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20 January 2020, 12:09

Switzerland-Belarus friendship association set up in Bern

MINSK, 20 January (BelTA) - A Switzerland-Belarus friendship association has been set up in Switzerland, BelTA learned from the Belarusian diplomatic mission in Switzerland.

The Belarusian Embassy in Bern hosted a constituent meeting of the Switzerland-Belarus friendship association. The aim of the public organization is to promote friendly relations between the two countries. The organization will focus on important projects in various fields, mainly in humanitarian and cultural areas contributing to the further rapprochement of the countries and peoples.

The constituent session, which was attended by Belarusian diplomats along with the Swiss initiators of the friendship society, approved the association's charter. Margret Kiener Nellen, the former co-chair and founder of the parliamentary group Switzerland-Belarus, was unanimously elected chairperson. The board includes all participants of the constituent meeting from the Swiss side representing various areas from Chernobyl initiatives to business and government.

The association is open for accession by both individuals and legal entities of Switzerland, including other public associations, organizations and institutions interested in developing friendly relations between Switzerland and Belarus. The first general meeting of the Switzerland-Belarus friendship association will be held in Bern in mid-May 2020.

Margret Kiener Nellen was behind the idea of Switzerland's society of friendship with Belarus. She first voiced the idea at the Federal Assembly (Parliament) of the Swiss Confederation on 12 December 2019 as part of the roundtable on “Belarus: Between the East and the West” to mark the 2nd anniversary of the Switzerland-Belarus parliamentary group. The initiative generated a strong interest and was supported by participants in the event – representatives of political and academic circles, business and public of Switzerland, humanitarian initiatives and the Belarusian diaspora.

Margret Kiener Nellen said: “We have founded the Switzerland-Belarus friendship association as there is a need to tell the Swiss more about Belarus. There is also an interest to present Switzerland to Belarusians through different events and projects. The association is politically and confessionally neutral. It is an additional ideal open channel to develop friendly relations between our peoples in addition to the already existing instruments: the dialogue between the governments and parliaments, and the work of the intergovernmental commission and the Belarusian-Swiss business council.”

Charge d'Affaires ad Interim of Belarus to Switzerland Pavel Matsukevich stressed: “The establishment of the Swiss society of friendship with Belarus shows that we have achieved a special level in the bilateral relations with Switzerland. They are distinguished not only by an intensive political dialogue and dynamic development of trade and business ties, but also by a real public demand for further rapprochement and closer cooperation.”

Photos courtesy of Belarus' Embassy in Switzerland

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