Switzerland Commends Highly Bulgaria's EU Council Presidency, Especially Regarding Western Balkans
114 POLITICS - BULGARIA - SWITZERLAND - FOREIGN MINISTERS
Switzerland Commends Highly Bulgaria's
EU Council Presidency, Especially
Regarding Western Balkans
Sofia, September 11 (BTA) - Swiss Federal Councillor Ignazio Cassis told a briefing on Tuesday that his country appreciated highly Bulgaria's EU Council Presidency, especially regarding the Western Balkans. Cassis, who is Head of the Federal Department of Foreign Affairs, met with Bulgarian Deputy Prime Minister and Foreign Minister Ekaterina Zaharieva.
Cassis said Switzerland had recently been paying very close attention to the Western Balkans. The better the cooperation on matters relating to those countries, the more secure the region will be in the coming years, he said. He noted that reforms were needed there, which called for consolidated positions.
Cassis also said Switzerland and Bulgaria have a good trade balance and there is a potential for expanding trade relations. Furthermore, he noted the fine achievements in scientific and cultural cooperation. Bulgaria and Switzerland are drafting an agreement on the protection of cultural property, he said, expressing a hope that it will become a fact by the year's end.
The contribution to Bulgaria as part of the Swiss contribution to the enlarged EU is CHF 76 million, said Cassis. The projects ranging from promoting economic growth to improving working conditions to public safety to environmental protection will reach completion in 2019. Talks are under way on setting up a new fund for the next ten years with an emphasis on vocational education.
For her part, Zaharieva praised bilateral relations, stressing that trade had increased in the last three years and that Switzerland is the eighth largest foreign investor in Bulgaria.
She appreciated highly the Swiss support for the introduction of the dual-track principles in Bulgaria's vocational education system as part of the enlargement contribution. The programme involves 1,200 school students and more than 30 private companies.
Zaharieva assured Cassis that Bulgaria would spare no effort to see that the institutional negotiations between the EU and Switzerland are completed as soon as possible and in the best possible manner. RY/DD