Russian president pays state visit to Bern

Russian President Dmitri Medvedev has arrived in Switzerland for a two-day state visit – the first by a Russian head of state.

This content was published on September 21, 2009 minutes

He will be received by President Hans-Rudolf Merz and the entire cabinet for talks on bilateral relations and boosting economic ties.

On the agenda are trade, energy and tax issues as well as European security policy.

Swiss exports to Russia have quadrupled over the past eight years and were valued at SFr3 billion ($2.8 billion) in 2008, against imports worth SFr1 billion.

Switzerland plays an important role as an independent and neutral country in Europe and as a global financial centre, Medvedev said in an interview to several Swiss media ahead of his visit.

Merz said he would also raise the issues of human rights and Russia's blockage of reforms to the European Court of Human Rights.

Switzerland is a depositary state of the Geneva Conventions of international humanitarian law and will assume the presidency of the Council of Europe in November.

On the second day of his visit Medvedev is to travel to central Switzerland – the site of a monument in honour of 18th century General Alexander Suvorov. Suvorov crossed the Alps from northern Italy to battle the French army.

Urs Geiser,

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