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Libya lays blame for continuing crisis on Swiss

Libya’s foreign minister says Switzerland is not taking “seriously” the crisis that has developed between the two countries.

Interviewed in the Fribourg newspaper La Liberté, Moussa Koussa accused his Swiss counterpart, Micheline Calmy-Rey, of refusing all solutions to end the row that continues to involve an imprisoned Swiss businessman and visa restrictions.

Koussa said in particular that Calmy-Rey did not want an international arbitration tribunal to look into the detention in July 2008 of Hannibal Gaddafi, a son of the Libyan leader, and his wife at a Geneva hotel.

The tribunal was included in an accord that was signed by the two countries last year but later suspended after a deadline for normalising relations expired.

In fact, in September 2009 Switzerland chose a British lawyer, Elizabeth Wilmshurst, to sit on the tribunal.

The dispute has been fuelled by Libya’s detention of two Swiss businessmen for violating visa regulations. While one of the men was released by Tripoli last month, the other, Max Göldi, is serving a four-month prison term.

Koussa implicitly ruled out a pardon for the Swiss, saying that Göldi – held in Libya for the past 600 days – would have to serve the four-month term before being freed.

Switzerland effectively blocked pan-European travel for top Libyans when it drew up a list of visa restrictions on them that applied also to member countries of the Schengen zone.

Koussa said the list was an “enormous error” for both Switzerland and Europe.

“We’re not making any comments on these public statements. We continue however to work constructively on a diplomatic solution,” Adrian Sollberger, spokesman for the foreign ministry, told swissinfo.ch.

“The aim is the return of Max Göldi, who has been detained in Libya for more than a year-and-a-half.”

swissinfo.ch and agencies


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