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Abdullah bin Zayed hails growing ties with Switzerland

posted on 19/11/2013: 1424 views

Bern: Foreign Minister H.H. Sheikh Abdullah bin Zayed Al Nahyan attended this evening a reception hosted in celebration of 40 years of diplomatic relations between the UAE and Switzerland.

In a speech he gave during the reception, Sheikh Abdullah praised the steadily growing UAE-Swiss ties in all fields throughout the past four decades.

"It gives me great pleasure to be with you , in the beautiful city of Bern, to celebrate the 40th anniversary of diplomatic relations between our two countries. Anniversaries, like this, provide an occasion to take stock of shared experience and achievements and are also an opportunity to look towards the common future. In both regards, there are ample reasons to be proud and optimistic when it comes to our bilateral relations," he said.

From humble beginnings, our diplomatic ties have matured into a strong and reliable partnership that has grown to encompass many different aspects, from trade and investment to tourism, cultural, scientific cooperation, and environmental protection, he added.

Sheikh Abdullah said the bilateral trade ties have grown stronger since the inauguration of a Swiss trade office in Abu Dhabi in 1976.

"The UAE, today, is Switzerland's largest trade partner in the Arab world and Switzerland is an important partner for the UAE in Europe. Our bilateral trade has grown by 369.6% over the last decade and has diversified to encompass many different sectors and products beyond the hydrocarbon industry. With the opening of the UAE Embassy in Bern in 2011, we are optimistic that our trade ties will continue to grow." Sheikh Abdullah welcomed the support "that Switzerland has shown the UAE in its desire to obtain visa-free access to the Schengen Area for Emirati citizens. Ensuring visa-free access to UAE citizens around the world is an important pillar of our foreign policy. The UAE believes in an international order where borders connect and facilitate human contacts. Switzerland s support to facilitate visa-free travel within the Schengen Area is therefore much appreciated." He noted that tourism and human exchanges were also key in the two countries' bilateral relationship.

"A growing number of Emirati tourists travel to Switzerland every year to enjoy the beauty of your cities and relish the views of your majestic mountains. There is also a steady stream of Swiss tourists that visit our country every year and some 2000 Swiss citizens have made the UAE their temporary home. We appreciate the knowledge and diversity they bring to our economy and welcome their presence in the UAE.

With Emirates and Etihad airlines now operating 28 daily passenger flights to Switzerland and the prospects of visa free travel for UAE citizens. We hope that the intensity of human exchanges will only increase in the future. We believe that with the development of major cultural projects such as the Louvre Abu Dhabi and the Guggenheim, the UAE has much to offer to Swiss tourists beyond our un-spoilt beaches and famed Emirati hospitality." He added that diplomatic ties between the UAE and Switzerland, however; extend much further than common interests in trade, tourism, and commercial exchanges.

"Despite their geographic distance, Switzerland and the UAE share many common interests and concerns in today s globalised world. We are united in our joint commitment to an open and effective multilateral system and our opposition to religious hatred and violence. The UAE has been a strong proponent of a moderate agenda in international affairs and is proud of its role as a beacon of tolerance in the Arab world.

Like Switzerland, the UAE is a multi-cultural country which believes in the peaceful coexistence of people from different countries, ethnicities and religions. The UAE is also a strong supporter of women empowerment, opposes gender based discrimination, violence, and is proud of what it has achieved in this regards. And like Switzerland, the UAE is conscious of its own responsibility as a good international citizen to those suffering from poverty, violence and diseases. These are challenging times in the world and in our region. In these times, we are fortunate to have partners like Switzerland with which we share a common interest in a just, peaceful and sustainable global order." He concluded by saying: "We cherish the bonds of friendship and partnership that have developed between our two countries and people over the last forty years, and we look forward to further deepen this partnership to our mutual benefit in the future." Head of the Swiss Federal Department of Foreign Affairs Didier Burkhalter said in his speech that part of the explanation for the successful relationship may be that the United Arab Emirates and Switzerland share some remarkable similarities, including federation nature, vibrant character and determination to tackle environmental challenges through innovation and clean technology.

"Both the United Arab Emirates and Switzerland play a major role as donors of aid to developing countries. I was impressed this week how quickly and generously the United Arab Emirates offered assistance to the victims of the typhoon in the Philippines," he said.

He added: "In recent months, for all the uncertainties that persist, new avenues for diplomacy have finally opened in the Middle East. We sincerely hope that these avenues lead to sustainable political solutions." He also said that like the United Arab Emirates, Switzerland is a safe, open and vibrant place for finding solutions to global challenges. Many economic, scientific and cultural actors live, meet and work in our two countries, noting that it was essential to seize the opportunity to build on such exchanges at all levels, including at the political level.

"A key tool for strengthening these exchanges will be our Free Trade Agreement. We are glad that the Ministerial Council of the United Arab Emirates has agreed to ratify the agreement. This is a very positive signal for our respective dynamic business communities, and I am convinced that the agreement will further boost our economic ties." – Emirates News Agency, WAM


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