Today's meeting was the third between Switzerland and Russia at presidential level in the last three years. President Calmy-Rey described relations with Russia as 'excellent' and expressed her delight at the rapid development of mutual cooperation: 'Since the memorandum of understanding on general bilateral relations was signed in 2007, our relations have intensified significantly at a political, economic, scientific and cultural level.'
In addition to regular high-level contacts, each year dozens of bilateral consultations take place. Great progress has been made in a number of dossiers, said Mrs. Calmy-Rey, as witnessed by the conclusion of negotiations regarding amendments to the double taxation agreement in April, the recognition of geographic designations of origin, and the increase in air traffic.
The Head of the FDFA sees further potential for development in the areas of finance, economics, technology and energy. And it was in this context that the issues of bilateral dialogue with Russia in the area of finance featured on the agenda, as did ongoing negotiations concerning a free trade agreement, and the declaration on cooperation in the interest of economic development. This latter was signed by Federal Councillor Schneider-Ammann and the Russia Minister for Economic Development, Elvira Nabiullina, on Wednesday.
Questions regarding international governance of the financial markets also came up for discussion. Switzerland would like to see greater alignment with the work of the G20 and has, accordingly, advocated this position in the 3G Group (Global Governance Group).
The possibility of Russia's accession to the WTO has been a topic of discussion. In this question Switzerland acts as mediator between Russia and Georgia. In recent months a number of meetings have taken place between the parties in the presence of Switzerland, and according to Calmy-Rey 'the discussions have been conducted in a constructive manner and addressed concrete and substantive issues.'
Another topic discussed was the situation in the South Caucasus and, in particular, the difficulties in the rapprochement process between Turkey and Armenia following the successful signing of the two protocols in Zurich in 2009. Where the relationship between Russia and Georgia is concerned, Switzerland also occupies a special role due to its double protective power mandate: it represents Russian interests in Georgia and those of Georgia in Russia.
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