President Ignazio Cassis met with Croatian President Zoran Milanović in Geneva on Thursday, April 7, 2022. In addition to bilateral relations, the talks focused on Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, the situation in the Western Balkans and Switzerland’s European policy. The visit included a meeting with students from the University of Geneva.
During the official talks President Cassis reiterated that Switzerland condemned the Russian attack on Ukraine in the strongest possible terms. He repeated the call for suspected war crimes to be thoroughly investigated: “As a state party to the Geneva Conventions, Switzerland is committed to the observance of these Conventions, and supports the international community’s efforts to document and sanction war crimes.”
The meeting also provided an opportunity to address the situation in the Western Balkans. Mr Cassis praised Croatia’s commitment to supporting the integration of more states into the EU, as the prospect of accession can contribute to stability in the region.
With regard to European policy, Mr Cassis reaffirmed that Switzerland aims to stabilise and further develop its bilateral path with the EU. He outlined the main thrust of the Federal Council’s approach for a negotiation package with the EU and for resolving institutional issues in the individual market access agreements. Switzerland’s second contribution to selected EU member states, which includes Croatia, was also discussed, as was Switzerland’s association to Horizon Europe and Erasmus+.
Bilateral relations between Switzerland and Croatia have benefited in recent years from the two countries’ cooperation within the framework of Switzerland’s first EU enlargement contribution. Of the twelve projects that make up Switzerland’s enlargement contribution to Croatia, two have been completed and the rest will be finished by the end of 2024. Priority areas are water infrastructure and vocational education and training, research cooperation, demining and strengthening civil society.
For both presidents the visit was testimony to the excellent relations between Switzerland and Croatia. There are currently 28,000 Croatian citizens living in Switzerland and 1,500 Swiss citizens living in Croatia.
The Croatian president was received in Geneva. This is in line with the Swiss president’s aim to receive foreign guests in different parts of Switzerland during his tenure – as a way to show the world how diverse a country Switzerland is, while at the same time making foreign policy tangible throughout Switzerland.
The presidential visit also included an exchange between the two presidents with students from Geneva on the topic of ‘Security policy challenges in Europe and Swiss neutrality’, moderated by former federal councillor, Professor Micheline Calmy-Rey, and a discussion with members of the Croatian diaspora.