Switzerland urged to play active foreign role

Switzerland must take an active part in international decision making, UN General Assembly chairman and former Foreign Minister Joseph Deiss has told parliament.

This content was published on December 15, 2010 - 09:52 and agencies

In a speech to the assembled members of the two chambers on Wednesday he called on Switzerland not merely to play the role of observer, but to express its opinions on the many challenges faced by the world today.

No country can solve these problems by itself, he said.

Speaking of the “impressive reputation” Switzerland enjoys in the world and in the United Nations building, Deiss said it was clear to him after nearly 100 days in his UN post that this was based not on its wealth or economic power, but rather on its “moral authority”.

Switzerland has always been in the vanguard of rights and freedoms, he said.

It would therefore be “intolerable if we were to undermine this, out of selfishness or – worse still – electoral opportunism” he said, in an apparent allusion to last year’s popular vote banning the construction of minarets and November’s vote on the automatic expulsion of foreign criminals.

Speaking to the media after his speech, Deiss indicated that he would back a Swiss bid to join the Security Council. "Switzerland could formally join and it would pose no problems for Swiss neutrality," he said.

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