Slovenian President Borut Pahor paid an official visit to Switzerland on Thursday, 19 September. President Ueli Maurer and Federal Councillor Ignazio Cassis received the Slovenian delegation at the Lohn country residence. Both sides stressed the strong ties between the two countries and the dynamic state of relations.
The good contacts between Switzerland and Slovenia play a key role in science and research, environmental issues and economic relations. The level of bilateral trade grew by more than 50 per cent between 2017 and 2018 and reached an all-time high. Swiss companies, mainly in the pharmaceuticals sector, are among the main investors in Slovenia, and Swiss exports increased by 280 per cent in the first half of 2019. Both countries also work closely together in the framework of the Alpine Convention.
Switzerland was represented at the official talks by President Ueli Maurer, Federal Councillor Ignazio Cassis and the State Secretary for Education, Research and Innovation, Martina Hirayama; Slovenia was represented by the Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Education, Science and Sport, Jernej Pikalo. Prior to the talks, Ms Hirayama and Mr Pikalo had an opportunity to discuss ways of stepping up research cooperation.
The two presidents stressed Switzerland’s role as an important partner for the European Union. Slovenia has been a member of the EU since 2004, and will assume the presidency of the EU Council in the second half of 2021 for the second time. During the talks, President Maurer reaffirmed the Federal Council’s willingness to conclude an institutional agreement between Switzerland and the EU.
Further topics addressed included the challenges posed by digital transformation. President Maurer and Federal Councillor Cassis took the opportunity to refer to the ’Swiss Digital Initiative’ on respect for basic ethical rules on handling data, as well as the creation of a Geneva-based science diplomacy foundation. President Pahor spoke of Slovenia’s plans, in cooperation with UNESCO, to open a centre for artificial intelligence. The two sides agreed to further exchanges on digital transformation.
Switzerland welcomes Slovenia’s efforts to integrate more states into the EU as the prospect of accession can contribute to stability in the region. In addition to the official talks, President Pahor paid a courtesy visit to National Council president Marina Carobbio Guscetti on Wednesday.