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Medvedev concludes Swiss visit

Andermatt — Russian President Dmitry Medvedev on Tuesday concluded the first visit of a Kremlin chief to Switzerland, during which he urged Bern’s support for a European security pact.

At the end of his two-day visit, Medvedev travelled to the Swiss Alps, where he honoured a top Russian commander who helped preserve Swiss independence.

He laid a wreath at a giant cross marking the site where scores of Russian troops led by General Alexander Suvorov died while crossing the Alps to fend off Napoleon’s troops in 1799.

"Russian soldiers honourably accomplished their commitment to protect the sovereign and independent Confederation and helped it to strengthen itself," said Medvedev.

Russia was "profoundly thankful" to the Swiss for preserving the memory of the Russian soldiers, he said.

"Such caring, respectful and reasonable attitude to the past is a basis for understanding and cooperation among countries and peoples," said Medvedev.

"This is very important for a stable development of Europe based on partnership, cooperation and good neighbourly relations between the states," he added.

On Monday, Medvedev urged Switzerland to support his proposal for a new European security pact.

As Switzerland is a neutral country without membership in alliances like NATO, Medvedev said he hoped it would welcome his proposal.

In June 2008, Medvedev, on a visit to Berlin, proposed a new treaty on European security, an idea that received minimal support until mid- September when NATO secretary general Anders Fogh Rasmussen said the alliance would respond to the idea.

In a separate ceremony, the Swiss capital of Bern also marked the Russian president’s visit with gifts which have ties to both the city and the Kremlin chief — the bear.

Both Bern and Medvedev’s names are derived from the German (baer) and Russian (medved) words for bear.

AFP / Expatica