Tight security surrounds Austrian Chancellor’s visit to Switzerland

Swiss President Ignazio Cassis (left) and Austrian Chancellor Karl Nehammer inspect a guard of honour in Zofingen. © Keystone / Alessandro Della Valle

The state visit of Austrian Chancellor Karl Nehammer was held amid tight security in Switzerland following concerns of disruption by opponents of coronavirus restrictions.

This content was published on February 14, 2022 - 17:01

Nehammer chose Switzerland as the venue of his first official trip since becoming Austrian Chancellor on December 6. Austria has adopted some of the strictest pandemic measures in Europe, including a recent requirement for all adults to be vaccinated against Covid-19.

The town centre at Zofingen, in northern Switzerland, was cordoned off from the public as it was feared Nehammer would attract the ire of people opposed to vaccines.

He met Foreign Minister Ignazio Cassis, who holds the rotating Swiss presidency this year, and Justice Minister Karin Keller-Sutter. Talks centred on the Ukraine crisis, migration and Switzerland’s recent issues with the European Union.

Nehammer promised to support Switzerland in its fractious relationship with the EU that has been at stalemate since Swiss negotiators broke off talks last year on the future shape of bilateral ties.

“We are on Switzerland's side when it comes to building a bridge between Switzerland and the EU,” Nehammer said.

Both Nehammer and Cassis told reporters that they were committed to finding a peaceful solution for the growing threat of a Russian invasion of Ukraine.

Discussions also focused on the growing number of migrantsExternal link entering Switzerland from Austria.

Since mid-2021 more than 5,000 migrants have entered eastern Switzerland illegally by train from Austria, mostly young Afghans with France as their destination. Switzerland wants to speed up the process of sending them back to Austria.

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