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Financial disagreement Gorbachev slams Swiss chapter for Green Cross woes

Gorbachev has renounced his title of founding president of the Green Cross

(Keystone)

Former Soviet President Mikhail Gorbachev has blamed Swiss “sabotage” for instability at the environmental Green Cross organisation, which he founded in 1993. Gorbachev’s outburst came as he resigned from the NGO’s board and renounced his title of Founding President.

In his resignation letterexternal link, the Nobel Peace Prize laureate blames internal bickering, led by the organisation’s Swiss chapter, for recent problems. Green Cross Internationalexternal link has declared itself in a state of “virtual insolvency” after several members, including Switzerland, failed to pay their membership fees.

Gorbachev stated that the problems started last year when he stepped down as Green Cross president in favour of Jean-Michel Cousteau, son of famous French ocean explorer Jacques Cousteau. Gorbachev goes on to state that tensions, primarily from the Swiss chapter, have escalated from “words to actions”.

“I cannot qualify what has followed other than as an attempt of aggressively hostile takeover of the GCI, its ‘strangling’ by way of unilateral repudiation from its chartered duties, ill-intended undermining of the GCI positions, direct sabotage of the decisions adopted by the Board and behind the stage intrigues designed to discredit the GCI,” his resignation letter states.

In a statementexternal link, Green Cross Switzerlandexternal link said that the problems have arisen from “discrepancies” between it and Green Cross International over the “financial situation” at the parent organisation. As a result, the Swiss group has withheld payment of its fees.

“Pursuant to the written agreement with Green Cross International our membership payments are earmarked for Green Cross projects and must not be used otherwise,” Martin Bäumle, president of the Board of Trustees of Green Cross Switzerland stated. “Regrettably, the figures of Green Cross International that we have available indicate liquidity problems and call for urgent measures to be undertaken for a financial reorganisation.”

Green Cross International is funded by payments from its regional bodies and other partners. Chapters in the United States, Italy and Poland, plus influential private Polish donors, have also withheld payments.

The Geneva-based Green Cross International was founded in 1993 by Gorbachev, one year after the Rio de Janeiro Earth Summit. The non-profit organisation campaigns for clean water supplies, the clean-up of pollution, renewable energy, arms control and the social and medical care of pollution victims.

According to the Swiss News Agency, Green Cross Switzerland has 51,700 members and received donations totaling CHF13 million last year. It is supported by the cross-party parliamentary group Green Cross.

swissinfo.ch/mga

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