More than half of Swiss voters (51.9%) have rejected changes to the hunting laws, proposed by the Parliament. The regulation of the wolf population as protected species, has been in the focus. (Image: @nywolforg courtesy).
The outcome clearly demonstrated that the Swiss wish to strengthen and not weaken species protection, pointed out Gabor von Bethlenfalvy, large carnivore specialist at WWF Switzerland, in a press release on Sunday, September 27.
He added that by saying no to the revised law, voters were saying yes to a compromise between hunting, regulation and protection. His group was one of many conservation and animal welfare groups to launch the referendum challenging Swiss lawmakers’ revisions to the law.
“Now parliament gets the chance to draft a progressive hunting and protection law that will continue to protect threatened animals such as lynx and beavers and not put them under even greater pressure,” von Bethlenfalvy underlined.
“With this decision, the voters have missed the opportunity to strengthen animal and species protection and to set clear rules for the coexistence of wolves and farm animals,” stated the Swiss farmers’ and hunters’ associations and the committee for mountain regions in a joint press release.
“Switzerland and the EU are more than just neighbours. We have very close and deep ties, rooted in a long, shared, European history. Geographical proximity plays a role of course, But, much more importantly, the close bonds between our citizens.About 1.4 million EU citizens live in Switzerland and 450,000 Swiss live in the EU. Another 320,000 EU citizens cross the border daily to work in Switzerland” said, w President von der Leyen, while reacting upon the result of the Swiss referendum regarding freedom of movement with the EU in favour of EU-Switzerland close ties.
“The citizens of Switzerland have shown today that they value these ties.
Their vote upholds one of the core pillars of our relationship: the mutual freedom to move, to live and to work in Switzerland and the EU.
“I welcome this outcome. I see it as a positive signal to continue to consolidate and deepen our relationship.
I will soon speak to Mrs Sommaruga, President of the Swiss Confederation. I will congratulate her on this result. Of course, I look forward to the Swiss Federal Council now moving swiftly on the signature and ratification of the International Framework Agreement that we negotiated in 2018.
“I will reiterate this message I passed last January when we met in Davos”.
Swiss voters have refused a proposal to end an accord with the EU, allowing the free movement of people.
In the outcome of the referendum early 62% said they wished to keep free movement, while 38% were against.
Switzerland is not a member of the EU but has a series of interdependent treaties with the bloc which allow it to access to Europe’s free trade area.
The move to rein in immigration was proposed by the Swiss People’s Party (SVP), but opposed by the government.
An initiative to introduce quotas on immigrants from the EU to Switzerland narrowly passed in a 2014 referendum, reflecting upon Swiss-EU relations.
Swiss people are given a direct say in their own affairs under the country’s system of direct democracy. They are regularly invited to vote on various issues in national or regional referendums.
The Swiss government said it opposed curbing immigration from the European Union as suggested in a planned referendum because it could harm exports to the country’s biggest trade partner.
“Cancelling the free movement of people would fundamentally call into question the bilateral path for Switzerland and Europe,” Justice Minister Simonetta Sommaruga said at a press conference in Bern.
The 500-million strong EU insists its citizens be admitted to live and work freely in non-member Switzerland in exchange for enhanced Swiss access to the bloc’s Single market.
Anti-immigration members of the Swiss People’s Party (SVP), the largest party in parliament, have pushed to end that free movement on the grounds that it leaves the country without adequate tools to manage its growing population and encroaches on its sovereignty.
A referendum must be held on the matter as the required number of signatures has been gathered, but it remains unclear how much support such a proposal might garner in a nationwide vote. No date for the vote has been set yet.
The seven-member cabinet said approving of the proposal at referendum would hurt Swiss efforts to attract qualified workers, stunt economic growth by crimping exports and raise the prices consumers pay for EU imports.
Switzerland has upgraded its place from seventh to fifth in this year’s World Press Freedom Index of 180 countries compiled by Reporters without Borders (RSF). However, the Swiss ascendance has taken place in a deteriorating environment for journalists worldwide, including in Europe.
Prem Samy, responsible for the index at RSF, says there are two major reasons behind Swiss upgrade: “This year was a bit more optimistic for Switzerland, because the No Billag initiative, which was a threat to public TV and radio, was rejected by referendum,” he told swissinfo.ch.
The second reason is “purely mechanical”, Smay continued, because in the context of the countries like Costa Rica and Denmark dropping down, others move up.
While the “No Billag” initiative was a “threat that didn’t happen in the end”, Samy concluded the Swiss context “is still a bit dangerous in terms of pluralism and the restructuring that is coming, especially for ATS (the Swiss News Agency)”.
RSF says this year report reflects “growing animosity towards journalists” and the fact that “hostility towards the media from political leaders is no longer limited to authoritarian countries like Turkey and Egypt.”
“More and more democratically elected leaders see the media as part of democracy’s essential underpinning, but as an adversary to which they openly display their aversion,” it continues.
The substance used on Sergei Skripal and his daughter Yulia was an agent called BZ, according to Swiss Spiez lab, the Russian foreign minister Sergei Lavrov said. The agent has been never produced in Russia, but has been in disposal of the US, UK, and other NATO states.
Skripals were poisoned with an incapacitating toxin known as 3-Quinuclidinyl benzilate or BZ, Lavrov said, citing the results of the examination conducted by a Swiss chemical lab, which examined the samples London delivered to the Organisation for the Prohibition of the Chemical Weapons (OPCW).
The Swiss center conveyed the results to the OPCW. However, the UN watchdog on chemical weapons limited its report to confirming the formula of the substance in its final report omitting the other facts indicated in the Swiss document, Lavrov continued. Further the Minister ensured that Moscow would request the OPCW to explain its decision to omit significant information provided by the Swiss report.
Lavrov revealed that the Swiss center that assessed the samples is the Spiez Laboratory. This facility is a Swiss state research center controlled by the Swiss Federal Office for Civil Protection and, ultimately, by the country’s defense minister. The lab is also an internationally recognized center of excellence in the field of the nuclear, biological, and chemical protection and is one of the five centers permanently authorized by the OPCW.