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The President of the Republic met the President of Switzerland

Moritz Leuenberger, the President of the Swiss Confederation, today begun an official visit to Estonia on the invitation of President Lennart Meri.

On the meeting of the Estonian and the Swiss President at the presidential palace of Kadriorg, the relations between the two countries were discussed. The President of the Republic described the relations between Estonia and Switzerland as excellent, and was grateful for the support that Switzerland has rendered to Estonia throughout years. President Meri especially emphasised Switzerland's support to the development of Estonian Defence Forces.

President Meri said that Estonia has two foreign policy priorities: NATO and the European Union. There are people in Russia, who do not favour Estonia's accession to NATO, but it was the same with Poland, the Czech Republic and Hungary, and today, the relations between Poland and Russia are good.

President Leuenberger emphasised Switzerland's wish to participate more in designing Europe, and said that the accession of Estonia and other small countries to the European Union has an important meaning also for Switzerland.

The two Presidents also discussed the co-operation possibilities of the two countries in the field of development aid. The President of the Republic highlighted the need to support Serbia, and called that country ''a child of hope''.

After the meeting, the two Presidents paid a visit to the Kadriorg Art Museum, guided by the historian Jüri Kuuskemaa.

Later, President Meri showed the guest round on Toompea and in the Old Town.

At 4 PM, the Swiss President and the Estonian President reopened the Swiss reading-room on the 7th floor of the National Library.

The Swiss President will also meet Tunne Kelam, the Vice-Chairman of the Riigikogu, and Prime Minister Mart Laar.

In the evening, the Swiss Head of State plans to go on a cruise on the Tallinn Bay, after which President Lennart Meri and Mrs. Helle Meri will host a dinner in honour of the Swiss President at their Viimsi home.

President Leuenberger will leave Estonia in the morning of July 20.

Press Service of the Office of the President
Kadriorg, July 19, 2001


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