Italy-Switzerland, Forum in Zurich to strengthen a “splendid” relationship

The two ambassadors speak, Italian in Bern and Swiss in Rome. Close cooperation during the pandemic further cemented a very close relationship. The trade is one billion a week, more than the sum of those with China, Japan and Brazil. The Italian community in Switzerland is the third in the world.

A brainstorming all in Italian to unite Italy and Switzerland even more. Tomorrow and the day after, 80 experts, journalists, exponents of the economic, political, scientific and cultural world of the two countries will gather in Zurich for the Italian-Swiss Dialogue Forum, an event now in its sixth edition. I am talking about it together with Adnkronos the two ambassadors in Bern and Rome, the Italian Silvio Mignano and the Swiss Monika Schmutz Kirgoezin a double interview that underlines how close relations are, released in the Swiss diplomatic office.

“We have a splendid relationship with Switzerland, so positive that we take it for granted,” says Mignano. And the very close cooperation during the pandemic further cemented it. It was already excellent, “but if it was possible to improve it, it certainly was”, added Schmutz Kirgoez, recalling how borders have always remained open for border doctors and paramedics working in Ticino. “It is incredible how solutions were found immediately,” the ambassador underlined. “It was the litmus test of a complete, quick and sincere cooperation”, echoed Mignano.

The exchange is one billion a week, more than the sum of that with China, Japan and Brazil

The data of the interconnection between Italy and Switzerland, the only other country in the world to have Italian among its official languages, speak for themselves. And the two ambassadors rattle them off together: a common border 800 kilometers long, 330 thousand Italian citizens living in Switzerland, another 310 thousand with double passports (in all 7% of the residents in Switzerland), to which 87 thousand cross-border commuters are added. Switzerland is the third largest community of Italians abroad, only in Argentina and Germany there are more. In the Alps there are common exercises for high mountain rescue. Trade is one billion euros per week, higher than the sum of trade with China, Japan and Brazil. “No other country consumes and loves made in Italy so much”, remembers Schmutz Kirgoez.

The idea of ​​the Forum, an institutional appointment that will be opened with the greetings of the two presidents, Sergio Mattarella and Ignazio Cassis, is to create a dialogue between the two civil societies. “Not a pure political dialogue, univocal answers are not expected, but ideas and stimuli”, notes Mignano. This year the dialogue takes place in four areas: 1) Fintech and sustainable finance: tools, science and society. 2) Migration between old challenges and new unknowns. Models in the mirror. 3) Ex malo, bonum? Health as a common area of ​​action. 4) Climate challenge, energy crisis: what are the answers ?. Each panel, meeting behind closed doors for a freer discussion, will produce a report with proposals and suggestions to be sent to the two foreign ministries. And the Forum will also be an opportunity to present the Expo Rome 2030 project, after Switzerland’s strong interest in the Expo in Milan.

Genoa, the ‘port of Switzerland’

The first Dialogue Forum took place in Rome in 2013. The editions of Bern (2014), Milan (2015), Lugano (2017) and Genoa (2019) followed. The appointment in Zurich – “From Dante to Fintech: Switzerland and Italy at the dawn of 2030” – marks the restart after the break due to the covid. But in the meantime, the forum in the Ligurian capital has already produced a ‘spin off’: the appointments “the sea of ​​Switzerland” which take place in Lugano. Because Genoa is in fact the port of Switzerland. And this is linked to the Swiss Alptransit project to switch freight traffic from trucks to rail.

The project, with over 20 billion euros in investments and the three base tunnels built by the Swiss (Loetschberg, Gottardo and Ceneri) “can now be considered completed”, now we are “in a crucial phase of collaboration” we must “try to strengthen transnational transport for goods and people, with a view to achieving climate goals “, notes Schmutz Kirgoez. The Pnrr, she recalls, explicitly mentions “the strengthening of connections with the Swiss crossings on the Liguria Alps”.

At the Forum in Zurich, which takes place at the same time as the week of the Italian language, we also start from the common language. Manuele Bertoli, president of the Forum for Italian in Switzerland, a Swiss institution, will receive the Swiss award “Prize for federalism” at the opening of the appointment in Zurich.

the choral reading of Dante in the parliament of Bern

But it also tells of the common love for the language the event that was held in the parliament of Bern on the occasion of the 700th anniversary of Dante’s death: a choral reading of the Divine Comedy, with the Italian-speaking Cassis acting the first tercet, followed by politicians, scientists, cultural personalities and the business world. A proposal from Mignano, which was received with enthusiasm and participation by the Swiss, emphasizes Schmutz Kirgoez.

From Dante to Fintech, the Forum will also explore the potential of financial synergies between Switzerland and the Milan market. Regarding transparency, explains Schmutz Kirgoez, “parliament and financial regulators work hard to create the best operating conditions for new companies active in digital finance. These efforts include the creation of special banking licenses as well as proposed concrete measures to adapt the regulations on finance “.

In Zurich there will also be talks about women’s empowerment, about common challenges on climate and energy, about synergies in the field of research. The new emergency of the war in Ukraine, like the pandemic already, underlines common interests and interdependence. Suffice it to say that Ticino is 100% dependent on the Italian gas network.

war in Ukraine, same community of values

Switzerland has joined the European sanctions against Russia, a choice, says Mignano, which was welcomed “by us with great appreciation”. “We remain neutral, but neutrality does not mean indifference. Italy and Switzerland are clearly part of the same community of values”, remarks the Swiss ambassador, quoting the words of Cassis, who participated in the summit of the European Political Community in Prague in recent weeks. .

The Italian-Swiss Dialogue Forum is taking place while Italy is about to change government. But this will certainly not stop the fruitful collaboration, which in the last two years has made it possible to sign 9 sector agreements, including those on the taxation of cross-border commuters and on Campione d’Italia. “Of course, we actively follow the changes taking place in Italy. With confidence! I am convinced that our relations will continue to develop”comments Schmutz Kirgoez.