Federal Councillor Ignazio Cassis visits Estonia to mark double anniversary and discuss digitalisation

Press releases, 06.07.2021

Following the first leg of his visit to the Baltic States in Latvia, today Federal Councillor Ignazio Cassis, head of the Federal Department of Foreign Affairs, travelled to Estonia where he met with Minister of Foreign Affairs Eva-Maria Liimets and Parliamentary Speaker Jüri Ratas. Their talks focused on digitalisation, European policy and Switzerland's candidacy for a seat on the UN Security Council in the period 2023–24. Mr Cassis also visited the NATO Cooperative Cyber Defence Centre of Excellence in Tallinn.

Mr Cassis' visit to Estonia marks two anniversaries: a hundred years since Switzerland recognised Estonia's independence and 30 years since the two countries resumed diplomatic relations following the collapse of the Soviet Union.  Mr Cassis and Ms Liimets paid tribute to the excellent bilateral relations between Switzerland and Estonia and affirmed their intention to further develop and deepen relations between their two countries. Mr Cassis and Ms Liimets also discussed the latest developments in European policy, in particular the Federal Council's decision not to conclude the institutional agreement with the EU. Mr Cassis stressed Switzerland's determination to continue to nurture and strengthen its close, multifaceted partnership with the EU and its member states.

He also discussed with Ms Liimets Estonia's experience as a non-permanent member of the UN Security Council in 2020–21 and expressed his appreciation for Switzerland's good cooperation and open dialogue with Estonia. He also briefed Ms Liimets on Switzerland's candidacy for a non-permanent seat on the UN Security Council for the period 2023–24. "Switzerland aims to build on its recognised and well-established multilateral profile and contribute in areas where it has valuable expertise", said Cassis.

Digital foreign policy
Two members of the National Council, Corina Gredig and Lilian Studer, are accompanying Mr Cassis on his trip to the Baltic States. Mr Cassis' visit to Tallinn was primarily focused on the implementation of Switzerland's Digital Foreign Policy Strategy 2021–24, which is a priority of the Federal Council's foreign policy strategy. This was also the case in the talks with the President of the Parliament, Jüri Ratas, and the Chairman of the Foreign Affairs Committee of the Estonian Parliament, Marko Mihkelson. Mr Cassis explained the Federal Council's intention to position International Geneva as a leading centre for global digitalisation and technology debates. "Thanks to its experience in the field of digitalisation, Estonia has a great deal to contribute to these debates," said Cassis. Mr Cassis also visited the NATO Cooperative Cyber Defence Centre of Excellence. Cybersecurity is one of four fields of action of Switzerland's digital foreign policy. "Digital technologies offer new opportunities for diplomacy, poverty reduction and the promotion of sustainable development", added Cassis. Mr Cassis also visited the e-Estonia Briefing Centre, where he was briefed on Estonia's experience in e-governance – another important field of action of the digital foreign policy strategy – and e-health.

Double anniversary with Estonia
This is the first visit by a Swiss foreign minister to Estonia in seven years. This year marks the 100th anniversary of Switzerland's recognition of Estonia as an independent state. It is also the 30th anniversary of the resumption of diplomatic relations between Switzerland and Estonia. Mr Cassis' visit on the occasion of the double anniversary signals Switzerland's appreciation and recognition of its excellent relations with Estonia. Mr Cassis will conclude his trip to the Baltic States with a visit to Vilnius, where he will participate in the Ukraine Reform Conference and hold bilateral talks with Lithuanian Minister of Foreign Affairs Gabrielius Landsbergis and other foreign ministers.

Further information:

Bilateral relations Switzerland–Estonia
Digital Foreign Policy Strategy 2021-24

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