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Press review Stories making the Swiss Sunday papers

Swiss newspapers are unanimously concerned by Trump's behaviour


Trump, Trump, Trump: the US president and the constitutional crisis engulfing America is the main theme in all Swiss newspapers this Sunday. Other issues include the police asking pharmacists to help in the fight against terrorism and a new way found by the European Union to exert pressure on Switzerland.

“First success for Trump’s opponents” is the front page headline in the SonntagsZeitung, referring to the decision by a US federal judge on Friday to lift Trump’s immigration order temporarily barring refugees and citizens from seven mainly Muslim countries. One of several happy arrivals at US airports pictured on the front page is Swiss-based scientist Samira Asgari.

“Keep your tiny little hands off our rights” said a protestor’s poster, illustrating a double-page article entitled “General strike against Trump”. Demonstrations were also justified in Switzerland, political philosopher Georg Kohler told the paper, “if they are aimed at concrete decisions taken by Trump, for example if Swiss dual nationals are affected by the ban”.

“Living in a democracy means being able to make your voice heard,” Kohler said.

The SonntagsBlick shook its head at Trump’s lies and “alternative facts”, his secrecy – “he doesn’t inform Congress before announcing an executive order” – and his general vulgarity – “no trace of diplomatic tact whatsoever”.

The Swiss economy could be targeted by the US government under Trump, warned the Schweiz am Sonntag. Because of the large trade deficit – from a US perspective – and the Swiss National Bank’s intervention to weaken the franc, Switzerland could face retaliatory measures, it said.

However, Switzerland could gain importance as a “calming influence” given the rising tensions between Iran and the US under Trump, pointed out the SonntagsBlick. “Both countries trust Switzerland, which is considered more independent than other potential intermediaries,” an anonymous Swiss diplomat told the paper. He added that, should Trump attack the United Nations, Geneva’s position as a UN seat could be strengthened to the detriment of New York.

“Switzerland should judge Trump by the facts, not by his smoke grenades,” reckoned the Zentralschweiz am Sonntag, which said the Swiss government, with an eye on Swiss firms in the US, had recommended that the head of the Swiss-American chamber of commerce not criticise Trump in public. “It can only do harm,” the paper said.

Chemical bothers

Pharmacists who suspect customers could be involved in terrorism – notably if they ask for certain substances that could be used to manufacture explosives – have been asked to report them to the authorities, reported the SonntagsZeitung and Le Matin Dimanche.

The Federal Office of Police (Fedpol) wrote to Pharmasuisse, the industry umbrella organisation, asking for help from pharmacists. Fedpol, which listed 15 substances that should ring alarm bells, says there have already been several reports that led to “detailed clarifications”. However, no cases had a link to terrorism, it said.

Under pressure

According to the NZZ am Sonntag, the European Union has found a new way of making Switzerland agree to an institutional framework treaty which would involve Swiss laws changing automatically as EU rules evolved and would require Switzerland to follow the rulings of the European Court of Justice.

If Switzerland refuses to adapt existing treaties to new EU rules, it would cause a headache for Swiss exporters. For example, companies that manufacture medical technology or measuring instruments would have to have their products checked not only in Switzerland but also in the EU, creating additional costs and thus making the product more expensive.

The NZZ am Sonntag said Swiss diplomats and EU sources had told the paper that Brussels had linked the adoption of the framework treaty to the argument about “foreign judges”. The article contained no official government statement.

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