18 June 201923:16

Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov’s remarks at the opening of the renovated complex of the Swiss Embassy in Moscow attended by Head of the Federal Department (Minister) of Foreign Affairs of the Swiss Confederation Ignazio Cassis, Moscow, June 18, 2019

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Mr Federal Councillor,

Mr Ambassador,

Ladies and gentlemen,

Friends,

I am delighted to be attending the opening of the new complex of the Swiss Embassy in Russia, one of Switzerland’s largest diplomatic missions in the world. This event will undoubtedly take its place in the centuries-long chronicle of our relations. We designed and built this complex of buildings right in the centre of the Russian capital, which implied major problems. While we were doing this, we also renovated the historical buildings that are part of this complex. It took us several years to complete this project. But the Swiss, like Russians, are persevering people. Today we can see the result of this work that was done in keeping with the design of the leading Swiss architects.

As a matter of fact, I would like to say that the Russian Foreign Ministry did its best to facilitate the renovation. Please believe me that this is true, since Mr Ambassador has not refuted this statement.

We greatly appreciate Switzerland’s attention to the development of relations with Russia, evidence of which is the presence of my Swiss colleague and friend, Federal Councillor Ignazio Cassis, at this event.

We are aware of our Swiss friends’ desire to promote mutually beneficial cooperation and interaction in every possible sphere, and we readily reciprocate this desire.

The ongoing processes in our trade, economic and investment cooperation are sustainable and positive. We will hold in-depth discussions on these issues at our talks tomorrow.

As for foreign policy, Switzerland has always been noted for a balanced and structured approach and a focus on compromise. It is logical therefore that the Swiss diplomats working on various peacekeeping and mediatory missions, including in Europe, are respected by all countries without exception.

The work of the Swiss Embassy in Russia takes much time and effort. Fresh evidence of this is a remarkable variety of Russian proverbs Mr Ambassador used today to express his opinions and feelings.

I know that he was absolutely sincere when he said that he loved Russia and Moscow. If ever sanctions are adopted against you, I suggest that you recall one more proverb: Nothing ventured, nothing gained.

I am confident that the new building and complex, which looks so hospitable and appealing, will provide the most comfortable conditions for achieving your challenging goals. We will do our best to assist you.

Back to the proverbs and saying, I seem to have the magic touch: back in February 2014, I was with [the then President and Head of the Federal Department (Minister) of Foreign Affairs of Switzerland] Mr Didier Burkhalter when we opened the House of Switzerland at the Sochi Olympics in Krasnaya Polyana. The House was a huge success. I am also confident that the new Swiss Embassy has many long years of successful work ahead of it.

The only thing I would like to discuss with you later is that you live right here, at the Embassy. When I went to New York in 1994, I learned that all my predecessors lived at the Permanent Mission to the UN. It was kind of a tradition, but I barely survived there for six weeks. It took us some time and a lot of effort to convince the Finance Ministry that the ambassador must have a separate residence. Anyway, this is your decision. If you like living here, it is fine with me. But if I were you, I would leave the embassy staff to their own devices more often

Of course, you can also see here the famous Swiss style, which is a combination of chic and elegant simplicity. Even your security personnel – you cannot see them now – are dressed in national costumes and organically blend in with the background.

To conclude, I would like to wish Mr Ambassador, all the Swiss diplomats and their families to be in a positive and cheerful mood in the office and to enjoy your leisure activities, which, I am sure, are available here. On our part, we will do all we can to cooperate with the Embassy as the representative office of the Swiss Confederation in the implementation of mutually beneficial, challenging and promising plans.

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