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Isolationists seek more say on treaties

Any major international treaty, including accords with the European Union, could become subject to approval by voters in mandatory ballots.

A conservative pressure group, Campaign for an Independent and Neutral Switzerland (Cins), handed in the necessary signatures to the Federal Chancellery on Tuesday.

The group said the initiative was aimed at boosting democratic rights.

“Switzerland’s independence has to be strengthened because the government has been caving in to pressure and threats by other states and is not prepared to defend the interest of the country,” Cins President Pirmin Schwander told a news conference.

Currently only membership of international organisations are put to mandatory nationwide votes.

Other accords can only be challenged through a referendum with at least 50,000 signatures.

Cins, which has close links with the rightwing Swiss People’s Party, is opposed to Swiss membership in the EU and has been trying to block a series of bilateral treaties with the 27-nation bloc over the past two decades.

However, the New European Movement Switzerland dismissed Tuesday’s initiative as act of desperation.

It said voters had approved closer relations with the EU in seven separate votes over the past nine years.

The pro-European group also said the initiative would give small cantons too much power in foreign policy issues.

Urs Geiser,

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SWI - a branch of Swiss Broadcasting Corporation SRG SSR

SWI - a branch of Swiss Broadcasting Corporation SRG SSR