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No to UN would be "incomprehensible", says Annan

The UN secretary general, Kofi Annan, was interviewed by Swiss television Keystone Archive

The United Nations secretary general, Kofi Annan, says the world would not understand if Switzerland's March 3 referendum on joining the UN proves negative.

This content was published on February 13, 2002 - 23:04

"I would be extremely disappointed if the Swiss people voted against joining the UN, because Switzerland has already contributed heavily to our efforts," he said from UN headquarters in New York in an interview with French-speaking Swiss television.

"The whole world is present in the UN. Can [Switzerland] really stay on the sidelines of the global community?", he questioned.

Switzerland and the Vatican are the only two states, which are not members of the international body.

Annan warned that a vote against joining the UN would leave the rest of the world confused politically, morally, economically and socially.

However, he said he didn't think a negative result would lead to the UN moving its UN European headquarters from Geneva.

Neutrality

In response to the question of neutrality, which underpins opposition to joining the UN, Annan said that even if Switzerland was a member it would not have to do anything that compromised its neutral stance.

"Each member state decides for itself, if and how it wants to participate in our peacekeeping operations," he said, adding that if a country decided to send soldiers on UN missions, it could say when it wanted these troops withdrawn from the area.

According to the latest opinion polls, published on February 10, 56 per cent of the Swiss electorate are in favour of joining the UN with 30 per cent against. The majority of cantons are also backing a "yes" vote.

swissinfo with agencies

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