Foreign Minister Micheline Calmy-Rey has spoken for the first time since the fall of Moammar Gaddafi about the recent diplomatic stand-off with Libya.
In an interview with two Swiss Sunday newspapers, Calmy-Rey said she bore “no particular hatred” towards Gaddafi. He and his regime were criminal, she added, and belonged in court.
The “Libya affair” began in July 2008 when Hannibal Gaddafi – one of Moammar’s sons – was briefly arrested and charged with abusing his household staff while staying in a Geneva luxury hotel.
Outraged by the arrest of his son and daughter-and-law, Moammar Gaddafi initiated several retaliatory political and economic measures. In addition to threatening to cut oil supplies to Switzerland, Libya forced Swiss businesses to close their offices there and cut the number of Swiss flights to Tripoli at the end of 2008.
But even more controversial, the Libyan authorities arrested two Swiss businessmen, Rachid Hamdani and Max Göldi.
In August 2009, the then Swiss president Hans-Rudolf Merz flew to Tripoli without telling any of his cabinet colleagues and apologised for the arrest of Hannibal Gaddafi. But Merz returned to Switzerland without the two Swiss hostages and into a torrent of criticism and ridicule.
Hamdani had his jail sentence overturned in January 2010, but Göldi wasn’t released from prison until June 2010 after nearly two years of detainment – including four months of imprisonment.
Calmy-Rey had also visited Libya in May 2009. “The Libyans always kept the Swiss delegation waiting for a long time,” she said on Sunday. “That was their way of showing they were dictating the game, although they knew they had already lost. They felt humiliated and enjoyed hassling us all day.”
But she said ultimately Switzerland won. “There are things that people can’t do with me and my country. Mr Gaddafi thought he could be a match for Switzerland and the European Union. He was seriously mistaken.”