For both Ukraine and Switzerland, this is the first high-profile official visit in the history of bilateral diplomatic relations.
According to media reports, the heads of state had a face-to-face meeting and then chaired Ukrainian-Swiss talks the purpose of which was the further development of contacts between the leaders of Ukraine and Switzerland as well as the deepening of a political dialog at all levels. After the talks, a number of bilateral documents were signed.
For more than 20 years, Ukraine has been one of the major countries that actively cooperate with Switzerland, Sommaruga stressed at a joint press conference with the Ukrainian President.
“Now is the right time to advance our relations. We have to use everything we have achieved so far to develop our potential in economic, political, scientific and cultural areas”, she said.
As a matter of fact, much has been achieved in the bilateral relations. Switzerland has invested into the economy of Ukraine 1.715 billion dollars (as of January 2020). Switzerland is one of the five leading countries-investors into the Ukrainian economy leaving behind France, Italy and Austria. The largest part of Swiss investments (almost 60 percent) went into the industry of this country.
“Undoubtedly, Ukraine and Switzerland are interested in expanding partnership and bilateral cooperation… We have agreed to develop those spheres of cooperation that are of mutual interest to our countries”, said Volodymyr Zelenskyy.
He put special emphasis on the importance of the Memorandum about bilateral cooperation signed during the official visit of the President of Switzerland to Ukraine. According to the Memorandum of cooperation that covers the period from 2020 to 2023, Ukraine will receive humanitarian and technical aid to the amount of 108 million Swiss francs.
"I would like to note the signing of a Memorandum of Understanding between the Office of the Prosecutor General, the National anti-corruption agency of Ukraine and the Swiss party. I believe that Switzerland will help us in preventing corruption and facilitate the real return of stolen assets to Ukraine," President Zelenskyy said during a conversation with the media following the talks with his Swiss counterpart.
The agreement was achieved to conduct in Switzerland in 2022, the fifth international conference dedicated to reforms in Ukraine.
In the words of the Ukrainian President, the talks also focused on the issue of restoring peace in Donbas. During the talks he thanked Switzerland for supporting the state sovereignty of Ukraine and maintaining limiting measures towards the Russian Federation until Ukraine’s territorial integrity has been restored. Zelenskyy expressed his gratitude for humanitarian aid to Ukrainians who had suffered damages caused by the war in Donbas.
For her part, Simonetta Myriam Sommaruga noted the contribution of Switzerland to the peaceful settlement of the conflict in Donbas. She also stressed that “Switzerland will not recognize the annexation of Crimea”. In her opinion, the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe as well as the United Nations are obliged to send their human rights representatives to the peninsula.
Ukrainian political analysts claim that her words were not just a routine statement necessitated by a diplomatic protocol or an attempt to show respect for the receiving party. As political expert Vitaliy Portnilov writes in his commentary, the foreign policy of Switzerland is based on neutrality. In other words, it strives to keep distance and not interfere in any conflicts in the international scene supporting neither side in an argument or war.
The leaders of that country speak out unequivocally only when the point is about unquestionable postulates of international law, commonplace truths shared by the entire international community. “And when the President of the Swiss Confederation speaks about the non-recognition of Crimea’s annexation, this, I think, has the same meaning as the statement of the fact that it gets light during the day and it gets dark during the night”, Portnikov stressed.
On July 23, the Presidents will go on a working visit to Donbas in order to get better acquainted with how security measures are kept there as well as to study the socio-economic situation in that region. Switzerland sends humanitarian aid to war-devastated victims in Donbas on a regular basis.
In commenting on the forthcoming visit to Donbas, President Zelenskyy had this to say, “It is very important to me when world leaders who come to Ukraine on a visit go with me to the east and see with their own eyes how much suffering the war has brought to Ukraine”.
The newspaper Holos Ukrainy