- 07 Feb 2024 10:10 am CET
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Foreign Minister Ignazio Cassis has invited China to the high-level Ukraine peace conference envisaged by Switzerland. Beijing has taken note of this, but does not believe that a decisive solution to the conflict can be achieved without Russia.
However, as Cassis told the media in Beijing on Wednesday, his discussion partners have signaled openness. A response to the invitation is still pending. However, he is hoping for help from China, as the country has great influence on the government in Moscow according to him.
Beijing had shown itself to be open to the best possible support for a path to a peace solution in Ukraine. South Korea and India, which the Foreign Minister had previously visited, had also signaled this.
After his meetings with Foreign Minister Wang Yi and Vice President Han Zheng, Cassis concluded that China considers a decisive peace conference without Russia to be unrealistic. Many countries were looking for a peaceful solution for Ukraine. It was clear that this could only be achieved with Russia.
The aim of the summit planned by Switzerland at the request of Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyi was to gather proposals for solutions. "If you don't dare to start, you won't reach your goal," said Cassis. In view of the victims and the destruction, there was no time to lose.
The foreign ministry in Beijing said on Wednesday that China would use its own methods to advance peace talks.
On the reconstruction of Ukraine after the war, Cassis explained that China would play a role in this. Multilateral banks, in which China is also involved, would accompany the reconstruction.
The reconstruction conference in Lugano in July 2022 laid down the principles for this and linked them to a reform agenda for Ukraine. It is logical that investors are reluctant to invest in the ongoing war.
Visa facilitation for tourism
In addition to the Ukraine peace conference, which Mr Cassis promoted during his mission, Mr Cassis and his partners discussed geopolitical, bilateral and human rights issues in Beijing. The visit served to resume the strategic dialog at foreign minister level, which had been interrupted by the Covid-19 pandemic.
As Cassis explained, he raised the issue of the oppressed Uyghur minority in Xinjiang with Wang Yi. The ten-year free trade agreement between China and Switzerland is to be modernized. The two countries agreed to ease visa requirements in order to revive tourism, which came to a standstill during the Covid-19 pandemic.
Last stop Philippines
China is Switzerland's most important trading partner in Asia. After the media conference in Beijing, Mr. Cassis and his delegation travelled on to Manila. There Cassis will meet the Philippine Foreign Minister Enrique Manalo on the last stop of his Asia mission.
On his current trip, the Swiss Foreign Minister has been visiting India, South Korea, China and the Philippines since Monday. Mr Cassis first met the Indian Foreign Minister Subrahmanyam Jaishankar.
This was followed on Tuesday by talks in Seoul with South Korean Foreign Minister Cho Tae-yul. South Korea has been a non-permanent member of the UN Security Council since the beginning of 2024 - at the same time as Switzerland. The Asia-Pacific region is a priority of the 2024-2027 foreign policy strategy.