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Minister wants more spent on foreign affairs

Foreign Minister Micheline Calmy-Rey says Switzerland must be prepared to spend more money if it wishes to continue acting as an autonomous state.

In an interview with the German-language NZZ am Sonntag she said that since Switzerland is not a member of the European Union it has to represent itself.

"It is up to us to increase our influence ourselves," she said.

"We want to make our contribution to burden sharing in the solution of international problems, whether through humanitarian aid, as currently in Sumatra, or development aid, or mediation," she explained.

Although some of Switzerland's diplomatic activities do not always bear immediate fruit, she justified them as beneficial in the long term.

Citing recent Swiss mediation between Turkey and Armenia, she pointed out that it would result in better access to both countries.

"[It also gives us access] to countries who are interested in a solution, in this case Russia and the US. ... We can use this when we have completely different problems to solve. That was shown in the UBS case in the US, where among other things we benefited from these contacts."

She said that Switzerland has many friends in the world, and that in order to ensure that this remains the case, the network of diplomatic missions needs to be expanded, particularly in Asia, where the country is under-represented.

The interview was published on the day Calmy-Rey was due to set off on a tour of five Central Asian states.

swissinfo.ch and agencies


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