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New Documents on Switzerland’s Foreign Policy 1992

On December 6, 1992, the Swiss electorate sealed a turning point in Switzerland’s European policy. Switzerland’s accession to the European Economic Area (EEA) suffered a shipwreck. «The Federal Council acknowledges and respects this decision», declared President René Felber after the vote, but regretted «that Switzerland is thus renouncing the possibilities of openness offered to the country and is thus also breaking its policy of rapprochement with Europe, a political intention since the Second World War» (dodis.ch/61182). How did this break come about?   The Dodis research centre has analysed numerous documents relating to the fateful year of 1992 and published a selection of them in the Dodis database and in the latest volume of Diplomatic Documents of Switzerland, just in time with the expiration of their legal protection period on January 1, 2023. «The files show», says Dodis Director Sacha Zala, «that at the end of the certainties of the Cold War, it was precisely the issues of political integration that challenged Switzerland the most.»   A Shambles of European Policy   It was still spring when the Federal Council decided to rapidly submit an application to the European Communities (EC) to begin accession negotiations. The decision was not undisputed: while the representatives of Latin Switzerland pleaded for a swift move forward, Federal Councillors Arnold Koller and Adolf Ogi feared that such a discussion could put a strain on the votes on the EEA and on the New Railway Link through the Alps. Federal Councillor Kaspar Villiger stressed that the EEA had «a real chance», while the accession question was «still very controversial». In a second round of discussions, Transport Minister Ogi abandoned his opposition, thus tipping the scales (dodis.ch/58958). On May 20, the Federal Council adopted the letters of accession to the EC. For the EEA vote, this turned out to be a communicative high-wire act. The best-known and most powerful opponent of the EEA was Christoph Blocher, a National Councillor of the Swiss People’s Party from Zurich. In the Economic Affairs Committee, he called for «enforcing» bilateral agreements with the EC, but found no allies among most of his colleagues. Pascal Couchepin, Radical Democratic National Councillor from Valais, warned against the increasing emotionalisation of the debate, which would ultimately endanger democracy (dodis.ch/60997). A heated referendum campaign was waged in and outside parliament, which ended in shambles for the Federal Council in terms of European policy after the decision on St. Nicholas Day. Although there were internal regrets that not all Federal Councillors had spoken out clearly in favour of the EEA in a public appearance, the task now was to «accept the decision of the sovereign», to heal the «torn wounds» as quickly as possible, to «reunite the country» and to prevent renunciation from spreading (dodis.ch/60622).   Global Economic and Financial Relations   Swiss trade diplomacy also tried to counteract the omnipresent focus on Europe in 1992 and presented itself as eager to network at the global level. Bilateral trade with China (dodis.ch/61393), with the emerging «Asian Tiger» Taiwan (dodis.ch/61266), or with Argentina and Chile (dodis.ch/61447) were at the centre of these considerations. The Uruguay Round of the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade, whose negotiations had to be unblocked in the area of agriculture, was considered the most important instrument for strengthening non-European contacts (dodis.ch/62343). As far as financial policy was concerned, the people and the cantons decided in May that Switzerland would join the Bretton Woods Institutions. Switzerland was to exert influence through an additional Executive Council seat and the formation of a new group of countries, because «if you don’t reach your goal right away and accept a folding chair, you’ll never get back to the table» (dodis.ch/62733). With Poland and the new Central Asian states of Uzbekistan, Kyrgyzstan, Turkmenistan and Azerbaijan, Switzerland finally combined enough weight and moved into the International Monetary Fund as head of the so-called «Helvetistan» voting group. The WEF in Davos provided an opportunity to build relations with the newly independent states as did a remarkable initiative by the Federal Council, where President Felber received the heads of state of the CIS countries (dodis.ch/60457). «Best Possible Compromises» in Environmental Policy   The main event of multilateral cooperation was the United Nations Conference on Environment and Development. After active preparatory work by Switzerland, delegates from 178 countries negotiated solutions to global environmental problems in Rio de Janeiro (dodis.ch/61093). At the signing of the Climate Convention, Environment Minister Cotti solemnly announced that Switzerland would stabilise its CO2 emissions at 1990 levels by the year 2000. His final report stated that the best possible compromises had been reached at the «Rio Earth Summit» (dodis.ch/61051). In a major campaign, Switzerland subsequently sought to have the Secretariat of the Commission on Sustainable Development located in Geneva. While UN Secretary-General Boutros-Ghali let it be known that he had other plans for the UN headquarters in Geneva as early as in April (dodis.ch/58969), his negative decision at the end of the year still came as a surprise to Switzerland, which had persuaded the majority of UN member states to support Geneva as a key location for environmental policy making (dodis.ch/62551). It was not Switzerland’s only defeat in competition for a site in 1992, as The Hague was chosen to host the Secretariat of the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (dodis.ch/61983). On the other hand, Geneva’s candidacy for the seat of the CSCE’s Court of Conciliation and Arbitration was successful (dodis.ch/61464).   War and Peacekeeping   In 1992, the CSCE devoted itself entirely to conflict prevention and crisis management, which was acutely called for after the upheaval in the structure of Europe’s security policy. The CSCE dealt with the war in the former Yugoslavia as well as the conflicts in Nagorno-Karabakh, Transnistria and Abkhazia, where it would later conduct peacekeeping operations in cooperation with NATO and the Western European Union (WEU) (dodis.ch/61951). On its part, the Federal Council presented in August a roadmap on how a first Swiss blue helmet battalion could be made available to the UN and the CSCE from the end of 1994 onwards (dodis.ch/62528). Swiss UN military observers had been stationed in the Middle East since 1990, and the deployment of a Swiss medical unit in Western Sahara was extended. In Bosnia and Herzegovina, Switzerland participated in both the CSCE missions and the UN Protection Force. In addition, humanitarian aid was to alleviate the suffering of the war victims. Because of the large number of workers from the former Yugoslavia, the warlike events in Bosnia had «eminent political significance for Switzerland». The country has a «special moral obligation» to increase its aid (dodis.ch/60663). With this in mind, Switzerland allowed hundreds of children and persons in need of protection to enter the country from Bosnia. At the same time, the return of seasonal workers from Macedonia and Kosovo was provisionally still considered possible (dodis.ch/62285). In the field of asylum policy, the concept of so-called «safe countries» continued to be intensively discussed (dodis.ch/61255).   The Nerve Centre of Swiss Neutrality   Finally, the changing European security architecture shook the essence of Swiss self-perception and a Federal Council study group called for the «reorientation of foreign policy with regard to neutrality» (dodis.ch/59120). When a discussion paper of the Military Department pointed out the limits of the autonomous defence capability of the Swiss Armed Forces, the FDFA warned «the nerve centre of Swiss neutrality» was affected: «If the army of the neutral small state of Switzerland can in future only fulfil its military mission in association with foreign armed forces, if neutrality loses its protective effect and becomes a risk», this would undermine its very «foundation» (dodis.ch/61955). After an exchange with the neutral states of Austria, Sweden and Finland (dodis.ch/61100) and the observation that they had «decided to move closer to NATO and WEU», Defence Minister Kaspar Villiger addressed Foreign Minister Felber directly: there was now a need for Switzerland to take a similar step, because «only in this way could we avoid becoming isolated in terms of security policy» (dodis.ch/61267). The negative result of the EEA referendum, which brought 1992 to a close, did not change the Swiss interest in security policy integration. «It remains to be seen», says Dodis Director Sacha Zala, «whether this desire for cooperation will materialise in 1993.» The files, which will become freely accessible in a year’s time, will show.
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Diplomatische Dokumente der Schweiz zur Geschichte der UNO 1942–2002

«C’est pour moi une joie et un honneur de vous affirmer la volonté de la Suisse de participer activement aux travaux des Nations Unies.» Mit diesen Worten schloss Bundespräsident Kaspar Villiger am 10. September 2002 seine Rede vor der UNO-Generalversammlung in New York (dodis.ch/55178). Heute vor genau 20 Jahren trat die Schweiz, nach langem Zögern, als weltweit letzter souveräner Staat der Organisation der Vereinten Nationen bei. Pünktlich zum 20. Jahrestag des UNO-Beitritts publiziert die Forschungsstelle Diplomatische Dokumente der Schweiz (Dodis) den dritten Band der Serie «Die Schweiz und die Konstruktion des Multilateralismus»: www.dodis.ch/q15. Darin sind 50 zentrale Dokumente zur komplexen Beziehungsgeschichte der Schweiz zur UNO zwischen 1942 und 2002 ediert mit Hinweisen auf über 2000 weitere Dokumente in der Datenbank Dodis. Diese Vielzahl an Dokumenten belegt, wie dem Beitritt der Schweiz zur UNO lange Zeit ein eng gefasstes und überhöhtes Neutralitätsverständnis im Weg stand. Noch 1986 hatte die Schweizer Bevölkerung einen UNO-Beitritt wuchtig an der Urne verworfen. Der Beitritt 16 Jahre später stand unter dem Zeichen der aussenpolitischen Öffnung nach dem Ende des Kalten Kriegs: Im März 2002 wurde die Volksinitiative «Für den Beitritt der Schweiz zur Organisation der Vereinten Nationen» mit 54,6 Prozent Ja-Stimmen angenommen. «Die Ziele der UNO-Charta entsprechen den Zielen der schweizerischen Aussenpolitik», hatte der Bundesrat in seiner Botschaft verkündet: «Sie kann den Bestimmungen der Charta Folge leisten, ohne die Neutralität aufzugeben» (dodis.ch/53989). «Dass sowohl im Abstimmungsbüchlein, im Beitrittsgesuch als auch in der Rede des Bundespräsidenten immer wieder penetrant auf eine Bekräftigung der Neutralität hingewiesen wurde, zeigt das jahrzehntelange Ringen der Landesregierung nach einem Kompromiss und veranschaulicht paradigmatisch die verzweifelte Suche nach einem Surrogat für das fehlende Sonderstatut, wie es der Schweiz seinerzeit anlässlich des Beitritts zum Völkerbund 1920 noch explizit gewährt worden war», bilanziert Sacha Zala, Direktor der Forschungsstelle Dodis. «Dabei hätte eigentlich bereits seit 1946 auch für die Schweiz evident sein müssen, dass neutrale Staaten problemlos auch als UNO-Mitglieder neutral bleiben konnten.» Direkt zum neuen Band: www.dodis.ch/q15
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50 Jahre Dodis

Dodis turns 50!

Dieses Jahr feiert die Forschungsstelle Dodis Jubiläum: Im kommenden Herbst jährt sich die Gründung des Forschungsprojekts zum 50. Mal. Die Initiative zur Edition der Diplomatischen Dokumente der Schweiz konkretisierte sich im Laufe des Jahres 1972. Der Präsident der Schweizerischen Gesellschaft für Geschichte, Professor Louis-Edouard Roulet, lud im September 1972 die «Initianten, die Historischen Institute der schweizerischen Universitäten, den Gesellschaftsrat der AGGS/SGSH und weitere interessierte Kreise» zu einer Sitzung am Samstag, den 14. Oktober 1972, 10 Uhr, am Historischen Institut der Universität Bern ein: «Eine Gruppe jüngerer Historiker, vornehmlich aus der welschen Schweiz, hat die Herausgabe einer möglichst umfassenden Quellensammlung zur schweizerischen Aussenpolitik seit 1848 angeregt», informierte er die Eingeladenen (dodis.ch/37044). An jenem denkwürdigen Samstag im Herbst 1972 präsentierte Antoine Fleury im Namen der Initianten die Idee des Projekts und nach einer Eintretensdebatte beschlossen die Anwesenden, ein Komitee zu bilden, um das Vorhaben voranzutreiben (dodis.ch/37043). Dodis war gegründet! Seit der Publikation des ersten Bandes der Aktenedition (DDS, Bd. 7-I) im Jahr 1979 sind 28 weitere Bände zu den internationalen Beziehungen der Schweiz seit der Bundesstaatsgründung 1848 erschienen. Die nun dritte Serie der DDS zu den 1990er Jahren wurde äusserst erfolgreich am 4. Januar 2021 lanciert mit den gleichentags im Bundesarchiv neu zugänglichen Dokumenten zum Jahr 1990. Die Forschungsstelle hat ferner mit den Quaderni di Dodis und den Saggi di Dodis neue Publikationsgefässe für die Geschichte der Aussenbeziehungen der Schweiz geschaffen, sich nicht zuletzt dank der bereits seit 25 Jahren frei zugänglichen Datenbank zu einem «Flaggschiff der Digital Humanities» entwickelt und sich als Paladin der Open-Access-Bewegung starkgemacht. Dies alles feiert die Forschungsstelle Dodis in den kommenden Monaten zusammen mit befreundeten Institutionen und Wissenschaftskreisen, ihren Stakeholdern und der Öffentlichkeit: Agenda 15. Juli 2022 Festakt und Wissenschafts-Networking im Bundesarchiv. 17. September 2022 Stand an der SAGW-Jubiläumsmesse auf dem Bahnhofplatz Bern. Ab 14.30 Uhr ist die interessierte Öffentlichkeit herzlich willkommen. 18. Oktober 2022 Veranstaltung im Bundeshaus mit Bundespräsident Ignazio Cassis.
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Screenshot Dodis-Datenbank 2001

Dodis: 25 Jahre online!

Als erste Edition diplomatischer Dokumente weltweit, ging Dodis am 28. Mai 1997 im Palais des Nations in Genf online und schrieb damit ein Stück Pioniergeschichte des Internets. Als die allerersten Dokumente auf der Datenbank Dodis online geschaltet wurden, steckten die Recherchen der Forschungsstelle noch mitten in den 1940er Jahren. Zum ersten veröffentlichten Dokument dodis.ch/3, eine Aktennotiz vom 9. Mai 1947, haben sich seither 43'425 Dokumente, 55'557 Personeneinträge, 26'426 Organisationen und 10'497 geografische Einträge gesellt und die Forschungen sind nun scharf an der 30-jährigen Archivschutzfrist angelangt. In diesen Monaten erforscht Dodis das Jahr 1992 und wird die dabei zutage geförderten Dokumente am 1. Januar 2023 exakt beim Ablauf der Schutzfrist publizieren. Als Dodis 1997 online ging, gaben gerade einmal 6,8 Prozent der Schweizerinnen und Schweizer an, das Internet «mehrmals pro Woche zu nutzen». Weitere 15,1 Prozent deklarierten, es «mindestens einmal in den letzten 6 Monaten» genutzt zu haben und unter der Top-Level-Domain «.ch» waren lediglich 129 Webadressen registriert. Auch die Snapshots des «Internet Archive» reichen nicht ganz bis ins Jahr 1997 zurück. Wie die Datenbank vier Jahre später, im Jahr 2001, aussah, zeigt das Titelbild dieser Mitteilung. Mit der Onlineschaltung der Datenbank Dodis am 28. Mai 1997 hat die Forschungsstelle nicht nur einen Meilenstein gesetzt, sie hat sich selbst auch ein schönes Jubiläumsgeschenk gemacht: So feiern wir heuer nicht nur die 25 Jahre der Datenbank Dodis, sondern auch die 50 Jahre der Gründung der Forschungsgruppe Diplomatische Dokumente der Schweiz. Die Initiative zur Edition der Diplomatischen Dokumente der Schweiz konkretisierte sich im Laufe des Jahres 1972. Der Präsident der Schweizerischen Gesellschaft für Geschichte, Professor Louis-Edouard Roulet, lud im September 1972 die «Initianten, die Historischen Institute der schweizerischen Universitäten, den Gesellschaftsrat der AGGS/SGSH und weitere interessierte Kreise» zu einer Sitzung am Samstag, den 14. Oktober 1972, 10 Uhr, am Historischen Institut der Universität Bern ein: «Eine Gruppe jüngerer Historiker, vornehmlich aus der welschen Schweiz, hat die Herausgabe einer möglichst umfassenden Quellensammlung zur schweizerischen Aussenpolitik seit 1848 angeregt», informierte er die Eingeladenen (dodis.ch/37044). An jenem denkwürdigen Samstag im Herbst 1972 präsentierte Antoine Fleury im Namen der Initianten die Idee des Projekts und nach einer Eintretensdebatte beschlossen die Anwesenden, ein Komitee zu bilden, um das Vorhaben voranzutreiben (dodis.ch/37043). Dodis war gegründet! Seit der Publikation des ersten Bandes der Aktenedition (DDS, Bd. 7-I) im Jahr 1979 sind 28 weitere Bände zu den internationalen Beziehungen der Schweiz seit der Bundesstaatsgründung 1848 erschienen. Die nun dritte Serie der DDS zu den 1990er Jahren wurde äusserst erfolgreich am 4. Januar 2021 lanciert mit den gleichentags im Bundesarchiv neu zugänglichen Dokumenten zum Jahr 1990. Die Forschungsstelle hat ferner mit den Quaderni di Dodis und den Saggi di Dodis neue Publikationsgefässe für die Geschichte der Aussenbeziehungen der Schweiz geschaffen, sich nicht zuletzt dank der bereits seit 25 Jahren frei zugänglichen Datenbank zu einem «Flaggschiff der Digital Humanities» entwickelt und sich als Paladin der Open-Access-Bewegung starkgemacht. Dies alles feiern wir in den kommenden Monaten zusammen mit befreundeten Institutionen und Wissenschaftskreisen, unseren Stakeholdern und der Öffentlichkeit: Agenda 15. Juli 2022 Festakt und Wissenschafts-Networking im Bundesarchiv. 17. September 2022 Stand an der SAGW-Jubiläumsmesse auf dem Bahnhofplatz Bern. Ab 14.30 Uhr ist die interessierte Öffentlichkeit herzlich willkommen. 18. Oktober 2022 Veranstaltung im Bundeshaus mit Bundespräsident Ignazio Cassis.
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Am 26. Mai 1918 erklärte die georgische Nationalversammlung die Demokratische Republik Georgien für unabhängig / Le 26 mai 1918 le Conseil national géorgien déclare l'indépendance de la République démocratique de Géorgie. Bild / Image: museum.ge

Die Schweiz, Georgien und die Anerkennungsfrage

Vor genau 30 Jahren, am 23. März 1992, notifizierte die Schweiz mittels Fernschreibens die Anerkennung Georgiens (dodis.ch/61323). Den Entscheid über die Anerkennung der Nachfolgestaaten der Sowjetunion hatte der Bundesrat bereits im Dezember 1991 gefällt (dodis.ch/57514), aber den Vollzug aufgrund der verworrenen innenpolitischen Lage in Georgien noch aufgeschoben. Mit der Überreichung des Beglaubigungsschreibens durch Botschafter Jean-Pierre Ritter beim georgischen Präsidenten Eduard Schewardnadse wurden die diplomatischen Beziehungen zwischen den beiden Ländern offiziell aufgenommen (dodis.ch/61191). Die Frage der Anerkennung Georgiens stellte sich für die Schweiz indes nicht zum ersten Mal: Bereits beim Zerfall des Zarenreichs im Zuge der Russischen Revolution von 1917 bemühte sich die «Demokratische Republik Georgien» international anerkannt zu werden. Der junge Staat versuchte auch mit der Schweiz diplomatische Beziehungen aufzunehmen (dodis.ch/60566). Im Juli 1921 entschied der Bundesrat «aus prinzipiellen Gründen» Georgien nicht anzuerkennen (dodis.ch/60569). Im Februar 1921 war die Rote Armee einmarschiert und die Regierung der «Demokratischen Republik» befand sich bereits im Exil in Paris. An ihrer statt war es dann vor 100 Jahren, im März 1922, die von Moskau installierte Räteregierung in Tiflis, die sich um die Aufnahme offizieller diplomatischer Beziehungen mit der Schweiz bemühte (dodis.ch/44817). Der Bundesrat lehnte allerdings auch dieses Ersuchen ab (dodis.ch/60571). Mit der Gründung der Georgischen Sozialistischen Sowjetrepublik, ihrer Eingliederung in die Transkaukasische Sozialistische Föderative Sowjetrepublik im Dezember 1922 und dem damit verbundenen Souveränitätsverlust des Landes war die Anerkennungsfrage für die nächsten 70 Jahre vom Tisch. Die Basler Historikerin Fenja Läser befasst sich seit längerem mit der Geschichte der schweizerisch-georgischen Beziehungen. Das Ergebnis ihrer Forschungsarbeit ist ein soeben in der Zeitschrift Saggi di Dodis erschienener Artikel: «‹L’appui de la sœur aînée›? Die Schweiz, die Demokratische Republik Georgien und die Anerkennungsfrage 1918–1921» zeichnet diese spannenden Zeiten anhand zahlreicher Dokumente aus unterschiedlichen Archiven nach. Die zentralen Dokumente aus dem Bundesarchiv wurden auf Dodis publiziert, mit allen Metadaten erschlossen und können unter der Zusammenstellung dodis.ch/C2137 konsultiert werden.
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er Schweizer Bundespräsident Flavio Cotti anlässlich seiner Rede am Europatag in Sils im Engadin/Segl vom 7. September 1991 vor zahlreichen nationalen und internationalen Gästen im Rahmen der 700-Jahrfeier der Eidgenossenschaft

Access to the Archives: New documents on Switzerland’s foreign policy in 1991

On January 1st, 2022, the confidentiality period for the Federal Files of 1991 will run out. The newly accessible documents inform about the controversial conclusion of the EEA Agreement as well as about the foreign-political challenges Switzerland was facing at the beginning of the Gulf War of 1991 and the Yugoslav Wars as well as during the dissolution of the Soviet Union.    «Europe is a part of ourselves, and we are a part of her. That is how it has always been. That is how it  will always be.» In front of a great number of guests from Switzerland and other countries, who had been invited to Sils in the Engadine in September, 1991, in the context of celebrating Switzerland’s 700th anniversary, President of the Swiss Confederation Flavio Cotti presented himself as a convinced European (Doc. 37, dodis.ch/57668). The apodictic firmness of his positioning, however, is in stark contrast to the dynamics of the developments of European policy in 1991. «In the year of the anniversary, the issue of the future relations with Europe appeared more uncertain than ever, and in this concern the Federal Council was more split than ever», says Sacha Zala, Director of the Dodis Research Centre, while referring to the recent volume of Diplomatic Documents of Switzerland (DDS) where the Swiss foreign policy of the year 1991 is documented in detail, by way of selected documents. Numerous further contemporary testimonies, which may now, on January 1st, 2022, be published after their legally fixed period of confidentiality will have run out, present 1991 as a sobering year which posed new challenges also for Switzerland, in particularly after the promising turning point of the year 1990.    «Becoming a satellite» as a result of the EEA Agreement? Throughout that entire year, the European integration remained to be the most urgent topic. A glimmer of light in this context was the conclusion, by Federal Councillor Adolf Ogi, of the transit agreement with the European Community (EC) (Doc. 51, dodis.ch/58168). Less successful were the negotiations on the European Economic Area (EEA). If in 1990 the EEA «compromise» seemed to have been the only possible solution, in 1991 there was no agreement at all among the Federal Council. In March, the President of the Swiss Confederation, Cotti, made the suggestion to his fellow Councillor, Jean-Pascal Delamuraz, who headed the Federal Department of Economic Affairs and was the chief negotiator together with Foreign Minster René Felber, to break off the «humiliating» negotiations on the EEA as soon as possible, in favour of applying for immediate accession (Doc.  9, dodis.ch/57510). The disagreement among the Federal Council was also symbolised by the controversial debate at the Federal Council’s meeting of April 17th, 1991: whereas Minister of Finance Otto Stich was convinced that «a bad agreement can never be considered a step in the right direction» and that the EEA as it existed at that time meant «Switzerland becoming a satellite», Foreign Minister Felber emphasized the «many positive aspects» and the «certain advantages» even of an agreement which was imbalanced to Switzerland’s disadvantage. For Defence Minister Kaspar Villiger, on the other hand, the country was on its way towards being a «colonial state with an autonomy statute» (Doc. 13, dodis.ch/57331).   International pressure In the course of talks with their European partners the Federal Councillors made several attempts to give expression to their discontent about the way in which the negotiations were running. German Foreign Minister Genscher replied staunchly that «one’s own national interests could be best supported» only if a country was an EC member (Doc. 16, dodis.ch/57028). Even more critical towards Switzerland standing apart was the statement by French President Mitterrand who pointed out that banks alone were no sufficient foundation for a civilisation (Doc. 25, dodis.ch/58092), whereas EC chief negotiator Krenzler even spoke of a «modernity deficit» of Switzerland which could only be «corrected» by Switzerland joining the EC respectively the EEA waiting room (Doc. 27, dodis.ch/58039). Only immediately before the meeting of the EC and EFTA ministers in Luxemburg where, according to Switzerland, either «a breakthrough was to be enforced or the failure of the negations was to be stated» (Doc.  44, dodis.ch/58388), the Federal Council made its landmark decision. In the course of the night to October 22nd, 1991, Federal Councillors Felber and Delamuraz accepted the negotiation results concerning the EEA agreement and declared Switzerland joining the EC the strategic goal. Yet still: «The vote on the EEA has not yet been won», the Foreign Affairs Committee of the Council of States anticipated soberly: «There is still gigantic work to be done if the people are to accept this agreement» (Doc.  56, dodis.ch/58525).    Dramatic developments in East Europe In 1991, also the developments in Europe’s East showed unchecked dynamics. Under the «maxim of solidary co-responsibility», the Federal Council passed a new Eastern Aid loan of 800 million CHF. Now also Albania, Bulgaria, Romania, Yugoslavia and the USSR were supposed to benefit from Swiss financial aid (Doc.  35, dodis.ch/57522). The Soviet Union, however, was to be non-existent by the end of 1991: with the founding of the Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS) in December, the Union of Socialist Soviet Republics ceased to exist. Remarkably Switzerland, usually rather reluctant when it came to issues of recognition, counted among the first countries to announce the recognition of the Soviet successor republics (Doc.  61, dodis.ch/57514). In Switzerland, the dramatic developments in Yugoslavia affected most of all the way of dealing with the considerable share of Yugoslav migrants. In the context of the Conference on Security and Cooperation in Europe (CSCE), however also in the course of unilateral moderation initiatives, Switzerland attempted to contribute to de-escalation on the Balkans (Doc.  50, dodis.ch/58114).   «Good offices» in the context of a new world order Also in other regions of the world Switzerland attempted to contribute to pacification. When, shortly before the beginning of the Gulf War, in January, 1991, the Foreign Ministers of the USA and Iraq were meeting one last time in Geneva for talks, once again the Federal Council offered «good offices» and support of the mediation process (Doc.  2, dodis.ch/57332). In the context of the Lebanon conflict, Swiss diplomacy supported the release of hostages and prisoners (Doc.  33, dodis.ch/58395), and in Afghanistan it attempted to contribute to a political solution of the messy situation by creating a new negotiation format (Doc.  29, dodis.ch/57737). «It is remarkable how actively Swiss foreign policy was involved, alongside the United Nations yet indeed pursuing its own ambitions, in the settlement or prevention of conflicts in quite different regions of the world», says Dodis Director Zala. Switzerland’s search for its new place in the new world order came along with increasingly participating in multi-lateral panels. For example, during its autumn session the parliament passed Switzerland’s accession to the Bretton Woods institutions (Doc.  40, dodis.ch/58258).   Economic relations and development aid Trips to and visits from economically dynamic regions outside Europe were meant to avoid any one-sided focus of Switzerland on the European integration. Economic topics were the focus of Federal Councillor Delamuraz’s visit to South Korea and Singapore (Doc.  10, dodis.ch/57647), the same held for Federal Councillor Felber’s trip to India (Doc.  47, dodis.ch/57398), Secretary of State Jacobi’s visit to Beijing (Doc.  21, dodis.ch/57590) or for welcoming Argentinian Foreign Minister Di Tella to Berne (Doc. dodis.ch/58462). A new policy by the Agency for Development and Cooperation and Humanitarian Aid provided the foundation of entering into dialogue with partners from developing countries (Doc.  28, dodis.ch/58718). Starting out from a petition by aid organisations, development cooperation was also prominently positioned in the context of the celebrations on the occasion of Switzerland’s 700th anniversary. By help of a highly symbolic fund of 700 million CHF, the Federal Council intended to, on the one hand, fund debt relief measures for poorer developing countries and to contribute to environmental programmes and projects of global significance on the other (Doc. 59, dodis.ch/57999).   Youth Session demands a «solidary Switzerland» Finally, a solidary Switzerland was also demanded by the participants in Switzerland’s first Youth Session, happening in the context of the celebrations on the occasion of the 700th anniversary. «The young people roughly sketched a foreign-political action programme which was in line with the then common mood of opening up and awakening», explains Dodis Director Zala. Concerning Switzerland’s then and future foreign policy, they demanded Switzerland to act swiftly and as global pioneer: «We do care about what is happening in other countries of this world» (Doc.  43, dodis.ch/58000).
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Der Schweizer Bundespräsident Arnold Koller unterzeichnet am Gipfeltreffen der Teilnehmerstaaten der KSZE im November 1990 die Charta von Paris für ein neues Europa

Swiss Foreign Policy 1990: The new volume has arrived!

«The division of our continent becomes the subject of the past», proclaimed the President of the Swiss Confederation Arnold Koller at the Paris Summit of the Conference on Security and Cooperation in Europe (CSCE): «What the peoples wished for a long time, starts: an era of collaboration between East and West with the goal to build a new, united Europe». (doc. 50, dodis.ch/54685). After the epochal upheavals of 1989, 1990 was also marked by the European turnaround. The democratic changes in Central and Eastern Europe, the disappearance of East-West antagonism and the reunification of Germany gave wings to the European idea. In the midst of these changes, Switzerland is being questioned about its neutrality, its role in the international community and its position on European integration. The new volume of Swiss Diplomatic Documents (DDS) sheds light on the major developments in Switzerland's international relations in 1990 through a selection of documents and a multitude of cross-references to other official sources as well as information from the online Dodis database. Visits from the East The fact that the «Epicenter of Western European politics» is shifting «slightly to the east» has not only been in connection with the reunification of the two German states (doc. 43, dodis.ch/56427). The policy of official visits also reflects this change. In February, Polish President Wojciech Jaruzelski visits Bern (doc. 5, dodis.ch/56181): in the autumn, the Federal Council received the last head of the GDR government, Lothar de Maizière (doc. 35, dodis.ch/55552) finally there were meetings with Václav Havel, the icon of the «Velvet Revolution» in Czechoslovakia, (doc 54, dods.ch/55850) and the Soviet Foreign Minister Eduard Shevardnadze (doc 58, dodis.ch/55430). With an initial framework credit of CHF 250 million, Switzerland also supported the transformation processes in Eastern Europe, first and foremost in Poland and Hungary, which were already the most advanced in the reform process (doc. 12, dodis.ch/55680). Is neutrality still in keeping with the times? On the question of the recognition of the independence of the three Baltic states, Switzerland held back. Driven by its policy of neutrality, Switzerland cautiously argues that the prerequisites for recognition are not yet present (doc. 61, dodis.ch/54526). «Significance, value, and meaning of neutrality as an institution of the international law and as a foreign policy maxim of Switzerland», were however increasingly questioned (doc. 24, dodis.ch/54523). Uncertainty is spreading with the advent of the new geopolitical situation following the abrupt end of the East-West conflict. In this context, neutrals and non-aligned parties are indeed losing their importance as they move away from their traditional role as mediators. This uncertainty has also had repercussions on the evaluation of Swiss security policy - the «Report 90», which is aimed in particular at a younger generation critical of the armed forces (doc. 19, dodis.ch/54937). Feelers put out with international organisations In general, the «Swiss Sonderfall» is being called into question; Liechtenstein's accession to the UN in September 1990 makes «the change in the relationship between Switzerland and the world organization» topical again (doc. 41, dodis.ch/56180). As part of a UN Transition Assistance Group peacekeeping operation in Namibia, Switzerland is carrying out a major engagement. It is thus taking a long-awaited step in the direction of «an increasing worldwide commitment to peacekeeping» (doc. 31, dodis.ch/56036). Switzerland also positioned itself confidently vis-à-vis the Bretton Woods institutions as well, and attempted to strengthen its accession to the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and the World Bank: In a «period of turning towards Europe, the normalization of the relationships to the institutions of Bretton Woods might accomplish a much needed and welcomed balance, as well as document the openness towards the world» (doc. 1, dodis.ch/54926). EEA or «colossal isolation» The pièce de résistance of Swiss foreign policy in 1990 remained the negotiations on the European Economic Area (EEA). The national government discussed various options - that Switzerland should remain outside the single market and that the Confederation should remain the «cavalier seul» in the long run seemed out of the question. The «middle course» of the EEA was seen by the Federal Councillors as «the only realistic opportunity» for Switzerland (doc. 8, dodis.ch/54934). They were striving for a solution «that maintained the harmony between the Swiss exceptionality and the participation in Europe», while being aware that the negotiations would not lead to a «solution that corresponds entirely with our hopes» (doc. 23, dodis.ch/55262). Nevertheless, at the end of the year, the Federal Council had mixed feelings about the negotiations: the EC treats Switzerland in an «unbearable» way, and it must find the courage to say no. This was countered internally: «The alternative for Switzerland would be a colossal isolation at a point in time when the EC holds much appeal» (doc. 56, dodis.ch/54945). Gulf crisis, economic relations and sanctions In addition to the European arena, the tense situation in the Middle East was a focal point of Swiss diplomacy, be it in terms of humanitarian aid or mediation services between parties to the conflict, for example in Israel/Palestine or Lebanon (doc. 47, dodis.ch/55025). Like the international community, Switzerland does not recognise the «annexation of Kuwait by Iraq that was inevitably against international law» (doc. 29, dodis.ch/55715) and took part - for the first time ever - in a UN sanctions. On the other hand, the Swiss government maintains its economic relations with South Africa's apartheid regime, even as Nelson Mandela urges Federal Councillor Felber in a conversation to reconsider Switzerland's rejection of international sanctions (doc. 25, dodis.ch/54851). On the other side of the Atlantic, the travels of Federal Councillor Delamuraz and his trade diplomats were influenced by the neoliberal turn that is sweeping the South American continent (doc. 26, dodis.ch/56121 et doc. 59, dodis.ch/54750). Cooperation with developing countries Although Switzerland concentrates its aid on Eastern Europe, it does not neglect development co-operation with «Third World» countries (doc. 39, dodis.ch/56092). Parliament thus approves a new framework credit of 3.3 billion CHF for the continuation of technical cooperation and financial aid to developing countries. However, the question of support for repressive regimes still arises. In Nepal and Rwanda, Switzerland calls for respect for human rights (doc. 14, dodis.ch/56128 et doc. 48, dodis.ch/56080). Switzerland - not a special case? Finally, the FDFA is in the throes of change: in addition to technical innovations, the field of international relations is expanding at an ever-increasing pace, creating new areas of activity. At the same time, Federal Councillor Felber sees his department as a mediator and a scout for a population that is perceived as ignorant: «We are here to convince our citizens that their care should neither stop at their doorstep nor at the border of our country – it is too small». It is therefore necessary to abandon the long-held view that Switzerland is a «Sonderfall»: «Switzerland, State, Nation, is no ‹Sonderfall›; it is a small piece of land on the European continent and it is a state that has the same responsibilities as all other states of this continent and of the world» (doc. 32, dodis.ch/54342).
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