Official visit of Swiss President Micheline Calmy-Rey to Spain

Bern, Press release, 11.02.2011

The President of the Swiss Confederation, Micheline Calmy-Rey, made an official working visit to Madrid on Friday. At the end of her visit, Mrs Calmy-Rey announced that Their Majesties King Juan Carlos I and Queen Sofia of Spain had agreed to come to Switzerland on a state visit on 12 and 13 May.

The Swiss President was received by King Juan Carlos I at midday at the Zarzuela Palace. The talks focused on the preparations for the Spanish royal couple's visit to Switzerland and on issues of common interest. The last state visit of the King of Spain to Switzerland was in 1979. The royal family has close ties with Switzerland. As a child, the King of Spain lived for several years in Lausanne and Fribourg.

"The ties that bind Switzerland and Spain are warm and close and the two countries share the same political assessment of several foreign policy issues," said Mrs Calmy-Rey at the conclusion of her official talks in Madrid.

After her meeting with the King, the President of the Confederation met the President of the Government of Spain José Luís Zapatero at the Moncloa Palace. Several current international issues were discussed, in particular European policy and the economic and financial situation in the euro area and in Spain. Another topic of discussion was the establishment, at the initiative of Spain, of an International Commission Against the Death Penalty, which will have its headquarters in Geneva.

As Head of the Federal Department of Foreign Affairs (FDFA), Mrs Calmy-Rey also met Ms Trinidad Jiménez, Spanish Minister of Foreign Affairs and Cooperation. This was the first official meeting between the Head of the FDFA and her new Spanish counterpart. The topics discussed by the two ministers included, among others, Switzerland's policy on Europe and the situation in North Africa, the Middle East, the Caucasus and Latin America.

Regarding relations between Switzerland and the European Union, Mrs Calmy-Rey explained Switzerland's willingness to pursue the bilateral way through a holistic and coordinated approach that will allow Switzerland to deepen its relations with the EU in various areas while maintaining sufficient independence in decisions relating to the adoption of the acquis communautaire.

At the multilateral level, the talks with the Spanish authorities focused on the functioning of the Human Rights Council in Geneva as well as on the Spanish proposal, supported by Switzerland, to create an International Commission Against the Death Penalty in Geneva. The Academy of International Humanitarian Law and Human Rights in Geneva will host the secretariat of this Commission as of this coming autumn. This initiative was launched following the 4th World Congress Against the Death Penalty, which was held in February of last year in Geneva and was attended by Mr Zapatero and Mrs Calmy-Rey.

Bilateral relations between the two countries are excellent and close. In 2007, the President of the Confederation signed a joint declaration with Spain, which provides a solid basis for several cooperation projects, particularly at the multilateral level. The two countries share a common understanding of many international political issues.

Spain and Switzerland also have close relations at the economic, tourism, cultural and human levels. There are 64,000 Spanish nationals in Switzerland - not counting dual nationals - and 23,000 Swiss residents in Spain.

For further information please contact:
Raphaël Saborit, FDFA spokesperson, tel. +41 79 335 76 14

Address for enquiries:

Information FDFA
Bundeshaus West
CH-3003 Bern
Tel.: (+41) 031 322 31 53
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Federal Department of Foreign Affairs