Foreign Affairs


Erasmus+

Swiss students will be able to continue studying abroad despite the European Union excluding Switzerland from the Erasmus+ exchange programme. Swiss voters in February approved controversial immigration curbs stalling bilateral relations with Brussels.  

Boon and bane

The success of the mission by the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe is measured by whether it is able to help de-escalate the situation in Ukraine, according to the Swiss ambassador to the OSCE, Thomas Greminger.  

OSCE

The Swiss head of the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE), Didier Burkhalter, plans to increase the presence of international observers in Ukraine. He has also called for moves to decentralise power in a bid to defuse tensions.  

Red Cross boss

The head of the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC), Peter Maurer, is trying to make the organisation more transparent. In an interview with swissinfo.ch, he talks about the challenges of working in the Central African Republic and Syria.  

Rules of war

Palestine’s application to join the Geneva Conventions has been accepted and the other member countries have been informed, a spokesman for the Swiss foreign ministry confirmed on Friday. The request was formally registered on Thursday.  

Funds freed

Switzerland has decided to unblock $40 million (CHF35 million) in Tunisian funds being held in Swiss banks, the Federal Prosecutor’s Office has confirmed. These are the first assets to be unfrozen in conjunction with the Arab Spring.  

OSCE mission

Following a three-day visit to western and southern parts of Ukraine, special envoy Tim Guldimann of the Swiss-led Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE) has called for decentralisation of power from Kiev to other regions, a strategy the Russians contest.  

Council of Europe

The Council of Europe has urged member states to step up the fight against human trafficking and prostitution. The recommendation by Europe’s leading human rights organisation is not legally binding.  

South America

Once stalled, a free trade agreement with the South American regional coalition Mercosur – of which Brazil is a part – is looking more likely, says Economics Minister Johann Schneider-Ammann, who is on a three-day visit to the country.  

Ukraine crisis

Russian officials sanctioned by the European Union will be barred from new business interests in Switzerland but billionaires included on the United States sanctions list face no restrictions, the Swiss government said on Wednesday.  

Offshoring care

Palm trees and a swimming pool, games and outings – this is not a holiday camp, but a care home for the elderly at Chiang Mai, in Thailand. The Baan Kamlangchay centre, run by a Swiss, accommodates patients with Alzheimer’s and other dementias.