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During the first debate in the Swiss parliament, on 4 March, on the 9 February referendum on the freedom of movement, Foreign Affairs Minister Didier Burkhalter was tough and relatively optimistic in his search for a solution that will be acceptable to the EU.

The Federal Council (Swiss government) wants to maintain bilateral agreements, and is even willing to "review and consolidate" them. "It is more of an offensive than defensive approach, even if there are many questions," conceded Burkhalter. In the short term, Berne hopes to find a satisfactory solution in order to extend the agreement on freedom of movement to Croatia. "In this transitory period, contingencies were planned in the long term, but in spite of this it should be possible to find a solution that would guarantee non-discrimination, and the Federal Council plans to do this before Easter," the minister promised.

He hopes Berne will manage to find a solution that is favourable to Brussels, while remaining firm over market access. "We maintain our will to discuss the institutional...

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