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Archive for Switzerland

Newsline: Swiss embassy employee in Sri Lanka granted bail

A court in Sri Lanka has granted bail to a Swiss embassy staff member who had been arrested two weeks ago on charges that she stoked anti-government sentiment and fabricated evidence, local media reported. The local television channel Sirasa reported her release, according to the Associated Press. The employee, a Sri Lankan national, claimed that she had been abducted on November 25 and threatened by her captors in an alleged effort to get her to disclose “embassy-related information”. (https://www.swissinfo.ch/eng/diplomatic-spat—-_swiss-embassy-employee-in-sri-lanka-granted-bail/45463886) The incident took place a day after a senior Sri Lankan police officer arrived in Switzerland to apply for asylum. The Swiss government condemned the alleged attack as “unacceptable” and summoned the Sri Lankan ambassador. The Sri Lankan authorities have said they have evidence that contradicts the woman’s version of events. Prior to her arrest, a court blocked her from leaving the country. Upon her detention, Swiss diplomats appealed for her transfer to a hospital on health and humanitarian grounds. The Swiss foreign ministry also announced it would dispatch a Swiss diplomat, Jörg Frieden, to Colombo in a bid to break the diplomatic deadlock.

Newsline: Sri Lanka president says he is ‘victim’ of Swiss kidnap claim

Sri Lanka’s President Gotabaya Rajapaksa said Thursday the alleged kidnapping of a Swiss embassy staffer which triggered a diplomatic spat between Colombo and Bern had been concocted to discredit his election victory. (https://news.yahoo.com/sri-lanka-president-says-victim-swiss-kidnap-claim-130938877.html) A Sri Lankan national working for the Swiss mission in Colombo was arrested Monday for allegedly falsely claiming she had been abducted and sexually assaulted by unidentified attackers on November 25. The alleged abduction happened a day after a Sri Lankan police inspector investigating cases involving the Rajapaksa family sought asylum in Switzerland. Gotabaya Rajapaksa — who was elected president last month — told Colombo-based foreign correspondents Thursday that he was the real “victim” of the saga. “In this case, the victim is me because immediately after my election, this story came up,” he said, giving details of the Swiss embassy staffer’s movements on the day she claimed she was held against her will. “It is very clear it is a planned thing to discredit me and the government.” Rajapaksa said he did not believe the Swiss embassy itself had any role in making the allegations, and insisted he did not want anyone to create tensions between the two countries. Switzerland on Monday criticised the embassy worker’s arrest and “lack of due process in the case”, and asked for evidence that she had faked her claims. Swiss Foreign Minister Ignazio Cassis also spoke to his Sri Lankan counterpart Dinesh Gunawardena about the case on Wednesday, his ministry said. Cassis informed Gunawardena that Bern had sent an experienced diplomat, Jorg Frieden, to oversee the efforts to clarify the facts and resolve the situation, the foreign ministry said in a statement.

Newsline: Swiss raise alarm over ‘attack’ on Sri Lanka embassy employee

Swiss authorities have hit out at the detention of an employee of the country’s embassy in Sri Lanka, branding the development “grave and unacceptable”. A spokesman for Switzerland’s Department of Foreign Affairs said in a statement on Wednesday that the embassy employee was “detained against her will on the street and threatened at length” in an attempt to pressure her into releasing information. “Switzerland views the incident as a very grave and unacceptable attack on one of its diplomatic missions and their employees,” the spokesman said. (https://www.aljazeera.com/news/2019/11/swiss-raise-alarm-attack-sri-lanka-embassy-employee-191128061621424.html) Switzerland reported the incident to Sri Lankan authorities, the spokesman added, and have called on them to launch an investigation into it. Sri Lanka’s ambassador to Switzerland was meanwhile, summoned to the Department of Foreign Affairs.

Newsline: In unusual move, Japan names Yomiuri Chairman ambassador to Switzerland

The government on Friday named Kojiro Shiraishi, chairman of the conservative media conglomerate Yomiuri Shimbun group, as its new ambassador to Switzerland. The appointment of Shiraishi, 72, is a rare case of a media figure becoming a top envoy. He fills the vacancy left by the resignation in April of Etsuro Honda, one of the key architects of Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s economic policies, known as Abenomics. (https://www.japantimes.co.jp/news/2019/08/30/national/japan-names-yomiuri-chairman-kojiro-shiraishi-ambassador-switzerland/#.XWlZYY1RU8o) Shiraishi, a former political reporter, rose through the newspaper’s ranks to become group president in June 2011. He also served as owner of the Yomiuri Giants baseball team before becoming group chairman in June 2016. As head of the Japan Newspaper Publishers and Editors Association, he sat on the government panel that helped choose Japan’s new era name, Reiwa. Japan on Friday also named ambassadors to Bangladesh, Belarus, Denmark, Kyrgyzstan, Micronesia, Zambia and its mission to the Association of Southeast Asian Nations.

Newsline: Iran Summons Swiss, UAE Envoys Over U.S. Drone Incident

Iran has summoned the United Arab Emirates’ top envoy to Tehran to protest the neighboring Arab nation’s allowing the U.S. to use a base there to launch a drone that Iran says entered its airspace. The June 22 report by the official IRNA news agency said Iran issued a “strong protest” to the UAE diplomat, saying Iran does not tolerate the facilitation of foreign forces that violate its territory. The U.S. says its RQ-4A Global Hawk was shot down on June 20 over international waters, not inside Iranian airspace. (https://time.com/5612728/iran-uae-envoy-drone-incident/) On June 21, Iran summoned Swiss Ambassador Markus Leitner to hear Iran’s protest over the alleged violation. Switzerland looks after U.S. interests in Iran. Tehran and Washington have had no diplomatic relations since 1979. Iran says the U.S. drone was a “very dangerous provocation.”

Newsline: Embassy of Switzerland in London seeks mediator who can use art for peace

Swiss peacekeeping is extending to the art world with a new post offered by the embassy of Switzerland in the UK focusing on the role of art and artistic practice in mediation processes. The occupation of research analyst: art/artistic practice in peace mediation is a full-time post beginning in September (the deadline is 30 June). Candidates must have graduated in either peace, mediation and conflict research or in art and/or anthropology. The salary remains confidential. Asked why the post is advertised now in these turbulent political times, a spokeswoman for the embassy says: “Mediation is one of the core tasks of the Swiss Federal Department of Foreign Affairs, and contributes towards the fulfilment of the Swiss constitutional provisions on the promotion of democracy and peace in the world.” (https://www.theartnewspaper.com/news/arty-swiss-diplomacy-embassy-of-switzerland-in-london-seeks-mediator-who-can-use-art-for-peace) The successful candidate will be required to organise an international symposium on the topic due to take place 2021 in collaboration with the Human Security Division of the Federal Department of Foreign Affairs in Berne.

Newsline: Venezuelan opposition sets up rival embassy in Geneva restaurant

Venezuela’s political crisis is also having repercussions in Switzerland, where two rival embassies – in Bern and Geneva – claim to represent the official voice of the troubled South American country. The Venezuelan embassy in Bern is the longstanding official diplomatic mission of the Caracas authorities, under the control of President Nicolás Maduro. However, a small Venezuelan restaurant in Geneva, the main meeting point of Maduro’s opponents in Switzerland, has effectively become a rival embassy, under the authority of the self-proclaimed interim President Juan Guaidó. In Switzerland, two ambassadors each claim to be the legitimate diplomatic representative of Venezuela. Guaidó appointed Maria-Alejandra Aristeguieta, a former United Nations diplomat and anti-Maduro activist, to represent him in Switzerland. (https://www.swissinfo.ch/eng/diplomatic-tussle_venezuelan-opposition-sets-up-rival-embassy-in-geneva-restaurant/45011138) She has been working on her own out of the Geneva restaurant to establish as many contacts as possible with the authorities and powers in Switzerland. Experienced ambassador César Osvelio Méndez González works in Bern. His message is simple: President Maduro’s power is strong, as is the Venezuelan embassy in Switzerland.