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Minister Petříček in Bern discussed strengthening trade and relations between Switzerland and the EU
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Minister Petříček in Bern discussed strengthening trade and relations between Switzerland and the EU

 

Czech Minister of Foreign Affairs Tomáš Petříček met with his Swiss counterpart Ignazio Cassis on Tuesday, 6 October 2020 in Bern. The meeting focused on the support of Czech-Swiss trade and investment relations, current EU issues, including Brexit and migration. The ministers also discussed the fight against COVID-19, especially the issue of cross-border workers.

"We have a lot in common with Switzerland, which is home to a large Czech-Swiss community, Czechoslovaks who left after the Prague Spring in 1968," Minister Petříček said. "The second pillar of our cooperation is trade. That is why I am very happy to be able to meet my Swiss counterpart and discuss ways we can help each other and work together. I also thanked him for the very constructive cooperation during the spring wave of the pandemic, when we were dealing with the return of Czech and Swiss nationals from different parts of the world. There were several dozen people on each side in extremely difficult situations."

In addition to bilateral relations, the ministers also addressed the forthcoming Brexit and Switzerland's cooperation with the EU in employment, free movement of persons, etc. Another topic was sharing experiences in combating the coronavirus pandemic, especially in connection with cross-border workers. "Hundreds of thousands of people travel to Switzerland every day for work," Petříček said. "Czechs may be surprised to know how many nurses from Poland come to our country or how many Czechs go to work in social services in Germany or Austria, for example. It has its advantages and disadvantages; the Swiss experience is highly valuable in this regard."

Besides the talks with the Swiss Minister, the head of Czech diplomacy also met with Czech entrepreneurs who operate in Switzerland and who in many cases received developmental assistance from the Czech embassy as well as selected Swiss companies. "Switzerland is a very innovative country, so the local market is relatively complex," the Czech Minister of Foreign Affairs explained. "That is why we organised this working breakfast in cooperation with our embassy in Bern and I am glad that representatives of both Czech and Swiss businesses were able to meet and discuss mutually beneficial cooperation in the fields of telecommunications, 5G networks and digital innovation or pharmaceuticals. The future of Czech business in Switzerland lies squarely in digitisation and healthcare."

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