Today, President of the Swiss Confederation and head of the FDFA, Ignazio Cassis, attended the swearing-in of 36 new recruits to the Swiss Guard, a ceremony which is traditionally held on 6 May in memory of the 147 soldiers who fell during the Sack of Rome in 1527. Also part of the Swiss delegation were National Council President Irène Kälin and Council of States President Thomas Hefti.
The Pontifical Swiss Guard, founded in 1506 by Pope Julius II, is a symbol of the historic ties between Switzerland and the Holy See, and was also a subject of discussion in Mr Cassis's talks with Pope Francis and Archbishop Gallagher. Mr Cassis reiterated the Confederation's intention to financially support the renovation of the Swiss Guard's barracks in the Vatican and was briefed on the status of the project. He also underscored the positive development of bilateral relations between Switzerland and the Vatican, which recently celebrated together the centenary of the resumption of diplomatic relations, which had been interrupted for almost half a century, from 1873 to 1920.
International issues, such as the war in Ukraine and Europe's security architecture, were also raised during the discussions. Last November, on the occasion of Vatican Secretary of State Pietro Parolin's visit to Switzerland, the two states signed a declaration with the aim of strengthening their joint commitment and cooperation in the bilateral and multilateral spheres to promote peace and human rights in the world. A commitment reaffirmed today by the two states "which share the values of dialogue and peace," said Cassis.
On the margins of his visit to the Vatican, Mr Cassis also presented the premises that will house the Swiss embassy to the Holy See and officially launched the work. This new Swiss representation, which the Federal Council wanted in order to harness the full potential for bilateral cooperation in priority areas of Swiss foreign policy and to respond to the increase in diplomatic functions in recent years, will also be responsible for relations with Malta and San Marino. The embassy is expected to be operational in the coming months. Until now, the Swiss ambassador to Slovenia is also accredited to the Holy See.
Address for enquiries:
Federal Palace West Wing
CH-3003 Bern, Switzerland
Tel. Communication service: +41 58 462 31 53
Tel. Press service: +41 58 460 55 55