Switzerland’s embassy was officially opened at 11, Svobody Square. Prior to this, only a representative office of the country operated in Minsk.
For the grand opening, Head of the Federal Department of Foreign Affairs Ignazio Cassis flew to Minsk to open the embassy together with Belarusian Foreign Minister Vladimir Makei.
The foreign ministers unveiled the plates at the entrance to the embassy to give a symbolic start to the operation of the diplomatic representation in a new status.
Switzerland, as a permanent mission, has been present at the diplomatic level in Belarus since 2010. The decision to transform it into a full-fledged embassy was taken by the Swiss Federal Council last May.
“This step is of big symbolic meaning. The decision demonstrates Switzerland’s interest in the development of relations with Belarus and hope that Belarus will continue the path of democratization and observance of human rights,” Ignazio Cassis said.
After having increased the level of its representation in Belarus, Switzerland sets forth three objectives, which are to develop diplomatic relations, to promote human rights and expand economic interaction.
The Swiss Foreign Ministry previously noted that relations between the countries were underdeveloped due to the 2006-2016 sanctions. Switzerland was directly related to their introduction because of the violation of the rule of law in the presidential election in Belarus on 19 March 2006 .
In addition, Switzerland joined the expansion of the list of persons identified by the EU on 31 January 2011 who were subject to financial and tourist sanctions.
In 2016, relations gained new momentum with the almost complete lifting of EU sanctions, to which Switzerland contributed to. This promoted the intensification of bilateral meetings on political and economic issues.
“We believe that Belarus’ devlopment in the area of human rights is the right one. This, like any other democratic process, requires time and effort. Switzerland, for its part, is ready to provide all the necessary support,” Ignazio Cassis stressed.