Calmy-Rey defends Swiss interests in Brussels

Foreign Minister Micheline Calmy-Rey has become the first Swiss cabinet minister to take part in a committee hearing at the European Parliament in Brussels.

This content was published on October 11, 2011 minutes and agencies

Issues discussed included dictators’ assets, bilateral relations and the tax agreement between Switzerland and Germany.

Calmy-Rey explained that with the withholding tax Switzerland was following a “clean money” strategy, adding that Switzerland was open to negotiating further treaties. Greece had shown interest, she said.

In response to EU accusations that many rich Greeks stashed their money in Swiss banks to avoid paying tax, Calmy-Rey said Switzerland had no interest in holding money from people trying to get round the taxman.

She rejected reports that €200 billion (SFr248 billion) had flowed from Greece to Switzerland. “People overestimate what is kept in Swiss banks and vaults,” she said.

Calmy-Rey also pointed to Switzerland’s “pioneering” role in unblocking assets of deposed governments, which the EU parliamentarians acknowledged.

As for Swiss-EU relations, she said exploratory talks on institutional issues had taken place and all dossiers were on the table. This had simplified relations, she said, “but  negotiations have not been simple”.

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