President Dalia Grybauskaitė is going on an official visit to Switzerland on Tuesday, 6 October, at the invitation of Swiss President Simonetta Sommaruga.
© Reuters/Scanpix

The two presidents will discuss the security environment in Europe, ways to deal with the refugee crisis, opportunities for expanding bilateral economic and business relations, as well as enhancing cooperation in science and innovation, the presidential press service said.

Swiss foreign policy is based on the principle of neutrality, but President Dalia Grybauskaitė points out that geopolitical challenges have united us all. In response to Russia's aggression in Ukraine, Switzerland supports and applies sanctions to Russia, provides assistance to Ukraine. During their meeting, the presidents will also exchange views on the necessary changes in the UN Security Council.

Currently, Switzerland - just like Lithuania - places a strong emphasis on national security. It spends 7 percent of the annual budget for defence. The Swiss Armed Forces number 137 thousand conscripts and its reserves total 39 thousand. Special focus is made on modernising military equipment.

The two heads of state will address the migration crisis that Europe faces today, the strengthening of Schengen borders and the exchange of immigration-related experience. It has been estimated that 29 thousand refugees will arrive in Switzerland this year. Lithuania and Switzerland are ready to receive persons fleeing from war and facilitate asylum granting procedures, but both countries underline that the flow of illegal migrants must be stopped, its roots eradicated and external border control strengthened.

Bilateral relations between Lithuania and Switzerland are based on a distinctive and effective partnership. Swiss investments rank ninth among all foreign investments in Lithuania. Most of them are directed to engineering and furniture manufacturing, financial and insurance services.

Over the past seven years, Switzerland has contributed 71 million francs in financial mechanisms to Lithuania. This contribution has been used to improve caring for expectant mothers and newborns, for research and science internships.

Lithuanian and Swiss researchers maintain strong cooperation ties. For 11 years now, scientists, physicists and IT experts from Vilnius University and Kaunas University of Technology have been participating in experiments at CERN (European Organisation for Nuclear Research) where the world's largest and most complex scientific instruments are used.

Cooperation with Switzerland in research and innovation, the president said, will improve Lithuania's competitiveness.

The Swiss president is member of the Council of Women World Leaders, currently chaired by President Dalia Grybauskaitė. Therefore, the presidents will also discuss the protection of women's and children's rights in zones of conflict and the empowering of women around the world.

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