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A Swiss bridge between "Helvetistan" and the world's financial institutions

Bukhara, in Uzbekistan, one of the members of the Helvetistan group at the IMF.

(Keystone / AP Photo / Burhan Ozbilici)

Switzerland plays the role of a bridge between the world's financial institutions and the states of Central Asia, according to the finance minister, Kaspar Villiger.

The Swiss chair a group of five Central Asian nations within the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank. The group, made up of Azerbaijan, Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan, Tajikistan and Kirgystan, is known as "Helvetistan", after "Helvetia", the Latin name for Switzerland.

The group also includes Poland, which is further along the road to political and economic transition than former Soviet Central Asia.

Villiger, who begins a tour of Central Asia on Sunday, told the French-language newspaper "Le Temps" that the mixed character of the Helvetistan group was an advantage. He said that it made Switzerland more aware of the problems encountered by poor countries with a debt burden.

The minister also said that Switzerland played the role of consultant on issues such as the fight against corruption, and increasing transparency. The country tried to provide a model for its partners in the Helvetistan group, he said.

swissinfo with agencies

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