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Switzerland's embassy opens in Minsk

13.02.2020

Switzerland's embassy was officially opened in the presence of Belarus Minister of Foreign Affairs Vladimir Makei and Head of the Federal Department of Foreign Affairs Ignazio Cassis in Minsk on 13 February, BelTA has learned.

The embassy is located in 11, Svobody Square. It replaced the office of Switzerland's embassy opened in February 2008.

The foreign ministers of Belarus and Switzerland unveiled the plates at the entrance to the embassy to give a symbolic start to the operation of the diplomatic representation in a new status.

“The transformation of the embassy's office into a full-fledged embassy is not just a technicality. This step is of big symbolic meaning. The decision demonstrates Switzerland's interest in the development of relations with Belarus and hope that Belarus will continue the path of democratization and observance of human rights. Although, we understand that this road is not easy and rather long,” Ignazio Cassis said.

In his words, opening an embassy does not require much administrative action. It requires, first of all, the strong will of the two countries. After having increased the level of its representation in Belarus, Switzerland sets forth three objectives, which are to develop diplomatic relations, to promote human rights and to expand economic interaction. “We believe that Belarus' movement in the area of human rights is the right one. This, like any democratic process, requires time and effort. Switzerland, for its part, is ready to provide all the necessary support,” said the head of the Federal Department of Foreign Affairs.

The two countries are also similar in their gradual development, he added. “Both you and we make changes in different sectors, but they are slow, gradual. The meaning of our life is a continuous movement. Opening an embassy is an important movement forward. From now on, the bilateral relations will become more active,” Ignazio Cassis said.

According to Swiss Ambassador to Belarus Claude Altermatt, his country has a large network of diplomatic missions across the globe, and the most recent, 103rd, was opened in Minsk. “Small countries such as Belarus and Switzerland need to focus on increasing the number of their representations abroad, because it is the only way to make their voices heard and their interests be taken into account,” he said.

Belarus Minister of Foreign Affairs Vladimir Makei stressed that Belarusians have always admired the achievements of Switzerland. “Today a new page has been opened in the history of our relations. We are sincerely interested in the development of comprehensive contacts and cooperation. We see a number of promising areas for that, including agriculture, industry and high technologies. I am confident that the new embassy will contribute to further strengthening of our comprehensive cooperation,” he said. The minister wished the embassy new ideas that will promote the growth of mutual trade, strengthen interaction between the two countries in the international arena.

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