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Blocher tones down opposition to bilateral accords

The head of Switzerland's anti-European lobby, Christoph Blocher, says he does not believe the bilateral accords with the European Union threaten Swiss sovereignty.

Addressing in Berne the movement for a neutral and independent Switzerland, of which he is president, Blocher urged members not to make an issue out of the bilaterals. He said they were simply about getting a better deal for Switzerland, and had nothing to do with Swiss neutrality or sovereignty.

Instead, he said members should concentrate their fire on the proposed reform of the Swiss army and Swiss membership of the EU.

However, Blocher added that the movement "has decided it would combat the accords if Switzerland was ever obliged to adhere to EU legislation, notably concerning the free movement of people and transport."

Blocher cited the EU's recent action against Austria as an example of the power the organisation wields. "The incredible procedures the 14 EU member states adopted concerning the little Austrian state, is evidence of the way the EU exercises its power," he said. "A democratically elected government was threatened, boycotted and cut off from the rest of the world under a moral pretext of little conviction."

Blocher announced that backing for the movement had increased by 11.5 per cent last year throughout the country. He underlined the jump in support in French-speaking Switzerland, a rise of nearly 15 per cent. At its meeting in Berne, Blocher also said that the movement's war chest of SFr3.7 million would go towards campaigning for more support.

swissinfo with agencies

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