relations had come to an end with the entry into force of Protocol III extending the free movement of persons to Croatia. The Federal Council decided to ratify Protocol III in December 2016, following the adoption by Parliament of the act implementing Art. 121a of the Federal Constitution (implementation of the article on immigration). There will be a number of implementation phases over the ten-year transition period, which runs to the end of 2026.
Following the ratification of Protocol III, Switzerland has been fully associated to Horizon 2020, the EU’s current framework research programme, since the start of 2017. Switzerland and Croatia are involved in 48 joint projects in the programme. President Leuthard explained the decision reached with the EU to renew negotiations and discussions on all pending dossiers and to continue negotiations on an institutional agreement. The subject of Brexit also featured among the discussions on European policy.
Further topics included cooperation regarding Switzerland's enlargement contribution, migration to Europe and the situation in South-Eastern
Europe. The president acknowledged Croatia's humanitarian efforts in dealing with the refugee crisis and praised the country for acting as an anchor of stability in the region.
Second-largest trade partner in South-Eastern Europe
Bilateral relations between Switzerland and Croatia are very good and have become much stronger over the last decade, both politically and economically. Over 30,000 Croatian nationals live in Switzerland, and around 1,400 Swiss nationals live in Croatia. The country is now Switzerland’s second-largest trade partner in South-Eastern Europe. In 2016 the volume of trade rose by 13 per cent compared to the previous year, to around CHF 425 million.
In Zagreb President Leuthard also visited the Mirogoj cemetery, where she laid a wreath at the Wall of Pain, a monument to victims of the Croatian War of Independence of 1991 to 1995. In the afternoon she also opened the new premises of the Swiss embassy in the Croatian capital.
Address for enquiries
General Secretariat of the Federal Department of Environment, Transport, Energy and Communications; General Secretariat DETEC