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In spring 1946, a high-ranking Swiss delegation visited Washington to negotiate the release of frozen Swiss assets in the USA as well as the end of the allied boycott of companies that, during WWII, had traded with the Axis Powers. In turn, the USA, Great Britain, and France demanded that Swiss banks hand over German assets. The Washington Agreement (dodis.ch/1725), finalised 70 years ago, on 25 May 1946, after difficult negotiations, represents a milestone in Swiss foreign policy.
Wenn am 1. Juni 2016 der Gotthard-Basistunnel feierlich eröffnet wird, markiert dies den aktuellen Höhepunkt einer Entwicklung, die über eine reiche Geschichte verfügt. Der Bau einer Eisenbahnlinie durch die Schweizer Alpen war bereits im 19. Jahrhundert ein Grossprojekt von europäischer Dimension. Entsprechend eng war seine Durchführung mit aussenpolitischen Erwägungen verknüpft.
On 18 March 1946, an exchange of diplomatic notes in Belgrade (dodis.ch/48190) broke a silence that had lasted almost thirty years, establishing official relations between Switzerland and the Soviet Union. The normalization of relations with the new eastern superpower was one of the fundamental conditions for the development of Switzerland's international relations in the commencing Cold War.
«If neutral Switzerland did not exist, we [would have] had to invent it», an influential advisor of US President John F. Kennedy said in March 1962 to the Swiss ambassador in Washington, August R. Lindt. This «complete satisfaction» was also due to the Swiss representation of US interests in Cuba, which came to an end in August 2015 due to the renewal of diplomatic relations between Havana and Washington.
«The Conference on Security and Co-Operation in Europe does not end with the ceremonial signing of the final act in Helsinki on August 1st of this year. In fact in many ways it is just beginning» stated a circular of the FDFA in October 1975. Nevertheless, it marks a milestone of European history, reached at that time. For Switzerland, it designated a decisive step in the opening of its foreign policy.
No less than the leaders of the Great Powers gathered in Geneva. On July 18 1955 the summit of the «big four» began: US-President Dwight D. Eisenhower, the Soviet Minister President Nikolai A. Bulganin as well as Antony Eden and Edgar Faure, the British and French Prime Ministers, convened in the international city.
The words «church bells herald the end of the hostilities» marked the beginning of President of the Confederation Eduard von Steiger’s speech on May 8 1945: «The excruciating agony of the war-ridden people is coming to an end». In a more confidential setting a few days later, the Foreign Minister Max Petitpierre expressed mixed feelings.
It was one of the greats of world politics who passed away on January 24th 1965, at the age of 90. Around the globe, the British war-time prime minister was commemorated, likewise in Switzerland: «Radio, television, and the press of our country have expressed the feeling of vivid gratitude of the whole of Switzerland to the deceased».
On June 27 1954, a covert operation carried out by the CIA overthrew the democratically elected president of Guatemala. It was one of the first large US intelligence service operations in Latin America. The coup d'état against Jacobo Árbenz, whose father had emigrated from Andelfingen (Zurich) to Guatemala, appeared also on the agenda of the Swiss diplomacy.
«Es handle sich um eine sehr peinliche Angelegenheit, die ihm schon lange viele Sorgen mache», berichtete Paul Chaudet seinen Bundesratskollegen in der Sitzung vom 28. Februar 1964. Bei der Beschaffung der neuen Mirage-Kampfflugzeuge, führte der EMD-Vorsteher aus, sei es zu einer massiven Überschreitung des vom Parlament genehmigten Budgets gekommen.