Swiss are strongest critics of US foreign policy

Bush's foreign policy is rejected by most Swiss Keystone

The majority of Swiss are strongly opposed to United States' foreign policy, according to a new survey.

This content was published on September 12, 2002 - 09:44

The poll was published a day before President George W Bush addressed the United Nations General Assembly outlining his arguments for a strike against Iraq.

In Thursday's speech, Bush called on the UN to take "decisive" action against Iraq.

The US president detailed a list of 16 UN resolutions that Iraq had repeatedly violated, including requirements to destroy weapons of mass destruction and not develop new ones.

Bush challenged the world body to ensure its resolutions were enforced otherwise the organisation would become an "irrelevance".

And he urged the UN to act swiftly in drawing up a new Iraq resolution, or face the prospect of possible unilateral action by the United States.

"If the Iraqi regime defies us again, the world must move decisively and deliberately to hold Iraq to account," he said.

The Swiss president, Kaspar Villiger, praised Bush for "showing unambiguous support for cooperation with the UN Security Council in this crisis".

He said that the ball was now in Baghdad's court, that it must comply with UN resolutions.

Iraq must also now cooperate with UN weapons inspectors, the Swiss foreign minister, Joseph Deiss, added.

Bush toned down threats

Kurt Spillmann, a Swiss conflict resolution expert, said he believed Bush had tempered his tough line on Baghdad and was prepared to wait for a UN mandate before taking "unavoidable action".

"It was not a speech in favour of unilateralism but of multilateralism," Spillmann told swissinfo.

He said the key policy speech had revealed a more moderate Bush who was less likely to take military action without a UN mandate.

"I think that the radical school among his inner circle has been pushed back and the Powell school - those who want to go step by step and work with the UN - is in the foreground."

Spillmann noted that although Bush had presented a strong case against Iraq, he had offered no new evidence to justify any military action.

Swiss critics

A survey, carried out by the Gallup International research institute, suggests that compared with 33 other nations, the Swiss are the fiercest critics of Washington's foreign policy.

According to the poll, 60 per cent of the 500 Swiss questioned are opposed to a US-led strike against Iraq, whereas only 11 per cent are in favour.

According to the figures Ireland, Georgia, Poland, Romania, Israel, Columbia, Peru, Hong Kong, Nigeria and South American countries are all in favour of US foreign policy.

Israel, where 74 per cent expressed their support for the US, turned out to be Washington's strongest ally.

No attack

A second survey confirms Swiss opposition to a possible US-led attack on the Iraqi leader, Saddam Hussein.

The poll, carried out by Isopublic, Gallup's Swiss-based research institute, was commissioned by the German-language Blick newspaper.

It found that four out of five people are against military action against Iraq, if launched without a mandate from the United Nations.

However, nearly 60 per cent still consider such an attack would be wrong even if Washington had the approval of the UN. Women and teenagers are the strongest opponents.

The survey found that more than 45 per cent of Swiss are in favour of the US-led war against terrorism. More than half of the interviewees expressed fears about international terrorism.

World urges caution

In his opening address to the 57th General Assembly, UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan urged Bush not to go it alone and launch a pre-emptive strike on Iraq without the UN's backing.

However, Annan admitted time was running out for Saddam Hussein to readmit UN weapons inspectors.

"I urge Iraq to comply with its obligations - for the sake of its people, and for the sake of world order," he said.

"If Iraq's defiance continues, the Security Council must face its responsibilities."

Switzerland, which only became a full member of the UN on Tuesday, has already expressed its disapproval of unilateral military action against Iraq by the US.

"Such steps can only be taken with a UN mandate," the Swiss foreign minister, Joseph Deiss, said in an interview with the Blick newspaper.

However, Deiss emphasised that even if Washington had the UN's approval the situation would have to be monitored carefully.

swissinfo with agencies

Swiss against Iraq strike

Among 33 countries, Switzerland is the strongest opponent of US foreign policy.
82.5 per cent oppose an attack on Iraq without UN mandate.
58.6 per cent are against attacking Iraq with UN mandate.

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