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Balkans Stability Pact row ended

Switzerland has been granted full membership of the Balkans Stability Pact, ending a long campaign by the government to be admitted. Until now, Switzerland has only had observer status despite donating SFr27 million to the pact's fund of SFr3.8 billion.

The announcement was made by the foreign minister, Joseph Deiss, on Thursday.

The Balkans Stability Pact was set up in 1999 at the initiative of the European Union to oversee development aid projects in the Balkans. Its aims include the reconstruction of Kosovo, and the promotion of stability and human rights in the province, which was devastated by conflict last year.

The organisation already has 30 members, including the United States, and countries from the European Union and the Balkans.

The row between Switzerland and the Pact's members over Switzerland's exclusion, despite its substantial financial contribution, came to head in March this year. The secretary of state at the Swiss foreign ministry, Franz von Däniken, threatened the Pact with a reduction in contributions if membership was not approved.

However, informal talks between Switzerland and Pact members in the Greek city of Thessaloniki earlier this month, achieved a breakthrough. The Swiss delegation were told Switzerland could join in a matter of weeks if no objections were raised.

swissinfo with agencies


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