Celebrating 150 Years of Swiss/RP Relations
ON December 4th, Vice President and Foreign Secretary Teofisto Guingona, accompanied by a small delegation, left for Berne Switzerland on an official visit to celebrate 150 years of Fil/Swiss relations. This was a reciprocal visit, in response to the invitation extended by Swiss Foreign Minister Joseph Deiss, when he visited Manila last year.
Official diplomatic relations between the two countries were not actually established until 1956. But informal trade had been going on since the early 1800's. A Swiss Honorary Consulate was established in Manila, at the request of the Swiss Federation Council in 1862, to oversee the interests of the Swiss traders and travelers who came here. Today, Ambassador Werner Baumann is the resident Swiss ambassador in Manila. The Philippine ambassador to Berne, Rora Navarro-Tolentino, a career diplomat and former ambassador to France, assumed that post in June, 2000. Agreements between the two countries are extensive, ranging from taxes to national disaster relief. The first bilateral political consultation was held in Berne in April of this year and will be followed with an annual bilateral meeting next year, here in Manila. This past August, Corazon de la Paz, CEO of the Philippines Social Security System (SSS), made an official visit to Berne to sign an agreement between the two countries, regarding social security.
While Vice President and Foreign Secretary Guingona is in Berne, he will call upon the Swiss Confederation's president, Moritz Leuenberger, as well as Foreign Minister Joseph Deiss, and he will meet with the members of the Swiss-Southeast Asian Chamber of Commerce, which is located in Zurich. …