Federal Department of Foreign Affairs FDFA

Responsibility within, coordination outside

In an interview with Tele Ticino, Federal Councillor Cassis praised the sense of responsibility of the people in Switzerland. Prudence is also important when it comes to opening borders: every step must be coordinated with neighbouring countries, said the head of the FDFA. However, COVID-19 has also shown that Switzerland has flexible instruments at its disposal to react to crises of this kind. If necessary, it can also close the borders.

27.05.2020
A portrait picture of Federal Councillor Cassis with a graphic motif referring to an interview.

Federal Councillor Ignazio praised Tele Ticino for the sense of responsibility of Swiss citizens. This will continue to be needed to defeat the virus. © FDFA

COVID-19 has shown that even as a member of the Schengen Agreement and with the free movement of people Switzerland is still able to close borders in case of emergency. COVID-19 has shown that even as a member of the Schengen Agreement and with the free movement of people Switzerland is still able to close borders in case of emergency. "The instruments are flexible enough to respond to the crisis," emphasises Federal Councillor Ignazio Cassis in an interview with the television station Tele Ticino. If the borders are to be reopened, this must be coordinated: "It is a matter of agreement and a joint effort," said the head of the Federal Department. A border opening never affects just one state, but always two.

According to Federal Councillor Cassis, maintaining contact with other countries, in particular with Switzerland's neighbours, was the first task of the FDFA after the outbreak of the crisis. Not only was it possible to better coordinate its work. It was also a prerequisite for solving problems - for example when goods destined for Switzerland were blocked at customs. Direct contacts were also important in preparing the return flights in order to obtain the necessary landing permits for the aircraft. In various cases, Federal Councillor Cassis spoke directly with foreign ministers to make the return flights possible. The FDFA is now focusing on contacts with Swiss citizens who could not or did not want to return to Switzerland and with Swiss citizens living abroad.

He himself will not travel abroad during the summer holidays, says Federal Councillor Cassis: "Since I practically live in Bern, it is sacrosanct for me: My summer holidays are spent at home, in Ticino!"

The course of the pandemic also depends on the behaviour of each and every individual. "We have seen very responsible citizens for two and a half months. We trust that we will continue to see them. So that we can jointly win against the virus," says Federal Councillor Cassis.

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