Tag Archives: Switzerland

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.

EU-Swiss agreement extended deadline

The European Commission agreed to grant  Switzerland six more months  to achieve progress in a dispute over a deal governing EU market access and  free movement of labor.

The agreement negotiated between the European Commission and Switzerland is meant to provide a framework for bilateral cooperation including agricultural trade and aviation.

The EU had expected to strike a deal by the end of December, but earlier this month Swiss said they need more time for consultations with businesses and citizens at home.

However at press-conference the EU Commissioner on Neighborhood policy Johannes Hahn underlined the has not interest in ‘special deals‘. “…Bern should understand that   appetite for special deals and exceptions have drastically diminished over the last years. Now up to CH (Confoederatio Helvetica-editor) to tell us results of consultations. Negotiations are over.’

The European Commission proposes to extend for six months its decision to recognise trading venues in Switzerland as eligible for compliance with the trading obligation for shares set out in the Markets in Financial Instruments Directive and Regulation.

Once adopted, the measure will ensure that businesses and markets can continue to operate smoothly and without any disruptions after 31 December 2018.

 In addition to the fact that the Commission has already threatened to refuse the renewal of equivalence for the stock market in case of rejection of the framework agreement, the Hahn has also been clear on the issue: without agreement, Switzerland will not be able to claim new access to the EU internal market or even the updating of existing agreements, which will pose significant challenges for some sectors, such as medical devices.

“A temporary extension of equivalence should provide time to Switzerland to finalise its internal consultation on the Institutional Framework Agreement. It will also ensure continuity for portfolio managers and brokers active in Swiss equities. We want that European firms can continue trading in Swiss equities both in the EU and on the Swiss exchanges. Open and competitive stock markets are vital for a healthy economy and to provide reliable income sources for investors in equities” Valdis Dombrovskis, Commissioner for Euro said.

Swiss cabinet against EU immigration referendum

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.

 

EU-Swiss relations vector unchanged

The European Commission favorably received the results of the Swiss referendum on auto determination, the spokesperson said. He underlined that the vote brought clarity and indicated that Swiss will remain “reliable partner” in international relations, and those with the EU. (Image: climbing in Swiss Alps).

Swiss voters have rejected an initiative to give national laws precedence over international laws and treaties, according to results coming in from the plebiscite.

Data based on partial results indicated  two thirds of voters rejected the proposal  – 67% against and 33% in favour, national broadcaster SRF reported.

Critics of the imitative said the proposal would have damaged the country’s global standing, and status of an international player.
When it comes to our favorite themes, self-determination, sovereignty, immigration, we are alone against all. In this context, this defeat is not a failure,” explains the father of the initiative on self-determination, the lawyer and Zurich national councilor Hans-Ueli Vogt.

Contrary to the demographic pressure caused by immigration, which everyone feels every day on the train or in traffic jams on the highway, the safeguard of democracy is too abstract” – adds the president of the Swiss People’s Party (UDC), the Bernese Albert Rösti, lamenting the loss.

In 2014, the EU and Switzerland started negotiations on a common institutional framework. Such overarching “house rules” are necessary to ensure a “homogenous application of internal market law in both the EU and Switzerland” according to the European Commission. An institutional agreement would enable Switzerland to strengthen the partnership with the EU and deepen it further.

However,  in spite of the vote, favorable for the relations with the EU, there are just a few Swiss enthusiasts to engage with the bloc. Foreign Minister Ignazio Cassis, in charge of the framework deal negotiations with the EU, will meet trade union and business leaders this week in a highly  likely to be an unsuccessful bid to convince them to support the Swiss-EU deal, newspaper Sonntags Zeitung reported on the weekend.

« Older Entries