President Micheline Calmy-Rey meets Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi

Bern, Press release, 01.06.2011

The President of the Swiss Confederation, Micheline Calmy-Rey, met Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi in Rome on Wednesday. Discussions covered bilateral issues, in particular taxation, and international current affairs.

Relations between Switzerland and Italy are close and highly diversified. During her meeting with Mr. Berlusconi, Mrs. Calmy-Rey particularly underlined the importance of economic and demographic ties between the two countries. In 2010, bilateral trade reached CHF 34 billion. There are currently around 500'000 Italian nationals living in Switzerland, the largest foreign community in Switzerland. Around 50'000 Swiss nationals are currently living in Italy.

President Micheline Calmy-Rey expressed her lack of understanding that despite these intensive and good relations the tax dispute between the two countries continues to widen. Mrs Calmy-Rey stressed the importance of entering into a constructive dialogue at the earliest opportunity with a view to reaching a solution: “Switzerland’s presence on Italy’s blacklist is unacceptable and is detrimental to economic exchanges and investments between our two countries”. 

After the meeting Mrs. Calmy-Rey stated that there was a common political will to hold constructive discussions to solve the taxation problems. These discussions should start soon and should take the form of direct bilateral negotiations.

Other subjects addressed by the President of the Swiss Confederation and the Italian Prime Minister included energy and Switzerland’s participation at the 2015 World Expo in Milan, as well as a broad review of international current affairs. They discussed events in the Arab world – above all the situation in Libya – and their potential impact on migration.

Following the meeting, President Calmy-Rey attended an international conference organized in Rome by the Alliance of Civilizations on the subject of interethnic cities.

On Thursday, 2 June, at the invitation of the President of the Italian Republic, Giorgio Napolitano, Mrs. Calmy-Rey will attend the official ceremonies to mark the 150th anniversary of Italian unification. The events are expected to be attended by around 90 high-ranking dignitaries including heads of state and government.

Further information:

Bilateral relations between Switzerland and Italy

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Federal Department of Foreign Affairs