Press releases, 23.04.2024

Federal Councillor Ignazio Cassis, head of the FDFA, received Austrian Federal Minister for European and International Affairs Alexander Schallenberg in Bern today. Their discussions focused on the close bilateral relations between the two countries, Switzerland's European policy, current international affairs and the security situation. Both ministers reaffirmed their joint commitment to promoting global peace.

Federal Councillor Ignazio Cassis receives Austrian Minister for Foreign Affairs Alexander Schallenberg in Bern.
Federal Councillor Ignazio Cassis receives Austrian Minister for Foreign Affairs Alexander Schallenberg in Bern. © FDFA

Switzerland and Austria are closely bound by numerous shared ties, including a common language and cultural heritage, extensive cooperation across diverse areas, robust economic relations, and their status as neutral nations. "Our two countries share a common set of values and are working together to restore peace, stability and security, particularly on the European continent," said Cassis.

Global geopolitical challenges and peace initiatives 

The discussions focused on current international events and conflicts, in particular the situation in the Middle East and the war in Ukraine. Switzerland and Austria stressed the importance of international humanitarian law and their excellent cooperation within the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE) to further peace efforts. Mr Cassis also briefed Mr Schallenberg on the upcoming high-level conference on peace in Ukraine. Scheduled to take place in Switzerland in June, the upcoming conference will provide a platform for high-level dialogue to pave the way for a comprehensive, just and lasting peace in Ukraine. Mr Cassis thanked Austria for its support for the conference.

The two ministers also discussed Switzerland's and Austria's commitment to promoting stability, security and democracy in the Western Balkans.

Bilateral relations and European policy

Both delegations highlighted the excellent collaboration between Switzerland and Austria under their strategic partnership agreement signed in 2021. Key areas of discussion included their close economic ties, collaborative initiatives in the education and research sectors, as well as efforts to enhance flood protection measures along the Rhine. The delegations also reviewed bilateral cooperation in the field of security, specifically their joint declaration of intent to participate in the European Sky Shield Initiative.

Mr Cassis also briefed Mr Schallenberg on the latest developments in Swiss–EU relations in the context of the package negotiations that opened in March 2024.

The Austrian delegation also visited the Swiss Armed Forces Cyber Command. As part of the visit, Divisional Commander Simon Müller, Head of Cyber Command, presented the Swiss Armed Forces' cyber and electromagnetic capabilities.

Further information:

Bilateral relations Switzerland–Austria

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FDFA Communication

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