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Swiss thank Europe for solidarity in Libya row

Switzerland is grateful for European solidarity during its row with Libya, Foreign Minister Micheline Calmy-Rey said on Saturday.

Speaking before a group of 250 centre-left Social Democratic Party delegates, Calmy-Rey said there was strength in unity and that EU-sceptics should be convinced that Switzerland is strong at Europe’s side.

The foreign minister reiterated that her goal is to free jailed Swiss businessman Max Göldi as soon as possible. After being forbidden from leaving Libya for nearly 600 days, Göldi recently began serving a four-month prison term for visa violations.

International human rights groups say Göldi has become a political pawn in Switzerland’s ongoing row with Libya over the brief 2008 arrest in Geneva of leader Moammar Gaddafi’s youngest son, Hannibal. The row has escalated into a European issue with various visa restrictions hampering travel between most of Europe and Libya.

Calmy-Rey’s Social Democrat colleagues were gathering in the Swiss capital Bern to lay out their agenda for the upcoming parliament session. During her speech, the foreign minister also touched on the country’s financial centre woes, saying banks had traded industriousness and discretion for greed and secrecy.

“We are living in sort of shock,” Calmy-Rey said, adding that the fraudulent behaviour of irresponsible bankers had affected Switzerland’s self-image. “One could even speak of a national trauma.”

She said the government’s decision to cooperate with foreign investigators in cases of tax evasion – which is not a crime in Switzerland – was “right and necessary”. and agencies

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