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MOSCOW, March 22. /TASS/. Switzerland is a comfortable partner for Russia, the new Swiss Ambassador to Russia Yves Rossier said in an interview with TASS.
"Relations between Switzerland and Russia are special because Switzerland is a very comfortable and pleasant partner for Russia," he said. "We are a small country who does not threaten anyone but at the same time, we are independent and can do what we consider to be right and reasonable. Sometimes it annoys people but we can live with that. However, this is what makes Switzerland even more attractive for Russia."
According to the Swiss diplomat, his appointment as the country’s ambassador to Russia comes at a time when Russia’s influence on the international level is growing. "Being a great power, Russia is involved in many processes," Rossier noted. "If we take geography, then it will be the Middle East, China, North Korea. As for important issues, I would mention disarmament, environment protection and other issues. Russia has been playing a key role in many global issues."
"There are many things that could be changed and processes that need stepping up but as an ambassador, I should first and foremost learn to obey," Rossier went on to say. "It is not ambassadors that outline policies, for policies are defined by governments, which is right. I believe my role is to ensure that our embassy contributes to overcoming disagreements between Russia and other European countries, focusing on things we have in common."
When speaking on the current state of relations between Russia and European states, the Swiss ambassador said that "the history of relations between Russia and Europe can be likened to a pendulum swing, as they move from a brotherly union to a complete estrangement," the diplomat said.
According to him, "now, the pendulum is on the wrong side but it will come back so we should make preparations for that. First, both parties need to express goodwill. Of course, Switzerland cannot guarantee that it will be done but we can keep pointing to the things that unite us," the Swiss ambassador concluded.
Relations between Switzerland and Russia are very good, Rossier said.
"We have very good relations," the ambassador said. "We have a memorandum of understanding, which includes an extensive plan of working contacts. These are very intense contacts. Official delegations from Switzerland come to Moscow almost every month to meet their counterparts in various government agencies." He noted that "horizontal contacts are very extensive covering virtually all areas of our bilateral relations." "The working dialogue continues without interruptions and is maintained on a permanent basis at all possible levels." "I believe there are few countries in the world we maintain such close contacts with," Rossier emphasized.
Speaking about the bilateral political dialogue, the Swiss ambassador noted that tensions between Europe and Russia have not affected Switzerland directly. "The alienation that has emerged between Europe and Russia has not affected Switzerland directly, although we are Europeans too and are interested in rectifying the situation," he said. "At the same time, we have sufficient freedom of maneuver, since we are not bound by the bloc discipline."
"The intensity of mutual contacts is quite high," the ambassador went on to say. "It is difficult to talk about top-level meetings, since the specificity of Switzerland’s state system is such that we have neither the head of state nor the head of government in the traditional sense of these positions. The country is ruled by seven federal ministers elected by the parliament. All of them are equal in their rights. Every year, one of them becomes president without the right to be re-elected for the next term and presides over Cabinet meetings. The president has no special powers. According to protocol, the President of the National Council (lower house of parliament) is Switzerland’s top official. This position is currently held by Jurg Stahl."