Citizens to settle territorial Jura conflict

Voters are likely to decide the future of a region which has been the focus of a long-standing territorial and political dispute in northwestern Switzerland.

This content was published on May 4, 2009 minutes

A special advisory assembly on Monday handed over its final report to the justice ministry, recommending two options without giving a preference.

The Inter-Jura Assembly, which was formed 15 years ago, said it was up to voters in the cantons of Bern and Jura to choose between the enlargement of Jura or granting more autonomy to the region within canton Bern.

A new report is expected in 18 months following a hearing of the authorities involved.

Justice Minister Eveline Widmer-Schlumpf said a solution must serve the interest of the people in the area and called for respect, tolerance and patience.

The region with a population of about 55,000 residents is presently part of Bern but has remained a bone of contention after the creation of Canton Jura in 1979 - seen as a model for conflict resolution in modern-day Switzerland.

At the heart of the strife are underlying linguistic and religious differences, as well as economic and political problems.

Bern is predominantly German-speaking and Protestant, while Jura – bordering France - is French-speaking and Catholic.

swissinfo with agencies

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