Press welcomes long overdue Swiss UN membership

The press said it was high-time Switzerland ended its political isolation

Both the international and the Swiss press broadly welcomed Switzerland's accession to the United Nations on Tuesday.

This content was published on September 11, 2002 - 09:06

Most editorials said it was about time that the Alpine nation embraced the international community.

The Financial Times said accession marked a "turning point" in Switzerland's relations with the outside world.

Since the end of the Cold War and the collapse of communism, the world no longer needed a diplomatically isolated Switzerland to act as a political go-between, said the FT.

UN membership, along with closer ties to the European Union, proved that Switzerland had become far more integrated and open to the world than 20 years ago, the paper said.

The German newspaper, Frankfurter Allgemeine, said membership had put an end to the "overdrawn and almost embarrassing" case of Switzerland portraying itself as a "special case".

The Süddeutsche Zeitung, another German daily, similarly applauded the move, adding that the wealthy Alpine nation would be a welcome addition to the European Union - but Europeans faced a long wait, it said.


The German-language Swiss daily, the Neue Zürcher Zeitung, said UN membership would give Switzerland more scope in its international dealings.

More broadly, it signalled that Switzerland had finally found its political identity, following the changes that came with the end of the Cold War, the NZZ said.

"Finally, finally [...] we've arrived in the world," said a jubilant Berner Zeitung in its editorial written by the former cabinet minister and UN special envoy for sports and peace, Adolf Ogi.

With its 154 years of democracy and experience in dealing with minorities, Switzerland would have much to give to the UN - and much to gain.

Too shy

The German-language daily, the Tages Anzeiger, said Switzerland was at last gaining its rightful place within the UN, to which it has been an important financial contributor since 1945.

However, the paper said Switzerland must also step up its activities in the fields of human rights, peace initiatives and international aid to boost its standing within the UN and should not shrink from taking an active political role.

"Switzerland must make its voice heard loud and clear and forge alliances ... especially now that world peace is under severe threat," said the Tages Anzeiger.

Similarly, the French-speaking newspaper, Le Temps, said Switzerland should make its voice heard within the UN.

The nation would be forced to take a stance on numerous and often burning issues, making the concept of neutrality redundant, it said.


On a more critical note, the French-language paper, the Tribune de Genève, said that, ironically, Switzerland had joined the UN at a time when the organisation was being completely marginalised with the threat of a US strike on Iraq.

Both the UN - and Switzerland - would only regain their role if President Bush sought international consensus on military action, the paper said.


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