World Economic Forum founder Klaus Schwab will not be receiving honorary Swiss citizenship, despite the idea having being mooted earlier this year.
Such an honorary conferral of the passport has no basis in Swiss law, the Federal Justice Office announced on Tuesday, after it was contacted by the daily Südostschweiz newspaper.
The idea of honorary citizenship was reportedly raised by current Swiss President Ueli Maurer earlier this summer.
Maurer asked his government colleagues to consider Schwab, 81, for the honour as the World Economic Forum (WEF) prepares for its 50th edition next January in Davos. The idea was also initially discussed by officials at the regional and federal level after the 2019 WEF.
This came despite the fact that there is no tradition in Switzerland of granting national titles or awards. The idea was even questioned by the chairperson of Maurer’s political group, the right-wing People’s Party: “Mr Schwab’s services are undisputed, but the award of honorary Swiss citizenship to individuals is un-Swiss,” Albert Rösti told the SonntagsZeitungexternal link in August.
Schwab himself, who is German and a long-term resident of the commune of Cologny in Geneva – where WEF is headquartered – has consistently turned down the thought of applying for Swiss citizenship.
In an emailed statement, Schwab said that he has lived in Switzerland for more than 60 years and feels at home and rooted in the country. However, he indicated that he has never applied for Swiss citizenship and "always felt like a European with my national identity being secondary."
According to the WEF websiteexternal link, Schwab holds 17 honorary doctorates, as well as national medals of honour including the Grand Cordon of the Order of the Rising Sun of Japan, the Grand Cross with Star of the National Order of Germany and the Knight of the Légion d’Honneur of France. He was also knighted by Queen Elizabeth II.