12 April 2014, 23:11

Switzerland’s Minister of Economy to come to Russia in October

Switzerland’s Minister of Economy to come to Russia in October

The head of Switzerland’s Department of Economic Affairs (Ministry of Economy) Johann Schneider-Ammann is going to visit Russia despite the fact that talks between the two countries on establishing a zone of free trade have been suspended.

As Press Secretary of the department Ruedi Christen told the Russian ITAR-TASS news agency on Saturday, Mr. Schneider-Ammann is planning to visit Russia in October, to discuss cooperation between the two countries in economy and science.

Mr. Christen said that his boss has started preparations for a visit to Russia back in last summer.

Talks between the Customs Union (an alliance between Russia, Belarus and Kazakhstan formed to simplify customs procedures between them), on the one side, and the European Association on Free Trade, that includes Switzerland, Lichtenstein, Iceland and Norway, on the other, started in November 2013. However, in May, Switzerland suspended these talks because of the situation in Ukraine.

The Press Secretary of the Swiss ministry says that Switzerland’s decision on whether to resume the talks about the free trade zone would depend on the future development of relations between Russia and Ukraine.

“Initially, it was a political decision,” Mr. Christen said. “Thus, the future of the talks would depend on the political situation.”

In early April, the Swiss government introduced limitations on financial activity of 33 Russian officials on Switzerland’s territory. Earlier, the EU introduced sanctions against these Russian officials because of Russia’s position in the Ukrainian issue. Now, all these people are banned to enter Switzerland, because although Switzerland is not a member of the EU, it is a part of the Schengen zone and uses EU-wide rules.

However, these people are still allowed to continue their businesses in Switzerland, and their Swiss bank accounts, if they have any, will not be frozen.

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