Accompanied by the head of the Federal Department of Foreign Affairs, Micheline Calmy-Rey, and the head of the Federal Department of the Environment, Transport, Energy and Communications, Moritz Leuenberger, Federal President Hans-Rudolf Merz welcomed the President of Azerbaijan, Ilham Aliyev, on an official visit to the Lohn manor house outside Berne. This was followed by a working lunch, which was also attended by the head of the Federal Department of Justice and Police, Eveline Widmer-Schlumpf. The Azerbaiyani delegation included the Minister of Foreign Affairs, Elmar Mammadyarow, the Minister of Energy and Industry, Natig Aliyev, and the Minister of Culture and Tourism, Abulfas Garayev.
Azerbaijan not only plays a key role for Switzerland and Europe as a stable partner at the crossroads between East and West, it is also a member of the voting group for the Bretton Woods institutions chaired by Switzerland, which is of lasting importance to multilateral cooperation.
The discussions centred around the expansion of relationships with this important partner on the shores of the Caspian Sea, and the topics included, among others, economic collaboration and cooperation in the field of energy as well as regional, international and bilateral policies. Switzerland emphasised its support for the efforts of the Minsk Group at the Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) to find a solution to the conflict about Nagorno-Karabakh. The discussions also touched on intentions to strengthen cooperation between the two countries in the field of.
The politicians also talked about Switzerland's forthcoming chairmanship of the Council of Europe's Committee of Ministers. The Azeri delegation took note of the issues on which Switzerland intends to focus during its chairmanship, which are the supremacy of the rule of law and the protection of human rights.
Economic contacts between the two countries have strengthened in the past few years, which underlined the fact that there is still great potential for improvement in this area. The signing of the memorandum of understanding on energy in 2007 also paved the way for joint projects in this field, and Federal Councillor Leuenberger will continue the energy discussions with President Aliyev on the second day of his visit.
President Aliyev is scheduled to meet the mayor of the city of Berne, Alexander Tschäppät, in the afternoon of the first day of his visit. In the evening, Federal President Merz and President Aliyev will be at the Berne Culture Casino to open the Culturescapes 09 exhibition on Azeri culture which will run for several weeks.
Address for enquiries:
Vice Chancellor André Simonazzi, 079 597 64 49