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Switzerland’s attractiveness, foreign policy top agenda 2000

The Swiss government on Monday outlined its priorities for 2000, saying it would work toward stronger representation of Swiss interests abroad and making the country a more attractive place to live, work and invest.

This content was published on December 13, 1999 - 16:58

The Swiss government on Monday outlined its priorities for 2000, saying it would work toward stronger representation of Swiss interests abroad and making the country a more attractive place to live, work and invest.

“The recession has been overcome, unemployment is on the decline and economic prospects are good,” said the government.

It added that the authorities were now trying to build on this solid foundation by focussing on a number of priorities.

Foreign policy:

- Work toward Swiss membership of the United Nations.
- Implementation of comprehensive bilateral accords with the European Union.
- Continue to support international stability pact for Balkan region.
- Improve Swiss image abroad (first target region: United States).
- Define Swiss priorities for WTO trade liberalisation talks.
- Improve access for Swiss goods abroad.

Domestic policy:

- Redefine tax burden for families.
- Complete reforms aimed at streamlining administration.
- Define the main thrust of reforms of the old age pension programme.
- Health care reform (hospital costs).
- Reform of work permit and residency regulations for foreigners.

Presenting the priorities to parliament, President and Interior Minister Ruth Dreifuss said the government would like to show the world that Switzerland is willing to open up and embrace new ideas and institutions.

U.N. membership – which the Swiss have so far firmly rejected -- would show the world that Switzerland wants to be seen as a reliable partner, Dreifuss said.

She added that the government would also like to see the setting up of a voluntary team of civilian experts to support peace operations by the U.N. and the Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe.

From staff and wire reports.

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