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French-Swiss relations cool after Sarkozy comment

The Swiss government has summoned the French ambassador to express its displeasure at French president Nicolas Sarkozy’s description of Switzerland as a tax haven.

In an interview to be aired on French-speaking television on Sunday, Foreign Minister Micheline Calmy-Rey criticized Sarkozy’s statement at the conclusion of the recent G20 summit in which the French president listed Switzerland among 11 so-called tax havens.

“We were very surprised and dissatisfied,” this year’s Swiss president said, explaining that there was no grounds for his remarks since Switzerland now adheres to standards on tax information exchange set by the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD).

Calmy-Rey added that Switzerland had expressed its displeasure to the French ambassador to Bern.

Sarkozy likely has “a problem with Switzerland”, she said, explaining that she did not know what this could be.

Following the G20 summit in Nice, Sarkozy said Switzerland and ten other tax havens should be “excluded from the international community” for refusing to sign up to an automatic exchange of information agreement.

swissinfo.ch and agencies

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