Kazakh-Swiss Inter-Parliamentary Dialogue Explores New Opportunities

ASTANA – This week, Mazhilis Chairman Yerlan Koshanov led a parliamentary delegation on an official visit to Switzerland. High-level discussions between the head of a lower house of the Kazakh Parliament and Swiss officials in Bern renewed mutual commitment to deepen political dialogue and enhance economic cooperation, reported the Mazhilis’ press service on March 26.

Mazhilis Chairman Yerlan Koshanov and President of the Swiss National Council Eric Nussbaumer. Photo credit: the Mazhilis’ press service.

As part of his meeting with the President of the National Council of Switzerland Eric Nussbaumer, Koshanov expressed his gratitude for the invitation and highlighted the importance of a growing partnership.   

“The first official visit of President of Kazakhstan Kassym-Jomart Tokayev to Switzerland in November 2021 opened a new chapter in our bilateral relations. In August 2021, Kazakhstan was visited by the President of the National Council of Switzerland Andreas Aebi [in office from November 2020 to 2021]. I’m confident that today’s visit will contribute to strengthening parliamentary dialogue between our countries,” said Koshanov.

Mazhilis Speaker updated his colleague on the progress of the presidential reform agenda, recent legislative developments, and the ongoing activities of the chamber. Koshanov emphasized Kazakhstan’s keen interest in fostering legal cooperation with Switzerland. 

In response, Nussbaumer commended Kazakhstan’s efforts, noted the significance of the reforms, and affirmed Switzerland’s commitment to advancing bilateral cooperation.

Mazhilis Chairman Yerlan Koshanov and Federal Councillor for Foreign Affairs Ignazio Cassis. Photo credit: the Mazhilis’ press service.

The discussions also encompassed prospects for deeper engagement through friendship groups, committees, and party factions, with particular focus on cooperation in trade, economy, transportation, logistics, environment, education, and scientific research.

By the end of the meeting, Koshanov extended an invitation to Swiss wrestlers in Schwingen, (a national style of wrestling in Switzerland similar to Kazakh sports) to participate in the fifth World Nomad Games, which will be held on Sept. 8-14 in Astana.

Koshanov also met with Federal Councillor for Foreign Affairs Ignazio Cassis to discuss streamlining the visa process for Kazakh citizens in the Schengen Area and finalizing a memorandum on reciprocal legal aid in criminal cases.

In addition, the parties discussed emerging economic prospects. Notably, Switzerland holds the position of the third-largest foreign investor in Kazakhstan, with a cumulative investment volume of $34.6 billion since 2005.

“Kazakhstan’s market provides an effective platform for joint investment projects. We are interested in close collaboration in areas where Switzerland has particularly excelled, including energy, mining, pharmaceuticals, engineering, tourism, and financial services,” said the Kazakh official. 

Switzerland is also among Kazakhstan’s major trading allies. Last year, the bilateral trade reached $1.38 billion and Kazakh exports amounted to $941 million. 

Koshanov underscored high regard for Switzerland’s backing of Kazakhstan’s initiatives on the global stage, particularly within the United Nations structures and the Bretton Woods Institutions, where Kazakhstan is a member of the Swiss voting group at the World Bank, International Monetary Fund (IMF), and the Global Environment Facility (GEF).

In this context, Koshanov emphasized the value of mutual respect, friendship, and trust in cooperation between Kazakhstan and Switzerland. 

Interparliamentary collaboration extends beyond mere dialogue. It offers opportunities to forge new paths of interaction. Switzerland is recognized for its direct democracy mechanisms. Kazakhstan, in turn, is embracing a trajectory of democratic advancement, leveraging insights from international and European partners. 

Koshanov’s visit to Switzerland included participation at the 148th Assembly of the Inter-Parliamentary Union (IPU) in Geneva, where he spoke about Kazakhstan’s role in promoting peace and sustainable development. 

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