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Libya led to "exhausting" diplomatic year

Foreign Minister Micheline Calmy-Rey has admitted that Switzerland’s dispute with Libya has been her toughest diplomatic issue of the year.

Speaking on the Swiss German television news programme Rundschau on Wednesday night she said the detention of two Swiss businessmen there was not a political drama as Libya was not a strategic partner for Switzerland. “But it is a human drama: we think about these men every day.”

Overall the year had been “exhausting” on a political level, she said. “I am a little tired, we had to deal with many urgent matters. It was very difficult.”

The problems were coupled with diplomatic successes, namely Switzerland’s role in mediating an historic accord between Armenia and Turkey and the good offices provided to Georgia and Russia.

Other highlights were the start of the Swiss presidency of the Council of Europe and the formal nomination of ex-minister Joseph Deiss as western countries’ choice for chair of the 2010 United Nations General Assembly.

There was room for improvement in the foreign ministry’s communication efforts, Calmy-Rey acknowleged, while adding that theirs was not a collegial way of working.

The biggest challenge in the years ahead would be Swiss relations with Europe, she said, with Switzerland likely to suffer discrimination owing to its stand-alone policies. Bilateral relations also threw up some difficulties she said.

Switzerland needed an “active open policy” as “we cannot find all solutions within Switzerland, we must collaborate with others”.

swissinfo.ch and agencies


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