It's a busy time for the justice ministry, according to the Sunday papers, which reported that two different countries have requested Swiss judicial assistance. Switzerland is also returning more unauthorised asylum seekers to their home countries. Meanwhile, the German finance minister had some positive things to say about EU-Swiss relations.
Germany and Turkey seek Swiss legal assistance
According to the SonntagsZeitung, Turkey has demanded help from Switzerland to pursue critics of its president, Recep Tayyip Erdogan. About “a half-dozen requests for legal assistance linked to contempt of the Turkish president” have been received, confirmed a justice ministry spokesperson to the German-language paper. Turkey wants Switzerland to interview the offenders and collect evidence on the insulting comments, which were mainly made on Swiss social media. Switzerland is now considering whether to grant assistance, which would require that the comments be legally punishable in both countries. A refusal of assistance is possible if the request is politically motivated.
Meanwhile, Swiss news agency ATS received confirmation from the justice ministry of a report by the NZZ am Sonntag that Germany has also turned to Switzerland for legal assistance. The request concerns an investigation into the Berlin Christmas market attack on December 19 by 24-year-old Tunisian Anis Amri. The Swiss Attorney General’s Office must now consider whether to grant the request. Amri drove a hijacked Polish truck into the market, and was later killed in a shootout with police in Milan. The Swiss Federal Office of Police (Fedpol) has since determined that the gun he used was legally imported into Switzerland in the 1990s.
More 'forced returns'
The Zentralschweiz am Sonntag and Ostschweiz am Sonntag newspapers, citing the State Secretariat for Migration (SEM), reported that Switzerland returned 341 asylum seekers who lacked a residence permit to their home countries on 67 special flights in 2016. This amounts to 113 more people and 22 more flights than in 2015. In 2010, 27 flights were organised for 136 people. A SEM spokesperson explained that, “the growing participation of the Swiss government in collective flights organised by the European Union explains this increase”.
A 'wise political solution'
In an interview with the Schweiz am Sonntag, German finance minister Wolfgang Schäuble declared that Switzerland had found a “wise political solution” to the problem of balancing a referendum in favour of limiting mass immigration with its bilateral accords with the EU. “The British should take an example from how cleverly Switzerland combined national sovereignty and close cooperation with the European Union,” he told the German-language paper.
When asked about the sometimes rocky relationship between Switzerland and Germany over banking secrecy, Schäuble replied: “That's done…globalisation presents us all with big challenges.” He said he understood that, “the Swiss government couldn’t just perform a simple exit from banking secrecy, but had to proceed in such a way that the people understood the need for it.”
swissinfo.ch and agencies/cl