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Fighting poverty is key element of Swiss development policy

Foreign Minister Joseph Deiss said Thursday that the key focus of Switzerland’s development policy abroad was to alleviate poverty in order to prevent major international migration movements in the future.

This content was published on September 2, 1999 - 17:28

Foreign Minister Joseph Deiss said Thursday that the key focus of Switzerland’s development policy abroad was to alleviate poverty in order to prevent major international migration movements in the future.

Deiss said Switzerland should step up international cooperation – particularly with the European Union – in order to help develop a successful long-term development policy.

Deiss made the statements in an address to a conference organised by the Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation (SDC) in Berne.

The annual congress was attended by hundreds of delegates from development organisations, various government departments and the academic field. This year’s theme of the congress was, “Poverty and Migration: What kind of development policy?”

Deiss conceded that even internationally coordinated development efforts would not totally stop the migration of people seeking to better their lives in Europe or other industrialised regions.

But he said it was important to realise that fighting poverty was a development policy that went right to the heart of the migration problem.

Switzerland should therefore step up its efforts and better coordinate its strategies with those of the 15-nation EU and the United Nations.

Switzerland is not a member of either organisation.

David Syz, the head of the State Secretariat in the Economics Ministry, told the conference that many Swiss only saw migration under the aspect of higher social costs and increased competition in the labour market.

Syz said migration and immigration policies would have to be better coordinated and he pleaded for better integration of foreign workers.

It was important for companies in Switzerland to be able to hire the kind of qualified workers who cannot be found in the domestic market, he added.

The information technology sector in Switzerland, for instance, is short of thousands of qualified workers.

From staff and wire reports.

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