Robert HARNEIS - TDO- (FRANCE) -The new building which cost 42.8 million Swiss Francs is to be a model for other new Swiss embassies worldwide. The inauguration underlines the importance of Russia to Swiss foreign relations.

The new building, to be opened on 19 June, has been unofficially named the Rose of Berne after an apple tree planted in the courtyard as a symbol Switzerland taking root on Russian soil. The tree was the inspiration of the Lausanne architects Brauen Wälchli and is intended to evoke the orchards of the Tsars on which the embassy is built.

Tobias Privitelli, the deputy head of the Swiss diplomatic mission in Russia, told journaliststhat the upcoming opening of the renovated and expanded Embassy is a manifestation of the steadily developing relationship between the two countries.

"It is a sign that we want to continue cooperation, dialogue with Russia in a broad sense with Russian society, Russian government," Privitelli said, when asked whether the expansion of the Swiss diplomatic mission in Moscow indicated the development of bilateral ties.

The renovations included the construction of an additional facility near the main building so that all of its departments could operate under the same roof for better coordination, the deputy ambassador noted.

The official opening ceremony will be on June 18, and the following two days will be filled with additional events celebrating the building's inauguration.

"We are expecting high-ranking representatives of Switzerland and the Russian Federation at the opening," Privitelli added.

Swiss Ambassador to Russia Yves Rossier said in March that his country's foreign minister, Ignazio Cassis, would visit Moscow for the embassy's opening and talks with Russia's top diplomat, Sergey Lavrov, on June 19.

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