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Switzerland offers conditional Balkans aid

Switzerland says it will contribute 200 million francs worth of aid this year for the Balkans. However, Switzerland said further aid is conditional on being made a full member of the Pact.

Switzerland says it will contribute 200 million francs worth of aid this year for the Balkans. Swiss foreign ministry officials made the pledge at a donors’ Stability Pact conference in Brussels. However, Switzerland said further aid is conditional on being made a full member of the Pact.

The state secretary in the foreign ministry, Franz von Däniken, said Switzerland would find it difficult to continue to finance aid projects without having a say in the decision-making process. Von Däniken said he hoped Switzerland would be offered membership at the next meeting of Pact countries, scheduled to take place in Greece in May.

Nearly 30 million francs of the 200 million Switzerland has pledged for 2000 is earmarked for “quick-start programmes”, said von Däniken. Most Swiss aid will go to infrastructure projects. He added that it was a large sum considering that only 250 million francs in aid would go to the entire African continent this year.

Organisers of the two-day conference are hoping the countries and international organisations taking part will pledge about 3 billion francs. The recipients are Albania, Bosnia-Herzegovina, Bulgaria, Croatia, Macedonia and Romania. In Yugoslavia, Kosovo and Montenegro will receive aid but not Serbia.

swissinfo with agencies





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