Federal Councillor Ignazio Cassis to travel to Hungary and the Western Balkans

Press releases, 21.05.2024

On Wednesday, 22 May, Federal Councillor Ignazio Cassis will travel to Budapest to meet with his Hungarian counterpart Péter Szijjártó and Minister for European Union Affairs Janos Bóka. He will also pay a courtesy visit to President Tamás Sulyok. Hungary will hold the presidency of the Council of the EU in the second half of 2024. Following his visit to Hungary, Mr Cassis will travel to Montenegro on 23 May at the invitation of Foreign Minister Filip Ivanovic, before meeting Serbian Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Finance Siniša Mali in Belgrade on Friday, 24 May.The meetings will focus on Switzerland's bilateral relations with the three countries, European policy and the European security situation.

Graphic of Federal Councillor Cassis' trip to Hungary and the Western Balkans from 22-24 May.
Federal Councillor Cassis travels to Hungary and the Western Balkans from 22-24 May. © FDFA

In light of Hungary's forthcoming presidency of the Council of the EU, Mr Cassis will hold bilateral talks with Mr Szijjártó and Mr Bóka in the Hungarian capital. The discussions with Mr Bóka will primarily address the European policy priorities of both countries in the coming months. For Switzerland, it is crucial to stabilise and further develop its close relations with the EU for the benefit of all, and the support of EU member states is important in the context of ongoing negotiations between Switzerland and the EU. Mr Cassis and Mr Szijjártó will also discuss the wide-ranging relations between Switzerland and Hungary, including cooperation under Switzerland's second contribution to selected EU member states. Within this framework, Switzerland is providing Hungary with CHF 87.6 million in funding to support projects that promote economic growth and social progress.

Significant historical and economic links with Hungary

Another topic on the agenda will be the opportunities and challenges of bilateral economic relations. Switzerland is one of the largest investors in Hungary, with around 900 Swiss companies currently based there, creating over 29,000 jobs.

In addition to assuming the presidency of the Council of the EU, Hungary will also host the next summit of the European Political Community in November, a platform actively supported by Switzerland to promote political dialogue and cooperation on the European continent.

Mr Cassis will also be received by President Tamás Sulyok in Budapest for a courtesy visit, underscoring the close historical ties between Switzerland and Hungary, particularly the integration of 12,000 Hungarian refugees into Swiss society after the 1956 uprising.

First visit by a federal councillor to Montenegro

Mr Cassis will then travel to the capital of Montenegro, Podgorica, where he will hold a bilateral meeting with Foreign Minister Filip Ivanović, followed by courtesy visits to Prime Minister Milojko Spajić and President Jakov Milatović. Switzerland and Montenegro maintain good bilateral relations governed by numerous agreements, particularly in the economic, migration and air transport sectors. Mr Cassis' visit will serve to establish contacts with the new government and discuss the current situation in the Western Balkans. As Montenegro's government strives for rapid EU accession, Switzerland supports the EU perspective of the Western Balkan states through numerous regional cooperation projects. Montenegro is also in the same voting group as Switzerland at the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD).

Third stop: Belgrade

At the end of his trip, Mr Cassis will travel to the Serbian capital Belgrade. There, the head of the FDFA will meet Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Finance Siniša Mali to discuss bilateral relations between Switzerland and Serbia, the EU-led process to normalise relations between Serbia and Kosovo and the Western Balkan states' relationship with the rest of Europe and the European Union. Switzerland and Serbia enjoy dynamic and wide-ranging bilateral relations, underpinned by robust person-to-person and cultural connections. The two countries have concluded a number of agreements, especially in the economic, migration and social security spheres, and work together effectively in multilateral bodies as well as in the voting groups of the World Bank, the International Monetary Fund and the EBRD. Switzerland also runs an extensive cooperation programme with Serbia, aimed at supporting the country's efforts to integrate with the rest of Europe. The programme focuses on fostering economic development, tackling climate change and strengthening the rule of law. Under the current cooperation strategy, an annual budget of approximately CHF 26 million is allocated to these initiatives.

Mr Cassis will also use his trip to Hungary, Montenegro and Serbia as an opportunity to discuss the security situation in Europe and the upcoming Summit on Peace in Ukraineat the Bürgenstock resort. At this first summit of heads of state and government in June, Switzerland will seek to facilitate a common understanding of potential avenues towards a just and lasting peace in Ukraine, thereby laying the groundwork for initiating a peace process.

Further information:

Bilateral relations Switzerland–Hungary
Bilateral relations Switzerland–Montenegro
Bilateral relations Switzerland–Serbia

Address for enquiries:

FDFA Communication
Federal Palace West Wing
CH-3003 Bern, Switzerland
Tel. Press service: +41 58 460 55 55
E-mail: kommunikation@eda.admin.ch
Twitter: @SwissMFA


Federal Department of Foreign Affairs