Eritrea Federal Council to strengthen diplomatic presence in Eritrea
The Council of States does not want to commission the Federal Council to immediately open a message in Eritrea's capital Asmara. He simply demands that Switzerland strengthen its diplomatic presence in Eritrea.
Posted on 04.12.2017 | Updated at 18:32
Foreign Minister Ignazio Cassis explains in the Council of States why, from the point of view of the Federal Council, the opening of a Swiss embassy in Eritrea would not solve the problems with the country. KEYSTONE / PETER KLAUNZER
The Council of States
approved on Monday a correspondingly modified motion from the National Council
by 27 to 16 votes. The amendment proposed the preliminary advisory commission. It wants to leave the concrete procedure to theFederal Council
and thus ensure that the Eritrea strategy remains coherent, as speaker Christian Levrat
(SP / FR) explained.
Today, the ambassador based
in Khartoum, southern Sudan, is responsible forEritrea
. Opening a message in Asmara
immediately and without conditions does not make sense, Levrat said. Moreover, this step would not lead to a decrease in migration pressure.
(SP / ZH) called the demand of the National Council as Actionism.The problem is not that Switzerland has no ambassador in Eritrea. The problem is the local injustice regime. Damian Müller
(FDP / LU) spoke with a view to the National Council version of "Symbolpolitik". He rejects this principle, he said.
For the immediate opening of a message pleaded Thomas Minder
(no party / SH), Hannes Germann (SVP / SH) and Philipp Müller (FDP / AG). It was Parliament's
jobto put pressure on them, they argued. The Federal Council had come with its Eritrea policy in a dead end, said Müller. He pleaded for more appreciation of the country.
"How are we going to move one step further in Eritrea if we are not even there all the time?" Asked Minder. The opening of a message is the central instrument for the enforcement of Swiss interests. The reinforcement of the diplomatic presence is not enough. The goal must be that Eritreans never left their country. To achieve this at some point, it needs a message.
Minder called on Foreign Minister Ignazio Cassis
not to repeat the "mistakes" of his predecessor Didier Burkhalter
. He never traveled to Eritrea. He has always provided conditions and demanded that the ICRC be given
access to the prisons in Eritrea. But Switzerland must take the first step. "Here you have to press the start button and not the reset button."
Foreign Minister Ignazio Cassis disappointed the hopes of Minders. Like his predecessor Burkhalter, he emphasized that Switzerland can not cooperate with the regime in Eritrea, because this is not interested - not even in a message.
He did not want to exclude that he would visit Eritrea, said Cassis. He has no fear of contact and will clarify that. But Burkhalter probably had reasons for his actions.Many countries have tried unsuccessfully to build better relations with Eritrea.
Eritrea was in agreement with a dialogue. This run, the exchange is intense. In addition, Switzerland and the German Embassy have clarified the possibility of hiring a job there for employees of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the State Secretariat for Migration. He did not see what would further increase the demand for opening a message, Cassis noted.
The modified motion now goes once again to the National Council. Unopposed, the Council of States has approved a new initiative concerning Eritrea: The Federal Council should support the UN
in improving the political situation in the country.This was the agreement of the Federal Council and the Council of States. "Who could be against it?" Levrat asked.
Motionary Manuel Tornare (SP / GE) had criticized in the National Council the representation of a group of Swiss parliamentarians, who traveled to Eritrea and concluded that the human rights situation on the ground was less dramatic than often claimed. When you visit a dictatorship, they only show you what they want to show. And Eritrea is a dictatorship, Tornare said.
Reports from a UN commission documented massive, systematic human rights violations in the African state. These included crimes such as the disappearance of people, imprisonment, rape, killings, slavery, torture, persecution, and other inhuman acts. The efforts made by the UN in Eritrea to improve the human rights situation are important. (SDA)
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