Ukraine President Wants Closer Ties With Bern

KIEV, Ukraine -- Ukrainian President Viktor Yuschenko has said that he is interested in cooperation from Switzerland on decentralisation.

Both he and Swiss Foreign Minister Micheline Calmy-Rey, who is on an official visit, said they were in favour of promoting bilateral ties, particularly in technical and economic areas.

Ukraine's President Viktor Yushchenko (L) welcomes Switzerland's Foreign Minister Micheline Calmy-Rey

Before meeting Yuschenko, Calmy-Rey attended a conference of Swiss ambassadors who are posted in the region.

A diplomatic advisor to Calmy-Rey, Simon Geissb├╝hler, said Kiev was "very interested" in the question of cooperation on decentralisation and Bern would examine the possibility.

He added that the Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation (SDC) and the Swiss State Secretariat for Economic Affairs (Seco) already had a programme of SFr10 million ($7.82 million) in Ukraine.

Swiss investment

Switzerland is the eighth-largest investor in Ukraine, putting $430 million into the country.

As well as meeting Yushcenko, the Swiss foreign minister held talks with her Ukrainian counterpart, Boris Tarasyuk, and the president of Ukraine's parliament, Vladimir Litvin.

Calmy-Rey, who is scheduled to remain in the country until Saturday, is the 20th foreign minister to have visited Ukraine since February.

During her visit she discussed the forthcoming vote in Switzerland on the extension of an accord with the EU on the free movement of people to include the new members of the European Union.

She also underlined Switzerland’s respect for Ukraine's "orange revolution" in November and December last year, as well as for the country's peaceful political transition.


Yuschenko thanked Switzerland for its support during the presidential election. Bern sent observers to Ukraine and financed exit polls.

He repeated his wish for his country to become a member of the EU and stressed his attachment to democracy and human rights. Kiev also showed support for a Swiss proposal to establish a permanent human-rights council at the United Nations.

Before meeting Yuschenko, Calmy-Rey took part in a regional conference of Swiss ambassadors posted in countries of the Commonwealth of Independent States and the Balkans.

She used the occasion to drive home the need to avoid abuses in issuing visas and spoke about crisis management.

About 15 ambassadors are attending the conference, which is due to end on Friday evening. Besides the visa issue, the discussions are expected to centre on corruption and migration.

Source: SwissInfo