Tag Archives: Switzerland

Leyen welcomes Swiss vote result

“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.

Suisse-EU free movement limit law failed

The Swiss by a large majority on September 27, Sunday, said ‘NO’ to a right-wing initiative that would have restricted the immigration of European Union nationals, according to projections released shortly after the polls closed.

According to the polling institute GFS-Bern, voters rejected by 63% the so-called limitation initiative launched by the SVP, the country’s leading party but to which all the other political forces were opposed as well as the economic world.

Wolf: Swiss referendum

“To kill or not to kill?” That is the questions the Suisse will answer tomorrow in a referendum on hunting.
If the law is revised in the terms proposed by the Swiss Parliament, the cantons, which today can only authorise shooting at a wolf in the event of ‘significant damage’, will now be able to act in a preventive manner.

If the Swiss accept the revision of the law, the gamekeepers will be able to shoot isolated individuals who have lost their fierce character. They will be able to kill wolves living in a pack before damage occurs. however, cannot be shot if they keep away from herds and populated areas.

“The aim is to protect farm animals, farmed landscapes and human beings,” explains the committee supporting the law. They assure that the new text is more protective since “only three species can still be regulated, against nearly 300 previously: the wolf, the ibex and the mute swan”.

Why are conservationists against it?
Nature conservation associations, including Pro Natura, WWF Switzerland, BirdLife Switzerland, Zoosuisse and the Loup Suisse group, opposed the reform and obtained this referendum. According to the Swiss Greens, “it would then be possible to shoot protected animals when there is only a probability that they will cause damage and not in the event of actual damage, which removes any incentive to take preventive measures to protect the herds “.
Environmentalists believe that “preventive measures – not ‘preventive fire’, such as supporting herd protection, should be stepped up to avoid conflict with predators.”

On this side of the border too, the revision of the law is the subject of debate. It must be said that wild animals in general and wolves in particular do not care about the demarcation lines drawn by men.

Wildlife photographer from Haut-Doubs now living in Switzerland, Alain Prêtre denounces, for example, “a law of slaughter” which threatens both the lynx and the ibex.

Twenty-five years after his official return to Switzerland, the wolf has settled down for a long time. On September 27, 2020, the Swiss population is called upon to vote on the revision of the hunting law, following a referendum launched by Pro Natura, WWF, Birdlife, the Swiss Wolf Group and Zoosuisse. The latter might facilitate, among other things, the conditions for regulating firing.

“It is a real disaster: the revision of the hunting law (LChP) is totally inappropriate and endangers the protection of the species as a whole”, the WWF said. “Animals like the lynx, beaver, gray heron and wolf, which have always been found in Switzerland, could be shot without ever having done any damage – simply because they exist. This is why Pro Natura, WWF Switzerland, BirdLife Switzerland, the Swiss Wolf Group and the zoos of Switzerland have launched a referendum”.

The revision of the law no longer does justice to the balanced compromise between protection, regulation and hunting, but above all proposes a unilateral change which operates to the detriment of endangered species. Protected species such as the lynx, beaver and mute swan can be placed on the list of species that can be regulated at any time, along with the wolf and ibex. Thus, these animals can be shot simply as a preventive measure, that is to say without even damage being attributable to them. With this new law, it is no longer mandatory to take precautionary measures (such as protecting herds in areas where wolves live), before having the right to slaughter animals. Many protected species are likely to come into conflict with certain human interests and therefore constitute potential candidates for the list of species that can be regulated.

Dealing with such conflicts of interest between conservation of species and interests of use is a delicate business. This new law is in no way fair to face this challenge. It serves a unilateral interest: during the revision of the law, the positive impact of protected species on the ecosystem was completely obscured. Wolves and lynxes, for example, improve the health of wildlife, and grazing damage in nurseries has also decreased. In addition, these species offer new prospects for tourism.

In short, this new law poses a fundamental societal question: how much space are we prepared to give nature?
The vote of May 17, 2020 has been postponed, the new date is September 27, 2020 due to the pandemic restrictions.

EU new Envoy to Switzerland

On 1 September, H.E. Mr. Petros Mavromichalis presented his letters of accreditation, signed by the President of the European Council Charles Michel and the President of the European Commission Ursula von der Leyen, to the President of the Swiss Confederation Simonetta Sommaruga. By that, he is Extraordinary and Plenipentiary Ambassador of the European Union to Switzerland.

On occasion of the ceremony, Ambassador Mavromichalis and the President of the Confederation Simonetta Sommaruga evoked the close ties and shared values between the EU and Switzerland as well as the importance and quality of the bilateral relations.

The presentation of the letters of accreditation for the Principality of Liechtenstein is foreseen on 23 September in Vaduz.

Ambassador Petros Mavromichalis succeeds to Ambassador Michael Matthiessen, who ended his office in Bern on 31 August.

Switzerland travel restrictions till June

Health Minister Alain Berset said that he was pleased with people’s behaviour in Switzerland, respecting the lockdown during the Easter period.

In addition to the measures, along with the continued flattening of the curve of new Covid-19 infections in Switzerland, Berset indicated that the country would start relaxing the measures soon.

“It didn’t go too bad and so we need to thank everyone for that. As we said, this is not the moment to travel or take holidays – for example in Ticino – and as we saw, people have abided to the rules”.

https://twitter.com/didierpittet/status/1249232108620578818?s=21

I’m happy about that – we’re asking a lot from people at the moment, it needs to be said.”

There will be no passengers allowed to enter Switzerland by air until June 13th. Travel restrictions have been updated and are available on IATA Timatic tool. Exceptions applied, information is subject to permanent change.

Berset reasserted that the country needed to remain humble as vulnerable people will continue to be affected until there is a vaccine. Until a vaccine was found, there is a need to abide by the rules and to keep proper hygiene, Berset said.

EU joins UN in wildlife protection

World Wildlife Conference: EU pushes for better protection of the world’s most threatened species

The EU will join other parties at the 18th Conference of the Parties (CoP18) to the UN Convention on Trade in Endangered Species (CITES), starting in Geneva, Switzerland, this weekend to take additional measures to protect the world’s most threatened species against over-exploitation through international trade. CITES is a global treaty that seeks to make international trade in wildlife sustainable and to coun

The EU will push for more effective implementation of existing rules, including through a proposed Resolution on measures for ensuring the legality of trade under the Convention. In line with its priorities under the EU Action Plan against Wildlife Trafficking, at CoP18 the EU will promote better enforcement of the Convention’s provisions by all Parties, in particular by those countries that repeatedly fail to implement their obligations and which may need additional support to avoid trade sanctions as a matter of last resort.

This is an absolute must to address illegal poaching and trafficking affecting elephants, rhinoceroses, tigers, pangolins and rosewood. The adoption of a new ‘Strategic Vision’ for CITES for the years 2021 to 2030 will provide an opportunity to consolidate and clarify the role of CITES in the broader context of international environmental governance. This also includes the post-2020 biodiversity framework that is being developed in parallel under the Convention on Biological Diversity.

Swiss engage in China Silk Road project

Switzerland has engaged in China‘s new Silk road project, or Belt and Road Initiative, concluding the talks with memorandum signatures of Swiss President Ueli Maurer and his Chinese counterpart Xi Jingping  in Beijing.

The massive Chinese trade initiative involves the construction of ports, roads, railways and other infrastructure to upgrade commerce between China and the world.

The aim is for both countries to expand cooperation on trade, investment and finance for projects in third countries along the routes” of the Belt and Road Initiative the Swiss government said in a statement.

The US has accused the New Silk Road of luring developing countries into debt by offering cheap financing they cannot afford.

Critics also warn that poorer countries could become politically dependent on China, and that Chinese companies seem to win many of the project contracts.

The biggest infrastructure project in the world. An estimated 60% of humanity, and 35% of the world’s economy will be included.

Swiss to protect UK citizens rights

“The rights of UK and Swiss nationals in both countries have been guaranteed after the UK leaves the EU, as Minister Chris Heaton-Harris and Swiss counterpart State Secretary Mario Gattiker today (25 February 2019) signed an agreement in Bern, Switzerland.

“The Swiss citizens’ rights agreement will protect UK nationals resident in Switzerland, and Swiss nationals resident in the UK when we leave the European Union. It will allow people to continue contributing to their communities and living their lives much as they do now.

“The agreement will give people more certainty about important rights including residence, working, healthcare, pensions, benefits, and recognition of qualifications. It will ensure that citizens are clear what their rights are, in both a deal or no deal scenario.”

UN calls UK for Assange liberation

First day of new year 2019 the UN office in Geneva, Switzerland, reminds of the United Nations Working group on arbitrary detention (WGAD) reiterated call to the UK that Julian Assange recover his entire freedom. In December 2015, the WGAD had determined the deprivation of liberty of Mr. Assange arbitrary and called for his release.

“GENEVA (21 December 2018) – UN human rights experts today repeated a demand that the UK abides by its international obligations and immediately allows Wikileaks founder Julian Assange to walk free from the Ecuadorian embassy in London where he has been for over 6 years, fearing arrest by British authorities if he leaves, and extradition to the US.

“States that are based upon and promote the rule of law do not like to be confronted with their own violations of the law, that is understandable. But when they honestly admit these violations, they do honour the very spirit of the rule of law, earn enhanced respect for doing so, and set worldwide commendable examples,” the United Nations Working Group on Arbitrary Detention (WGAD) said.

In December 2015, the Working Group concluded in its opinion No. 54/2015 that Mr. Assange – who at the time had a European arrest warrant issued against him for an allegation of crimes committed in Sweden ‑ was being arbitrarily deprived of his freedom and demanded that he be released.

“Under international law, pre-trial detention must be only imposed in limited instances. Detention during investigations must be even more limited, especially in the absence of any charge” said the experts. “The Swedish investigations have been closed for over 18 months now, and the only ground remaining for Mr. Assange’s continued deprivation of liberty is a bail violation in the UK, which is, objectively, a minor offense that cannot post facto justify the more than 6 years confinement that he has been subjected to since he sought asylum in the Embassy of Ecuador. Mr. Assange should be able to exercise his right to freedom of movement in an unhindered manner, in accordance with the human rights conventions the UK has ratified,” the experts further said

The WGAD is further concerned that the modalities of the continued arbitrary deprivation of liberty of Mr. Assange is undermining his health, and may possible endanger his life given the disproportionate amount of anxiety and stress that such prolonged deprivation of liberty entails.

“The United Kingdom has ratified the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR) and has a responsibility to honour its commitment, by respecting its provisions in all cases,” the experts said.

“As the High Commissioner for human rights said several years ago, human rights treaty law is binding law, it is not discretionary law. It is not some passing fancy that a state can apply sometimes and not in the other,” the experts recalled.

“In addition, the recommendations of the WGAD Opinions are expected to be implemented by all States, including those which have not been a party in the case concerning Mr. Assange,” said the experts.

“On 10 December, the world celebrated International Human Rights Day. Seventy years ago, on that very day, the United Nations proclaimed the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, the mother of all rights contained in subsequent conventions, including the ICCPR.

“It is time that Mr. Assange, who has already paid a high price for peacefully exercising his rights to freedom of opinion, expression and information, and to promote the right to truth in the public interest, recovers his freedom,” the experts concluded.”

This statement by the United Nations Working Group on Arbitrary Detention is endorsed by the United Nations Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights defenders, Mr. Michel Forst.

Italy hosts six million tourists for Christmas

More than six million foreign tourists will visit Italy during the Christmas and New year holidays, according to a new survey. The Centro Studi Turistici poll said foreign tourists would mostly vacation in mountain resorts.

Tourists flows will especially rise from Switzerland, the Middle East and Australia and New Zealand, said the poll of 1,613 tourism operators, commissioned by retail group Confesercenti Nazionale.

Meanwhile some 4.4 million Italians are preparing for departure to pass their holidays abroad, the study said.

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