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Swiss prefer independent path, Geo reports

Fewer Swiss want to join international organizations.


Despite having recently voted to join the United Nations, the Swiss want to steer clear of international organisations, according to a study.

The study, published by the German magazine "Geo" in an edition devoted to Switzerland, shows that 56 per cent of Swiss want their country to remain a "Sonderfall", or "exception".

The United Nations apart, figures show that their motivation to join other international organisations, such as Nato or the European Union, has declined over recent years.

According to the Geo report, 37 per cent of Swiss now wish to join the EU. A similar study carried out in 1996 showed that 57 per cent were in favour of EU membership. The same is true for Nato, with enthusiasm down by half, at 17 per cent.

Although more people were in favour of joining the United Nations in 1996 (61 per cent), the Geo poll, carried out in February 2002, showed that 55 per cent supported membership - a result that was confirmed during the vote on March 3.

Switzerland's acceptance of foreigners has also declined - by 14 per cent since 1996 - to stand at 21 per cent.

Shawne Fielding remains popular

Shawne Fielding, the Texan wife of Switzerland's newly recalled ambassador to Berlin, Thomas Borer, remains popular among the Swiss. Thirty-nine per cent deemed her "a good ambassador" for Switzerland. However, 15 per cent consider she is "rather an embarrassment". Borer has been recalled to Bern, effective at the end of April, by Foreign Minister Joseph Deiss.

The study was carried out before reports alleging an affair between the ambassador and a beautician surfaced in the Swiss press. Borer has repeatedly denied the allegations.

Still in Germany

The survey showed that only one in ten Germans think the series of catastrophes which struck Switzerland last year have dented the country's image abroad. These included the collapse of Switzerland's national carrier, Swissair; the murder of 14 people by a gunman during an assembly of canton Zug's parliament; and the deaths of 11 people in a traffic accident in the Gotthard Tunnel.

Despite these events, 69 per cent of Germans said they looked favourably on Switzerland. A similar proportion of Swiss believe Switzerland is seen positively by Germany.

Geo's survey is based on a poll carried out by the Swiss Marketing Association, involving 1,100 Swiss aged 15 to 74. The Berlin-based Forsa institute questioned 1,007 people to soliciting German opinion of Switzerland.

swissinfo with agencies

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