Official events and meetings in Ukraine
The president of the National Council, Andreas Aebi (SVP/BE) met his Ukrainian counterpart, Dmytro Razoumkov, Chairman of the Verkhovna Rada of Ukraine on 23 August in Kyiv. Mr Razoumkov had paid an official visit to Bern in March 2020. The chairman of the Parliament of Ukraine emphasised that Switzerland was a crucial partner for Ukraine in the implementation of structural reforms, notably with regard to decentralisation.
On August 23, Mr Aebi also represented the Swiss at the summit of the
Crimea Platform, a Ukrainian initiative aimed at drawing the international community’s attention back to the political situation on the Black Sea peninsula. In his speech, Mr Aebi reiterated that for Switzerland, Crimea is and remains an integral part of Ukraine. He called on Russia, as the occupying power in Crimea, to comply with its obligations to ensure respect for human rights and international humanitarian law. Switzerland believes it is now the role of the Crimea Platform to contribute decisively to improve the situation of the suffering people in Crimea.
Mr Aebi then took part in the celebrations and events for the 30th anniversary of Ukraine’s independence on 24 August alongside President Zelensky and other foreign officials.
Visit to Swiss cooperation projects in Ukraine
The other part of the delegation, led by Martin Candinas (The Centre/GR), visited Vinnytsia on 23 and 24 August, where Switzerland has been involved in cooperation projects for 14 years and has financed several sustainable development projects. The delegates were able to appreciate the operational mobility plan established by the municipality to make use of the old Zurich trams delivered between 2007 and 2011. The mobility plan has vastly improved public transport services and made the city more attractive. Switzerland is planning to transfer another 35 Zurich trams to Vinnytsia in 2022. The delegation also visited a Swiss energy efficiency cooperation project in Vinnytsia (carried out between 2011 and 2019). This project has helped rehabilitate a district heating system for several buildings (apartment buildings, schools, a hospital) and made it possible to save 18 metric tons of CO2 per year.
The conflict in Eastern Ukraine and Swiss humanitarian aid
On August 25, Mr Aebi and his delegation visited the Stanytsia Luhanska entry–exit crossing point in the Donbass region between Ukraine and the non-government-controlled area in the east of the country. This checkpoint, located along the line of contact, is currently the only one open and allows people from both the non-government-controlled and government-controlled areas to cross the line of contact on foot to visit relatives, withdraw money or their pensions.
The purpose of the visit was to see the situation on the ground, particularly at the checkpoint on the line of contact, but also to give Ukraine 1.5 million antigen tests donated by the FOPH. These tests will increase the capacity to test the population at the checkpoint as well as in the conflict zone, making checkpoint crossings safer and faster. In addition to handing over the antigen tests, Mr Aebi met with representatives of the OSCE Special Monitoring Mission to Ukraine (SMM) and representatives of the Ukrainian armed forces on site. The visit by members of Swiss Parliament along the line of contact is a further token of Switzerland’s strong humanitarian commitment in the Donbass area. Switzerland is the only state that has been providing aid to the Ukrainian civilian population on both sides of the line of contact since 2015. A humanitarian aid convoy including water treatment products, medical equipment and antigen tests will be dispatched to the area by mid-September. This will be the 13th convoy of relief aid sent since 2015.
Official meeting in Kazakhstan
The Swiss parliamentary delegation travelled on to Kazakhstan between 25 and 27 August. Meetings were held with the president of the Republic of Kazakhstan, Kassym-Jomart Tokayev, Foreign Minister Mukhtar Tileuberdi, and parliamentary speakers Nurlan Nigmatulin and Mäulen Äşimbaev.
Addressing the chairman of the Mazhilis (lower house) of the Parliament of Kazakhstan, Mr Nigmatulin, Mr Aebi commended Kazakhstan’s political and economic leadership in Central Asia. Mr Nigmatulin recalled that his country’s economic growth took place fragile post-Soviet context, where the country lacked the know-how to exploit its natural resources and where the ethnic and religious diversity of its population created a real risk of instability and civil war. He said he was aware of the need for his country to make a transition to green energy (oil represents 74% of Kazakh exports), an area in which Switzerland could be an important partner.
Talks between Mr Aebi, Mr Tokayev and Mr Tileuberdi focussed on the situation in Afghanistan. The Kazakh authorities consider this to be a cause of concern for the international community and the Central Asian region. They said they were closely following the situation in Afghanistan and were ready to engage in dialogue with the new Afghan authorities, provided that the new Taliban government was inclusive and committed to respecting international law. Mr Tileuberdi added that his country had offered support for the transit of European citizens wishing to leave Afghanistan. Kazakhstan also hosted in Almaty some of the United Nations staff members stationed in Afghanistan.
Accompanying National Council President Andreas Aebi were second vice president, Martin Candinas (The Centre/GR), parliamentary group presidents Roger Nordmann (SP/VD) and Beat Walti (FDP/ZH), as well as National Council members Roland Fischer (GLP/LU) and Roland Rino Büchel (SVP/SG).
1. Inaugural summit of the Crimea Platform on 23 August 2021 in Kyiv.
2. The president of the National Council, Andreas Aebi (SVP/BE) receives a gift from Ukrainian President Zelensky at the summit of the Crimea Platform.
3. The delegation led by Martin Candinas (The Centre/GR) meets with the authorities of the city of Vinnytsia (Ukraine).
4. The old Zurich trams running in Vinnytsia (Ukraine).
5. National Council member Beat Walti (FDP/ZH) in front of an old Zurich tram in Vinnytsia (Ukraine).
6. Part of the Swiss delegation (Martin Candinas, Roger Nordmann, Beat Walti, Roland Fischer and Roland Rino Büchel) in an old Zurich tram in Vinnytsia (Ukraine).
7. A presentation given for the Swiss delegation on the digital services for citizens in the city of Vinnytsia.
8. Martin Candinas (The Centre/GR) visiting the school in the village of Cherepashyntsi near Vinnytsia (Ukraine).
9. The president of the National Council Andreas Aebi at the Stanytsia Luhanska entry–exit crossing point between Ukraine and the non-government-controlled area in the east of the country.
10. The pedestrian bridge at the Stanytsia Luhanska entry–exit crossing point where civilians may cross back and forth once a month between Ukraine and the non-government-controlled area in the east of the country.
11. The president of the National Council Andreas Aebi in a meeting with representatives of the OSCE Special Monitoring Mission to Ukraine (SMM).
12. Long lines of civilians at the Stanytsia Luhanska entry–exit crossing point from the non-government-controlled area in the east of the country and wishing to travel to Ukraine.
13. The president of the National Council Andreas Aebi hands over 1.5 million antigen tests to the Ukrainian authorities as part of Swiss humanitarian aid.
14. The Swiss delegation in front of the Swiss humanitarian aid truck containing the 1.5 million antigen tests.
15. The Swiss delegation with Chairman Nurlan Nigmatulin in the Mazhilis (lower house) of the Parliament of Kazakhstan in Nur-Sultan.
16. The president of the National Council and his delegation in their official meeting with Kazakh Senate Chairman Mäulen Äşimbaev in Nur-Sultan.
17. The delegation after the meeting with the President of the Republic of Kazakhstan, Kassym-Jomart Tokayev. From left to right: Philippe Schwab (Secretary General of the Federal Assembly), Andreas Aebi (President of the National Council), Stefan Klötzli (Chargé d’affaires a.i.), Martin Candinas (second vice president of the National Council).
18. The Swiss delegation visiting a pasta factory equipped with machines from the Swiss company Bühler.