Relations between Germany and Switzerland are close. Berlin has been home to Swiss diplomatic missions for 150 years. Talks between Foreign Minister Gabriel and his Swiss counterpart Didier Burkhalter on Thursday (30 March) focused on bilateral relations, the situation in eastern Ukraine and hunger crises in Africa.
150 years of Swiss diplomatic missions
Switzerland is marking an anniversary this year. The first Swiss mission abroad was opened in Berlin back in 1867, the Swiss mission to the North German Confederation. One hundred and fifty years have passed since then. Relations between Germany and Switzerland were closer than ever before, said Foreign Minister Gabriel following talks with his counterpart.
The long-standing dialogue between the countries testified to their excellent bilateral relations, said the German Foreign Minister. Ties between Switzerland and Germany are close both politically and culturally. Swiss companies have created jobs for some 400,000 people in Germany, which is Switzerland’s most important trading partner. The two countries also enjoy close cultural links. While works by Friedrich Dürrenmatt and Max Frisch are read in Germany, Günter Grass and Thomas Mann are on the school curriculum in Switzerland.
Ukraine: cooperation in the OSCE
A joint commitment to peace and stability is a political priority for both countries. Gabriel emphasised that both countries shared a number of values, such as democracy and justice, peace and openness, and a certain “humanitarian reflex”.
The situation in eastern Ukraine was therefore an important topic during their talks and is an issue on which Germany and Switzerland are cooperating particularly within the framework of the OSCE. Only limited progress continues to be made with respect to the implementation of the Minsk agreements and the agreements reached at the Munich Security Conference. Both sides have now agreed on an Easter ceasefire that is to begin on 1 April.
Long-term stabilisation in Africa
The hunger crises affecting many countries in the Horn of Africa were also on the agenda. The Ministers said that a meeting to discuss further assistance for the affected regions would be taking place on the fringes of the EU Foreign Affairs Council next week. They said that it was Germany and Switzerland’s common aim to create stable structures in the long term also in this area.