During the meeting with Micheline Calmy-Rey, Head of the Federal Department of Foreign Affairs (FDFA), discussions focused on bilateral issues as well as themes concerning European policy and international affairs. The upcoming Swiss Chair of the Council of Europe and Switzerland’s commitments and good offices with respect to the international community were also taken up at the meeting.
The Federal Councillor expressed her appreciation to Foreign Minister Westerwelle for paying a working visit to the neighbouring country of Switzerland such a short time after having taken office. She took this to be a clear sign of willingness to enter into direct and constructive dialogue, and was looking forward to future cooperation with eager anticipation.
The Federal Councillor pointed out that the close relations existing between the neighbouring states were particularly also in the interests of the larger German partner as illustrated, for instance, by the fact that Switzerland’s population of 7 million people buys about half the same quantity of German products as are purchased by the USA population of over 300 million.
Micheline Calmy-Rey went on to observe that there was nothing unusual about differences emerging within the scope of such a close partnership. But when they do, they must be constructively tackled and resolved. The Federal Councillor cited the ongoing problem of the limitations imposed by Germany on the landing approaches to the Zurich Airport over German territory. The recently competed, joint study on noise pollution would now provide the scientific basis upon which a reasonable solution could and must be found to ensure that fewer people are bothered by aircraft noise.
Federal Councillor Calmy-Rey also pointed to Switzerland’s intensive international cooperation in tax matters. This cooperation was further expanded in March of this year with the Federal Council Decree to adopt the international OECD guidelines on exchange of information and assistance in tax matters. Switzerland, she said, would advocate for the globally recognized OECD standards to be honoured by all States irregardless of their size or political clout.
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