The Swiss foreign minister, Joseph Deiss, says the time is now right for Switzerland to become a member of the United Nations. Deiss also says that UN membership would "complete" rather than undermine Swiss neutrality.
Addressing the Swiss foreign political association, Deiss argued that joining the world body would not jeopardise Swiss sovereignty, nor its independence. He said the reasons for Switzerland's non-membership were no longer valid, and the time was ripe for the country to join the UN.
His comments come against a background of increased pressure for Swiss membership of the world body. A popular initiative was handed in to the government on March 6.
The foreign minister explained that over the years, Switzerland has become an important source of human and financial assistance to the UN. "Each year, Switzerland already contributes between SFr400 and 500 million to specialised UN agencies with which it co-operates," Deiss said.
Joining the UN should therefore pose no real financial burden, he argued. "The additional cost of accession, would be between SFr50 and 60 million francs each year."
swissinfo with agencies