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Switzerland to boost its international presence and aid

Swiss foreign policy

Switzerland intends to be much more active in the international arena over the next decade, and will press ahead with plans to become a member of the European Union and United Nations, the government said on Thursday.

Membership of the EU remains one of the top priorities, the government said in a report outlining the country’s foreign policy agenda over the next 10 years.

A decision on when to begin entry negotiations will be taken at the latest during the next legislative period, which starts in 2004.

The other main priority remains UN membership. A referendum on the issue is to be held on the issue in 2002.

The report was unveiled by the president, Adolf Ogi, and the foreign minister, Joseph Deiss, after a cabinet meeting in Lugano. Cabinet meetings are normally held in the capital, Bern, but it was held in Ticino as a prelude to the Spring parliamentary session which will be held in the same canton.

Peace efforts, humanitarian aid, moves to combat poverty, environmental protection and strengthening Switzerland’s economic position will be the cornerstones of foreign policy.

Among the other priorities outlined in the report:

* Efforts to promote peace will be centred on eastern and south-eastern Europe, as well as the Mediterranean region.
* The level of development aid should be raised to 0.4 per cent of Gross Domestic Product – a rise of half a per cent.
* Foreign policy should aim to help ensure the success of Swiss business abroad.

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SWI - a branch of Swiss Broadcasting Corporation SRG SSR

SWI - a branch of Swiss Broadcasting Corporation SRG SSR