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08.02.2013 - Press release
Federal Councillor Didier Burkhalter to visit West Balkans for bilateral talks

This coming Monday and Tuesday, Federal Councillor Didier Burkhalter will travel to the West Balkans to meet the Ministers of Foreign Affairs of Bosnia and Herzegovina and of Serbia. The talks, which will take place in Sarajevo and Belgrade, will focus on bilateral issues and the chairmanship of the OSCE which passes to Switzerland in 2014 and to Serbia in 2015.

On 10-12 February 2013, Federal Councillor Didier Burkhalter will travel to Sarajevo and Belgrade in the context of a working visit to the West Balkans for meetings with the Ministers of Foreign Affairs of Serbia and of Bosnia and Herzegovina. His talks on Monday with the latter, Zlatko Lagumdžija, will touch on bilateral topics, cooperation between the West Balkan states, and the OSCE chairmanships of Switzerland in 2014 and Serbia in 2015. The meeting between the Swiss and Bosnian Ministers of Foreign Affairs, the first since 2008, will follow Mr Burkhalter’s visit to the State Presidency.

The Head of the Federal Department of Foreign Affairs (FDFA) will also visit a demining project near Sarajevo which includes the training of dogs to detect mines and is co-financed by the FDFA’s Human Security Division. Switzerland also sponsors a number of projects in Bosnia and Herzegovina in such areas as strengthening local governance and community services, the economy and employment (notably for young people), healthcare and migration. There are 20 Swiss military personnel deployed in Bosnia and Herzegovina in the framework of the military EU peace mission, Althea EUFOR.

At his meeting on 12 February with the Serbian Minister of Foreign Affairs, Ivan Mrkić, Federal Councillor Burkhalter will discuss the successive OSCE chairmanships of Switzerland (2014) and Serbia (2015). Switzerland and Serbia haveagreed to cooperate closely in the context of their OSCE chairmanships. Bilateral topics will also be covered in the talks. In addition to his meeting with Mr Mrkić, Federal Council Burkhalter will meet the Serbian President, Tomislav Nicolić, and the Prime Minister, Ivica Dačić.

While in Belgrade, Mr Burkhalter will visit a project to facilitate access to formal education for the children of Serbia’s Roma minority in the vicinity of the Serb capital. The general purpose of this project, which has the support of the Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation (SDC), is to promote the social integration of the Roma population. Switzerland is also supporting Serbia on the road to European integration, notably with regard to the rule of law, education and economic development.

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