At the 2021 edition of the conference in Vilnius, Swiss foreign minister Ignazio Cassis officially accepted the handover of the 2022 chair from Latvia.This content was published on July 8, 2021 - 18:47
The end of this year's Ukraine Reform Conference (URC) also marked the end of Cassis’ five-day visit to the Baltic states, the foreign ministry wrote on Thursday.
Since 2017 the URC has been held each year in a different city; in 2022, the southern Swiss city of Lugano will play host.
The international meeting aims to advise and support the reform process in Ukraine, which has faltered since the 2014 revolution due to recurring armed conflicts on the country’s eastern border, as well as the disruption of Covid-19.
Key goals for the country, according to the Swiss foreign ministry, include the attempt to decentralise power and to bring in reforms in the banking, defence, energy, health and education sectors.
In Vilnius, Cassis spoke with Ukrainian president Volodymyr Zelenskyy, as well as the country’s prime minister and foreign minister, about the 2022 edition. The details of the specific goals and agenda are to be hammered out further in the next months.
Also, “on the margins of the conference”, Cassis met his Polish and Greek counterparts to discuss Switzerland’s European policy, which has been reeling in the past weeks after the Swiss stepped away from negotiations towards a new framework agreement.
Indeed, to his Lithuanian counterpart Gabrielius Landsbergis, Cassis was also on the charm offensive, “emphasising that Switzerland is a reliable partner for the EU and its member states even in the absence of an institutional framework agreement”.
The trip marked a double anniversary of Switzerland’s relations with all three Baltic states: the centenary of their independence and 30 years since the resumption of diplomatic relations after the collapse of the Soviet Union.