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Cablegate: Bilateral Relationships with Switzerland and The

R 021439Z DEC 08
FM AMEMBASSY BERN
TO SECSTATE WASHDC 5485
INFO EUROPEAN POLITICAL COLLECTIVE

2008-12-02 14:39:00 08BERN612 Embassy Bern CONFIDENTIAL R 021439Z DEC 08\
FM AMEMBASSY BERN\
TO SECSTATE WASHDC 5485\
INFO EUROPEAN POLITICAL COLLECTIVE\
C O N F I D E N T I A L BERN 000612 \
\
\
EUR/FO FOR A/S FRIED, DAS GARBER, EUR/CE, CA FO, EUR/PPD, \
EUR/EX \
\
E.O. 12958: DECL: 12/05/2028 \
TAGS: PREL ECON ETRD PHUM EFIN SZ
SUBJECT: BILATERAL RELATIONSHIPS WITH SWITZERLAND AND THE \
PRINCIPALITY OF LIECHTENSTEIN \
\
Classified By: AMB. P. CONEWAY FOR REASON 1.4 (b) and (d) \
\
(U) As I approach the end of my two and one-half year tenure \
in Bern, I would like to share a few thoughts regarding our \
relationship with Switzerland and Liechtenstein. I hope that \
these observations will be helpful to my successor and others \
concerned to better understand the opportunities and \
challenges we face in dealing with these very successful, but \
frequently frustrating alpine democracies. \
\
(U) Special thanks to our dedicated staff of career \
professionals at Embassy Bern and at the EUR/CE Switzerland \
desk in Washington for their contributions to this document \
and their important role in the bilateral relationship. \
\
------------------ \
Historical Context \
------------------ \
\
(U) The quintessential element of Switzerland's foreign \
policy is its centuries-old tradition of neutrality. In \
Liechtenstein's case, neutrality was adopted after World War \
I. This, alongside the country's unique system of direct \
democracy, is considered by the Swiss to be one of the two \
main factors in the country's remarkable historical success. \
During the last century, when the rest of Europe suffered \
horrific human and material losses in wars and revolutions, \
Switzerland remained an island of democratic stability. In a \
turbulent Europe, the Swiss were at peace. No Swiss \
factories were bombed, the infrastructure was slowly \
perfected, and the country's banks (and even its real estate \
agents) thrived on its proven track record as a safe haven. \
Gradually over decades, such circumstances and traditional \
Swiss industriousness transformed a resource-poor alpine \
republic into one of the most prosperous societies on earth. \
\
(U) Even now, in the 21st century, with its growing global \
political, economic, and environmental challenges, neutrality \
remains the cornerstone of Swiss foreign policy, a view \
supported by all major Swiss political parties. Switzerland \
is neither a member of NATO nor the European Union, and the \
Swiss public does not aspire to join either, according to \
public opinion polls. In a 2001 referendum, the Swiss voted \
to reject full EU membership. Instead, the Swiss opted for a \
series of so-called 'bilateral treaties' with Brussels to \
increase Switzerland's economic integration with the EU (by \
liberalizing movements of capital, goods, and labor), but \
preserve the country's ultimate sovereignty. \
\
(C) In a 2002 referendum, 55% of the Swiss voted to join the \
United Nations. Proponents argued that UN membership would \
allow Switzerland to make its discrete views better heard on \
global issues. The decision was heavily opposed by the \
conservative nationalist Swiss People's Party (SVP) run by \
Christoph Blocher, which argued it would weaken the country. \
UN membership has forced Switzerland to take positions on a \
range of issues on which it could have previously remained \
silent. However, when faced with a particularly \
controversial issue, the Swiss often abstain, such as in the \
recent vote on whether to refer the question of Kosovo's \
independence to the ICJ. \
\
--------------------- \
U.S.- Swiss Relations \
--------------------- \
\
(C) U.S.-Swiss relations are correct and cordial, but they \
lack the natural intimacy and trust that stems from a shared \
struggle against Fascism or Communism, a common language, or \
linked history. U.S. and Swiss soldiers never fought \
side-by-side in a war, no Swiss town felt an emotional bond \
to the U.S. for a past liberation or economic assistance \
program, and no flood of Swiss political dissidents or \
economic migrants had to seek shelter on U.S. shores. \
\
(C) Despite paying lip service to the useful democratizing \
and stabilizing role the U.S. has played in modern Europe's \
history, the Swiss foreign policy establishment is at heart \
convinced that Switzerland's well-being and success is of its \
own making, and the country owes a debt to no one. As a \
result, the fabric of emotional and historical ties between \
Switzerland and the United States is thinner than with many \
other countries, and there is no store of historical goodwill \
or accumulated political capital upon which to draw. \
\
(C) This does not mean that the U.S. and Switzerland cannot \
cooperate effectively in many areas. However, the ways in \
which the Swiss choose to work with us (such as on global \
economic, environmental or humanitarian issues) are those \
where they believe our rational self-interest coincides and \
which do not require Switzerland to abandon its strict \
neutrality on international armed conflicts. \
\
(C) Internal debates over Swiss foreign policy tend to focus \
more on the 'style and body language' of its neutrality \
rather than its substance. Swiss Federal Councilor for \
Foreign Affairs Micheline Calmy-Rey is resented in some Swiss \
circles for her high-profile attempts to offer Switzerland as \
an intermediary in various disputes, which runs counter to \
Switzerland,s tradition of discrete, low-profile diplomacy. \
Thus, for example, Switzerland's recent 'offer' to represent \
Russia's interests in Tbilisi came almost as soon as the hot \
phase of the conflict ended. However, the Swiss Department \
of Foreign Affairs (EDA) strategists believe the move was an \
effective way to underline Switzerland's status as neutral \
and pose a counterpoint to its representation of U.S. \
interests in Tehran and Havana. (It also represents Iran's \
interests in Washington). \
\
(C) One of the most recent points of tension between the \
United States and Switzerland was the decision of the Swiss \
gas company EGL to enter into a long-term contract to buy \
natural gas from Tehran. Swiss Foreign Affairs Councilor \
Calmy-Rey has cited it as one of the achievements of her \
activist style of diplomacy, which has allowed Switzerland to \
win Iran's trust. While Switzerland has supported UN \
sanctions against states of proliferation, including Iran, in \
Iran's case, the Foreign Ministry has pursued its own "Swiss \
Plan," which has on several occasions sent the wrong message \
to Iran given the Swiss protecting power mandate for the U.S. \
(see Political Issues for important expanded history on the \
Iran Dossier). \
\
------------- \
Liechtenstein \
------------- \
\
(U) The United States enjoys excellent relations with the \
Principality of Liechtenstein and its hereditary ruling royal \
family. Despite having only 33,000 inhabitants, the \
Principality is an important banking center, providing \
'offshore' financial services to thousands of foreign \
clients. The numerous banks and holding companies located in \
the Principality manage more than $150 billion of client \
assets and generate roughly 30% of the country's GDP. Like \
Switzerland, Liechtenstein has adopted neutrality as its \
foreign policy strategy and often follows Bern's lead on \
international issues. In many countries, Liechtenstein \
relies on the Swiss Embassy to represent its interests. For \
these reasons, the U.S. Embassy in Bern devotes only a \
fraction of its time to managing bilateral relations with \
Liechtenstein. Our most substantive interactions have \
involved seeking ways to improve our cooperation in the fight \
against money laundering and terrorist financing and on how \
to prevent Liechtenstein's bank secrecy laws from being used \
by U.S. taxpayers to evade taxes. \
\
Terrorist Financing \
\
(U) Liechtenstein and the United States signed a mutual legal \
assistance treaty in 2002 focused on jointly combating money \
laundering and other illegal banking activities. Close \
relations with our Liechtenstein counterparts, such as \
Liechtenstein's Financial Intelligence Unit (FIU), have \
helped the embassy resolve issues before they become \
problematic. For example, in April 2007, Liechtenstein \
halted the transfer of Boeing MD-80 aircraft from Germany to \
Iran via Liechtenstein. Since September 11, Liechtenstein \
has also frozen approximately $150,000 in terrorist assets. \
Liechtenstein is a party to the UN Convention on Terrorist \
Financing and in March 2008, Liechtenstein hosted the working \
meeting of the Egmont Group ) the worldwide association of \
national Financial Intelligence Units. \
\
Tax Evasion \
\
(C) Like Switzerland, Liechtenstein draws a fine line between \
banking privacy and secrecy and exempts individuals for tax \
evasion, but not tax fraud, from criminal prosecution. These \
technical differences have hindered efforts to obtain banking \
information on U.S. citizens suspected of tax evasion. \
Liechtenstein's largest bank, LGT, which is operated by the \
royal family, is under scrutiny (and pressure from the U.S. \
Senate) for allegedly encouraging U.S. citizens to commit tax \
evasion and tax fraud. As a result, the U.S. and \
Liechtenstein are currently negotiating a Tax Information \
Exchange Agreement, which should provide more open access to \
information and additional avenues for legal cooperation \
where tax fraud is concerned. \
\
-------------- \
Private Sector \
-------------- \
\
(U) Leaders in the private sector (CEOs, CFOs, public affairs \
officers, etc.) and NGO arenas can wield considerable \
influence in political matters when they choose to get \
engaged. \
\
(U) Typically, they are less involved in Switzerland than our \
experience in the U.S., but it is a good investment for the \
COM, DCM, Pol/Econ, Public Affairs, and Commercial officers \
to develop relationships in these sectors. From programs and \
panels at the WEF, Swiss-American Chamber events, programs, \
and issues, and underwriting of exchange programs like the \
U.S.Fulbright-Swiss Scholarship Program, to general support \
of our Embassy and mission, the private sector and NGOs can \
positively influence our success. \
\
(U) The private sector can also enhance the public's positive \
perception of the U.S. and our policies. \
\
---------------- \
Political Issues \
---------------- \
\
(C) The decentralized nature of political power in \
Switzerland is unique in Europe. Far from having a unitary \
Executive, the Swiss government is led by a seven-member \
cabinet -- the Federal Council. The Swiss presidency is \
largely ceremonial and rotates annually between different \
members of the Federal Council. Even for those accustomed to \
dealing with the complex political geometries of European \
coalition governments, the Swiss form of decision making can \
be disorienting. With the exception of the rightist Swiss \
People's Party that opted for an opposition role last year, \
all the major political parties are represented on the \
Federal Council, spanning a broad spectrum from left to \
right. Each Federal Councilor (Minister) serves at his or \
her own pleasure and enjoys an ill-defined but generally high \
degree of autonomy. While key policy decisions are taken by \
the entire Council -- sometimes via vote -) its \
deliberations are strictly secret, and the Swiss have a \
long-standing tradition whereby Federal Councilors avoid \
publicly criticizing each other. The end result is a \
seemingly amorphous policy-making process in which decisions \
are implemented with considerable freedom of interpretation \
by senior representatives of political parties having often \
diverging interests. \
\
(C) An additional "x factor" in Swiss decision making is the \
ability of the Swiss people to initiate or to strike down \
legislation via an expansive and oft-used referendum \
mechanism. It only takes 50,000 certified Swiss signatures \
to force a public vote. The threat of a referendum is a fact \
of Swiss political life that no politician here can ignore, \
and something that Swiss officials frequently flag for us ) \
particularly when we ask them to do something difficult. \
\
(C) Dealing with these unique elements of the Swiss \
political system demands patience and flexibility but can pay \
important dividends. Given its international reputation for \
mediation and diplomatic competence, Switzerland,s influence \
on the international stage is significantly greater than one \
would otherwise assume for a country of its size. Standing \
outside of the EU and NATO, Switzerland sees its comparative \
advantage as working the seams via diverse and variable \
coalitions of convenience. With enough effort and \
coordination, the Swiss advantage in this respect can \
sometimes become our own, as was the case with the strong \
supportive roles the Swiss have played on Kosovar \
independence, on obtaining the release of American citizens \
wrongfully detained in Iran, on addressing interoperability \
concerns with the Oslo Accord on cluster-munitions, on the \
establishment of the Forum for the Future, and with the \
resolution of the Magen David Adom dispute. But getting \
successful outcomes requires strategic patience on our part \
and a willingness to take the time to cultivate relationships \
with each of the Federal Councilors, as well as with industry \
leaders. In doing so, I have come to appreciate that the \
extensive horse-trading endemic to the Swiss tradition of \
political compromise sometimes gives unlikely actors \
influence on issues of interest to us. \
\
(C) As noted above, the Swiss penchant for equidistance \
sometimes works to our advantage. However, on one key issue \
of the past two years ) the Iran nuclear problem ) \
Switzerland,s instinct "not to take sides" has harmed \
international efforts. While many Swiss clearly understand \
and take seriously the threat that Iran's dangerous nuclear \
program represents to our mutual interests, FM Calmy-Rey has \
apparently seen in this dispute an opportunity to raise her \
own profile. While we and the members of the P5 1 group, the \
EU, and other like-minded states have made considerable \
progress in increasing the pressure on Iran, Calmy-Rey's \
ministry has undercut these efforts at several turns by \
offering an alternative "Swiss Plan" for resolving the \
dispute. The Swiss Plan and Calmy-Rey's infamous trip to \
Tehran in March to secure a major new gas deal with Iran for \
Swiss firm EGL, have surely given Iran some reason to believe \
that it can continue to resist pressure to meet its \
international obligations. \
\
(C) Swiss behavior regarding Iran is of particular concern \
because Switzerland has been our Protecting Power in Iran \
since 1980, and since Switzerland was re-elected to the IAEA \
Board of Governors last fall. It has required much effort on \
our part to contain Swiss activism on Iran, culminating with \
a public endorsement in July of the P5 1 proposal by \
President Couchepin, along with assurances that Switzerland \
would no longer promote its own initiatives for resolving the \
Iran nuclear dispute. At the same time, the Swiss have taken \
increasingly firm and constructive stances regarding Iran at \
the IAEA, thanks in no small part, I believe, to our lobbying. \
\
(C) However, President Couchepin's recent declaration, which \
received broad press coverage (see July NZZ Sonntag article), \
"For several weeks the Swiss position in the Iran-Nuclear \
dispute is completely clear. There is no special initiative \
any more. We do not look for a special mediation/way. \
Instead we support the position of the P5 plus 1 countries, \
and we hope that Iran will give in," has effectively muzzled \
the Foreign Ministry's determination to pursue its own "Swiss \
Plan." \
\
(C) If and when this or the new administration wishes to \
explore a diplomatic dialogue on the Iranian nuclear \
proliferation issue, perhaps we could engage the Swiss at the \
outset to truly represent us, with the understanding at that \
point, that they would only deliver our message, and not \
something diluted by independent Swiss thinking. If and when \
such a dialogue is in our best interests, I believe the Swiss \
and their Foreign Ministry would jump at the chance to truly \
represent us without prejudice and with strict guidelines. \
This idea is worth exploring if an appropriate opportunity \
presents itself. \
\
(SBU) To reinforce our ability to identify and pursue goals \
of mutual interest, in 2006 we signed a MoU with the EDA \
initiating a so-called "Political Framework for Intensified \
Cooperation." Though such instruments are always at risk of \
becoming merely talk-shops, the EDA places high importance on \
the Framework, making it a potentially useful tool for us to \
define and achieve USG goals, including in such areas as \
promoting civil society in the Broader Middle East and North \
Africa, human rights, peace support operations in the Balkans \
and Africa, and counterterrorism. \
\
--------------- \
Economic Issues \
--------------- \
\
(U) Switzerland's highly advanced and diversified economy \
has so far proven comparatively resilient in the global \
financial crisis. The Swiss government estimates that GDP \
growth will fall from roughly 1.9% in 2008 to a maximum 1.0% \
in 2009. Switzerland,s GDP in 2007 totaled 512 billion CHF \
($450 billion), resulting in a per capita GDP of about \
$60,000, according to the IMF. Only three percent of Swiss \
wage-earners take home less that 3,000 CHF per month, and one \
out of five Swiss pensioners has a net worth of more than \
1,000,000 CHF. Unemployment is 2.3%. Switzerland is home to \
a disproportionate number of large European multinationals, \
and global companies such as Nestl, Novartis, Roche, Credit \
Suisse and UBS gave the Swiss Stock Exchange a market \
capitalization equal to roughly 2/3 that of Germany's. \
\
(U) U.S.-Swiss economic ties are robust and long-standing, \
and they contribute most positively to our political \
relationship with Switzerland. The economic sphere is an \
area where both sides perceive a clear win/win situation. \
Swiss firms have collectively invested over $140 billion in \
the United States and employ nearly 500,000 U.S. workers, \
ranking Switzerland seventh among all foreign investors in \
the U.S. On the other side, more than 600 U.S. enterprises \
have together invested more than $90 billion in Switzerland, \
providing jobs for 70,000 people (or about 2% of the nation's \
entire labor force.) Switzerland is a preferred location for \
the European headquarters of a number of top U.S. \
multinationals (Caterpillar, GM, Dow Chemical, DuPont, \
Colgate-Palmolive, etc.), while U.S. citizens head up some of \
Switzerland,s bluest of blue chip companies. These include \
Brady Dougan at Credit Suisse, Michael Mack at Syngenta, and \
James Schiro at Zurich Financial Services. The Swiss bank \
UBS actually has more employees in the United States (32,000) \
than it does in Switzerland (27,000). \
\
(U) Despite the lack of a free trade agreement, U.S. trade \
with Switzerland is largely free outside of agriculture, and \
Switzerland is a strong supporter of global services and \
manufacturing trade liberalization. In 2007, U.S. \
merchandise exports to Switzerland rose 18.5 percent to $17.0 \
billion (making the alpine country our 17th largest export \
market). At the same time, merchandise imports from \
Switzerland rose 3.7 percent to $14.8 billion. Key U.S. \
exports to Switzerland included precious stones and metals, \
pharmaceutical products, art and antiques, optical and \
medical instruments, and aircraft, while top U.S. imports \
from Switzerland included pharmaceutical products, clocks and \
watches, machinery, optical and medical instruments, and \
chemicals. Although most trade and business activity takes \
place entirely in the private sector, the Mission must still \
occasionally intervene with Swiss authorities to defend U.S. \
commercial interests. \
\
(U) In 2005, Switzerland's Federal Council decided to \
propose exploration of a free trade agreement with the United \
States. The attempt foundered on opposition from \
Switzerland,s highly-protected farm sector. Instead, the \
U.S. and Swiss governments agreed to establish a bilateral \
Trade and Investment Cooperation Forum to address small yet \
sensitive trade issues. Under its auspices, in October 2008 \
the two governments signed an 'E-Commerce Declaration,' which \
provides a framework for cooperation to improve trade \
conditions for these services. In addition, a 'Safe Harbor \
Agreement' to allow free flow and effective protection of \
personal data is in the final states of negotiations and is \
likely to be concluded before the end of 2008. \
\
(U) Also this year, the U.S. and Switzerland concluded an \
expanded Open Skies Agreement, and are exchanging \
discussion drafts on a 'Multilateral Convention on \
International Investment in Airlines.' The U.S., \
Switzerland, and several other countries are also engaged in \
negotiating the Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement, \
(ACTA), which held its last negotiating round in Tokyo in \
October 2008 and is intended to increase international \
cooperation and strengthen the framework of practices that \
contribute to effective IPR protection. \
\
(U) Another tool utilized by the Mission to promote trade is \
the U.S.-Swiss Joint Economic Commission (JEC). The JEC meets \
once a year to discuss and resolve bilateral \
misunderstandings. The JEC also holds a panel at the World \
Economic Forum at Davos, the premier international event of \
its kind, as documented in the World Economic Forum section \
below. \
\
(U) The JEC panel, which is organized by the Mission in \
cooperation with the Swiss Department of Foreign Affairs, the \
Swiss-American Chamber of Commerce, and EconomieSuisse, \
allows the mission to publicize USG messages to an \
influential global audience, such as supporting the Doha \
Round at the 2008 panel and addressing the impact on trade of \
the global financial crisis, the topic of the upcoming 2009 \
panel. \
\
\
-------------------- \
World Economic Forum \
-------------------- \
\
(U) The World Economic Forum (WEF) annual meeting in Davos, \
Switzerland, is unlike any other event of its kind. Over a \
five-day span at the end of January each year, 2,000 world \
leaders, Fortune 500 chief executive officers, international \
media moguls and nongovernmental organization (NGO) leaders \
gather in the small alpine village of Davos to participate on \
panels, in industry meetings and in "off the record" \
sessions. The WEF meetings in Davos have been a ripe target \
for public diplomacy efforts over the past 38 years, and the \
WEF's founder, Dr. Klaus Schwab, has preserved the original \
intent of the forum in maintaining its focus as a place for \
informal dialogue and debate on major social and economic \
problems. \
\
(U) Davos 2008 was an important milestone for the United \
States. During the final year of the Bush presidency, the \
administration dispatched five cabinet secretaries, three \
deputy secretaries, and numerous undersecretaries to Davos. \
Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, Secretary of Homeland \
Security Michael Chertoff, Secretary of Energy Samuel Bodman, \
Secretary of Education Margaret Spellings, U.S. Trade \
Representative Susan Schwab, and Deputy Secretary of the \
Treasury Robert Kimmitt, participated in five days of panels \
and discussions that covered topics ranging from Middle East \
peace, climate change, and educational reform to immigration, \
financial market stability, and trade liberalization. \
\
(U) Embassy Bern has worked closely with Klaus Schwab and his \
WEF team to include U.S. delegations that not only speak with \
strength and conviction on the global issues of our time, but \
are also internationally recognized experts on the pressing \
issues of the day. \
During the last three years, our Mission has helped shape six \
panels for Klaus and his team. The environment, challenges in \
the global financial arenas, energy security, global \
prosperity, and Muslim outreach are among the topics on which \
we have collaborated with Dr. Schwab. No other nation works \
so closely with the WEF on topics and participants, and no \
other nation has our record of success in organizing panels \
for key officials. \
\
(U) Engaging a skeptical world is not an easy task. Public \
diplomacy is vital if the United States is to correct skewed \
impressions. Communication and public diplomacy are major \
reasons for the success of the World Economic Forum's annual \
meeting in Davos. Klaus Schwab has made Davos media-friendly. \
One of his primary goals each year is to expand the media's \
reach. As a result, world leaders travel to the Swiss Alps to \
deliver addresses aimed at their constituents around the \
world. It has been an effective platform for the United \
States Government and private sector leaders to support and \
advance America's missions and values. \
\
-------------------------- \
Foreign Commercial Service \
-------------------------- \
\
(U) The U.S. Foreign Commercial Service (FCS) has the lead on \
providing promotional support and advocacy for U.S. exporters \
and on attracting Swiss business investment to the United \
States. Thus, it intervened with Swiss authorities in the \
telecom sector to obtain regulatory approvals and in the \
pharmaceutical sector to expand insurance reimbursements. In \
aerospace, FCS and Mission management facilitated export \
licenses leading to millions of dollars in U.S. exports. Over \
the past year, FCS developed programs with multiple U.S. \
universities to attract Swiss students to the U.S.A. In \
October 2008, it mounted a USDOC-certified U.S.A. Pavilion at \
WorldDidac (an educational fair in Basel). These activities \
took place at the same time as we were consolidating the \
operations of our FCS Zurich office into the new Embassy in \
Bern. \
\
(U) Our strong relationship with the Swiss-American Chamber \
of Commerce is a vital asset in our efforts to promote U.S. \
business. The 41-person board of directors of the Chamber is \
a Who,s Who of the Swiss business community led by Executive \
Director Martin Naville who is one of our biggest friends and \
assets in-country. Virtually every board member is a CEO or \
senior officer of a major corporation in his/her own right. \
There is probably no better high-level, pro-U.S. audience in \
Switzerland with which to promote investment in the U.S. In \
June 2008, I rolled out the Commerce Department's Invest in \
America Initiative in a speech to nearly 400 Swiss AmCham \
members and guests. In November 2008, the Chamber and FCS \
will co-host an Invest in U.S.A. Seminar with speakers from \
Commerce, Treasury, State, and Homeland Security. Finally, in \
June 2008 FCS consummated its "Transformational Commercial \
Diplomacy" initiative for Switzerland by integrating its \
Zurich office with the Embassy in Bern. \
\
---------- \
Management \
---------- \
\
(U) In June 2008, the Mission completed the sale of the \
government-owned chancery complex and moved to a \
newly-renovated, short-term lease property. It represents a \
substantial upgrade in embassy habitability, and the new \
building occupies a geographically central location in Bern \
that minimizes transportation movements in our daily \
business. The USG-owned Chief of Mission Residence (CMR) is \
located next to the new chancery. \
\
------------- \
Post Security \
------------- \
\
(C) The Mission's overall security posture significantly \
improved with the relocation of the Embassy. The physical \
security of the building is excellent; it is outfitted with \
modern hardline doors, windows and barriers, and we achieved \
significantly more "setback" from the street. Moreover, we \
now control all vehicles entering and exiting the compound, \
which was not the case in the previous location. Technical \
security also improved with better-constructed and \
well-defined CAAs. \
\
(C) The Regional Security Officer (RSO) faces a challenging \
audience when dealing with Swiss authorities on Post \
security. Many Swiss authorities do not consider the United \
States Embassy in Bern as a high-value target for terrorists; \
this fallacy and its resulting challenges require frequent \
intervention and lobbying by the RSO. Recurring conversations \
and education resulted in positive instances of excellent \
security support. We succeeded in persuading Swiss \
authorities not to cut the number of posts currently manned \
by either Swiss law enforcement or military. In addition, we \
have requested and received security support for dozens of \
high-level U.S. officials either visiting or transiting \
Switzerland. The response of Swiss authorities to security \
incidents has been commendable. They sent a well-trained \
professional team to the Embassy to deal with a "white \
powder" incident, and on several occasions have controlled \
and mitigated suspicious individuals or vehicles in the area \
of the Embassy. They sent appropriate support for \
demonstrations directed at the Embassy and for special events \
such as the July 4th celebration. On occasion, the RSO has \
requested and received close protection for me at large \
public events. \
\
(C) The most disappointing security issue was the rejection \
by the Swiss government of our request to deploy a \
surveillance detection team. The decision was made at the \
highest levels (the Federal Council) and was conveyed to us \
by the Foreign Ministry. The chances of reversing that \
decision are poor considering the high level of political \
attention it received. The RSO will continue to work with his \
resources and coordinate with Swiss authorities to provide \
appropriate levels of security support. \
\
---------------------- \
Defense Attach Office \
---------------------- \
\
State of the Partnerships \
\
(U) Switzerland's continued presence in the Balkans, level \
of engagement in NATO's Partnership for Peace, and its recent \
decision to withdraw the two military officers assigned to \
ISAF reflect a military willing and at least superficially \
able to contribute to regional security but severely \
constrained politically. As Switzerland tries to find its \
niche on the geo-strategic security stage, it has begun to \
focus limited efforts towards Africa. Given the current \
turmoil within the Defense Ministry and the recent abrupt \
resignation of the current Defense Minister Samuel Schmid, \
Swiss engagement abroad will increasingly be under the \
auspices of the Foreign Ministry. \
\
Greatest Challenges \
\
(U) The Swiss military is limited by law to participating \
only in peace support operations (PSOs) -- as opposed to \
peacekeeping or peace enforcement -- and only under the \
auspices of either a UN or an OSCE mandate. Furthermore, the \
standing posture of the military's involvement in PSOs and \
other military engagements is participation under a \
multilateral umbrella, equally avoiding bilateral \
involvement's with either NATO or the EU. \
\
Contribution to Regional Stability, Democracy, and Foreign \
Assistance \
\
(U) On September 20, 2007, the Swiss parliament voted to \
double the number of peace support operations troops from 250 \
to 500. While the actual realization of this effort will \
most likely occur beyond the 2010 timeline originally \
attached to the bill, it nevertheless provides insight into \
the Swiss desire to be seen as contributing to regional \
security and stability. Currently, Switzerland is \
coordinating though DAO Bern to donate medical equipment to \
the Afghan National Army. And, as mentioned previously, \
Switzerland is increasingly focused on disarmament, \
democratization, and reintegration efforts on the African \
continent. \
\
(U) Our engagement initiatives with the Swiss military will \
continue to emphasize U.S. desires for them to maintain their \
250-strong peacekeeping contingents deployed in Kosovo and \
Bosnia and broaden their NATO-partnership activities beyond \
Europe, and we will continue to explore cooperative ventures \
for improved regional security and stability in Africa. \
Towards that end, we will work in concert with both U.S. \
European Command (USEUCOM) and African Command (USAFRICOM). \
\
We will continue to maintain a robust defense procurement \
relationship with the Swiss military, even as Swiss budgetary \
constraints manifest themselves in less outlay for \
acquisition. We will also continue to encourage the Swiss \
military to further utilize military assets -- particularly \
excess defense articles -- in humanitarian relief/aid efforts. \
\
--------------- \
Law Enforcement \
--------------- \
\
Counterterrorism and Law Enforcement Efforts \
\
(U) The Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), Department of \
Homeland Security (DHS), and Drug Enforcement Administration \
(DEA) are the law enforcement entities represented at post. \
Other law enforcement offices are represented through \
regional offices. Ongoing efforts continue with the \
government of Switzerland to grant the Regional Security \
Office (RSO) law enforcement status. \
\
(U) Switzerland strictly forbids investigative activity \
within its territory by U.S. law enforcement. Thus, a high \
reliance exists on the Swiss authorities to conduct \
investigations on behalf of the U.S. in Switzerland. \
Obstacles that have continued to hinder full cooperative \
efforts and the free exchange of information in this regard \
include an unfavorable Mutual Legal Assistance Treaty (MLAT) \
that requires Swiss notification to the subject and \
disclosure, and Switzerland,s strict personal privacy \
statutes. \
\
(U) This has reinforced the importance of the development of \
liaison and rapport with Swiss law enforcement authorities by \
U.S. law enforcement agencies at a working level, as well as \
efforts at the ministerial level to invigorate information \
sharing, particularly as it relates to counterterrorism and \
money laundering. \
\
(U) As a result of these efforts, we have seen a measured \
improvement in overall Swiss cooperation with U.S. law \
enforcement authorities at the federal, cantonal, and local \
level. In addition, we remain optimistic concerning a new \
version of the Operative Working Arrangement (OWA) recently \
ratified by the Swiss parliament, which allows the formation \
of joint U.S.-Swiss investigative teams to address criminal \
and counterterrorism investigations with a U.S.-Swiss nexus. \
\
(U) Our current challenge exists in continuing to enhance law \
enforcement cooperation, intelligence sharing, and efforts to \
apply the OWA in joint cases. \
\
(U) Liechtenstein continues to be a model of cooperation for \
U.S. law enforcement, having offered legal assistance on \
important money laundering investigations and the arrest of \
significant U.S. fugitives. The principality continues to be \
in full compliance with the Financial Action Task Force \
requirements. \
\
---------------- \
Public Diplomacy \
---------------- \
\
(U) The Public Affairs Section (PAS) is lean, with one \
officer and three staff members. The budget supports limited \
programming, two IVLPs, and one to one-and-one-half I-Bucks \
speakers. Public Diplomacy outreach focuses on enhancing \
public support for the United States and its goals and on \
improving counterterrorism cooperation. Mutual understanding \
is advanced through intensive use of the Fulbright and IV \
Programs and alumni; actively engaging media in \
Switzerland,s three major languages; increasing educational \
advising and university relationships; presenting \
multi-culturalism in the United States through Iftar, Black- \
and Women's History Month speakers; and programming American \
terrorism experts in all language regions. \
\
(U) The last published media survey addressing Swiss \
anti-Americanism was Q1 2007. It ranked Switzerland as \
having the most anti-American levels in Western Europe. \
Moreover, a September 2008 interview with Swiss Ambassador to \
the United States Urs Ziswiler said he was concerned by the \
anti-American attitude of the Swiss. PAS believes \
anti-Americanism remains high: Inaccurate and/or negative \
stories about the United States or the Embassy continue in \
tabloids, free commuter papers and in the Geneva dailies. \
However, the investment in ramped-up outreach has yielded \
results, including dramatic increases in the number and \
diversity of Fulbright applicants; the number of universities \
hosting Embassy programming; the number of media inquiries \
and accurate stories; and alumni group participation and \
activity. \
\
-------- \
Consular \
-------- \
\
(U) In 2008, the Consular Section led an interagency effort \
to convince the Swiss government to begin negotiations on the \
Terrorist and Criminal Information-Sharing Agreement. To \
date, the Swiss have shown little interest in this proposal, \
arguing that such an agreement would be incompatible with \
Swiss privacy laws. The Consular Section is now attempting \
to get Swiss authorities to suggest their own version of such \
an agreement that would be consistent with Swiss privacy laws \
and still fulfill the intent of the U.S. proposal. We hope \
to lay the groundwork for a Swiss negotiating team to visit \
Washington in early 2009. \
\
(U) The January 12, 2009, deadline for mandatory use of the \
Electronic System for Travel Authorization (ESTA, a DHS \
program for advance registration of travel to the U.S. so far \
aimed at Visa Waiver Program (VWP) travelers) is fast \
approaching. The Bern Consular Section has been active in \
getting the word out to airlines, tourist agencies, leading \
business groups, and the Swiss traveling public at large that \
ESTA is out there and that its use will be required for all \
Visa Waiver travel as of January 12. These outreach efforts \
have been assisted by FCS and PAS. \
\
(U) The early arrival (August 2008) of the new Consular \
Section chief, permitting a 3-month overlap with the \
departing Section Chief, temporarily brought the Section's \
officer complement to the full staffing of four officers. \
This enabled Post to greatly reduce its large backlog of NIV \
appointments, which had occurred due to staffing gaps. \
Currently, the waiting period for an appointment is one week. \
As of early November, the Consular Section has found itself \
again short one officer, and only the seasonal drop in NIV \
applications has prevented the backlog from again approaching \
high levels. The next entry level officer is due to arrive \
in March 2009. Post is seeking TDY/WAE support in the \
meantime to keep the situation from assuming the unacceptable \
Spring-Summer 2008 proportions. \
\
----------- \
Conclusion \
----------- \
\
I would like to thank the following dedicated and talented \
career officers at Embassy Bern who have worked with me in \
advancing our mission in Switzerland and Liechtenstein. They \
contributed significantly to this memorandum and remain \
committed to working under the leadership of Deputy Chief of \
Mission and Charg, Leigh Carter, until the next ambassador \
arrives. \
\
Deputy Chief of Mission, Leigh Carter \
Political/Economic section: Richard Rorvig, Chris Buck, \
Leslie Freriksen, Meg Goldfaden, and Diane O,Guerin \
Foreign Commercial Service: Donald Businger \
Management: Jonathan Schools \
Regional Security Office: Brian Murphy \
Defense Attach Office: Colonel Dorothea Cypher-Erickson \
Department of Homeland Security: Michael McCool \
Drug Enforcement Administration: E. Joe Kipp \
Federal Bureau of Investigation: Danny Boyd \
Public Diplomacy: Lisbeth Keefe \
Consular: Ed Birsner \
\
Thank you for this opportunity to serve my country. \
\
Ambassador Peter R. Coneway \
\
\
CONEWAY \

© Scoop Media

 
 
 
 
 
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