At the Ministerial Council meeting in Vilnius in December 2011, Switzerland and Serbia had presented a joint candidacy to chair the Organisation for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE) in 2014 and 2015 respectively. Their candidacies were validated on 10 February 2012, following the tacit approval of the 56 OSCE member states.
During the discussions at the Maison de Watteville with the Serbian Foreign Minister, Vuk Jeremic, Federal Councillor Didier Burkhalter stated, "The exercise of the OSCE chairmanship-in-office is in line with one of the strategic priorities of Switzerland's foreign policy: a commitment to promote stability in Europe and in its neighbouring regions", adding "Our partners have faith in our capacity to improve security and co-operation in Europe. Close collaboration with Serbia presents new opportunities for Switzerland to contribute to positive developments in South-Eastern Europe".
The two ministers set about to undertake preliminary organizational measures, namely by agreeing to an exchange of diplomats. Mr. Burkhalter also announced the creation of a task force charged with preparing the Swiss OSCE Chairmanship. The task force will be headed by Ambassador Heidi Grau.
Created in 1975, the OSCE is an instrument of preventive diplomacy, conflict prevention, crisis management, as well as the reconstruction and consolidation of democratic structures and of the rule of law after a conflict. Through confidence- and security-building measures in the military sphere and the promotion of human rights, it contributes to stability and security across the whole continent.
In addition to the OSCE, the two ministers raised a number of issues related to bilateral relations. The Head of the FDFA referred to these relations as "very good" and characterized by "ever increasing intensity".
In the course of their talks, Didier Burkhalter and Vuk Jeremic spoke in particular about the involvement of the Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation (SDC) as well as the State Secretariat for Economic Affairs (SECO) in Serbia, which since 2000 has been a priority country for cooperation with Eastern Europe. With a budget of CHF 24 million for 2012 allocated to Serbia, Switzerland hopes in particular to contribute to social reinforcement and integration and to poverty reduction in this country, which is a candidate for membership in the European Union (EU).
The two ministers also raised the issue of cooperation in police matters and migration. The theme of economic exchanges between Switzerland and Serbia was also on the agenda of the talks. Trade relations between the two countries remain relatively modest, but have nevertheless shown satisfactory improvement in recent years of + 30% between 2002 and 2007.
Relations between Switzerland and Serbia
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