Federal Councillor Didier Burkhalter to visit the Baltic countries to deepen bilateral relations and discuss relations with the European Union

Bern, Press releases, 29.07.2013

From 29 July to 1 August, Mr Burkhalter, the head of the Federal Department of Foreign Affairs (FDFA), will pay an official working visit to Lithuania and then to Latvia. He will make the traditional 1 August speech to mark Switzerland's national day in Riga. The main aims of this official working visit are to deepen bilateral relations, to discuss the importance of relations between Switzerland and the European Union (EU) and to present Switzerland's priorities for its chairmanship of the OSCE in 2014. Mr Burkhalter will also visit a number of projects that are part of the Swiss enlargement contribution. This contribution is a key element in the bilateral relationships between Switzerland and each of these two countries.

Mr Burkhalter will meet his Lithuanian counterpart Foreign Minister Linas Linkevičius in Vilnius on 29 July. On 1 July 2013, Lithuania became the first Baltic state to hold the presidency of the Council of the European Union. Latvia and Estonia will hold this position in 2015 and 2018 respectively.

During the discussions, the two foreign ministers will analyse a number of topics relating to the EU, including the European policies pursued by their respective countries. Mr Burkhalter will explain to his Lithuanian colleague the importance for Switzerland of its partnership with the EU. The discussions will also focus on cooperation between the two countries in multilateral organisations, particularly in the Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE). Switzerland will hold the chairmanship in office of the OSCE in 2014 and Mr Burkhalter will take this opportunity to explain Switzerland's priorities during its chairmanship to his Lithuanian colleague.

The same topics will also be discussed in Latvia, where Mr Burkhalter will continue his working visit. On 30 July in Riga he will hold talks with the Latvian Prime Minister Valdis Dombrovskis. This meeting follows the visit to Bern on 21 March of the Latvian Minister of Foreign Affairs Edgars Rinkēvičs, and it underlines the quality of relations between Switzerland and Latvia.

Lithuania and Latvia are among the beneficiaries of the Swiss enlargement contribution to reduce economic and social disparities in the enlarged EU. Eight projects with a total value of CHF 71 million will be implemented by Switzerland in Lithuania by 2017. In Latvia, Switzerland will implement 12 projects with a total value of CHF 60 million. During his working visit to Lithuania, Mr Burkhalter will have the opportunity to visit the Children's Hospital in Vilnius. This is one of 20 Lithuanian hospitals in which Switzerland is supporting the training of medical personnel, the modernisation of hospital infrastructure and the improvement of energy efficiency. In Latvia Mr Burkhalter will visit the site of the industrial port in Riga, where pollution levels are being reduced as part of a project financed by the Swiss enlargement contribution.

Mr Burkhalter will hold the traditional 1 August speech to mark Switzerland's national day in Riga and he will also attend an official reception in the residence of the Swiss ambassador in Latvia.

Further information
Jean-Marc Crevoisier
Head of FDFA Information
Tel. +41 79 763 84 10

Further information:

Visit by Federal Councillor Didier Burkhalter to the Baltic states

Address for enquiries:

Information FDFA
Bundeshaus West
CH-3003 Bern
Tel.: +41 58 462 31 53
Fax: +41 58 464 90 47
E-Mail: info@eda.admin.ch


Federal Department of Foreign Affairs