Medvedev urges Swiss support for new pact

22nd September 2009, Comments 0 comments

Russian President Dmitry Medvedev on Monday urged Switzerland to approve his proposal for a new European security pact.

Bern -- Russian President Dmitry Medvedev on Monday urged Switzerland to support his proposal for a new European security pact as he became the first Kremlin chief to visit the country.

"The level of security is deteriorating rapidly. In my opinion, it would be in Swiss interest that such a system is created," Medvedev said during his two-day state visit to Switzerland.

Medvedev expressed hopes that as a neutral country without membership in alliances like NATO, Switzerland would approve of his idea to arrange a new European security pact.

"Remaining free from bloc problems, other prejudices, Switzerland has taken a worthy place in the modern multi-polar world, doing everything to strengthen it," Medvedev said at the start of talks with Swiss officials earlier Monday.

In June 2008, Medvedev, on a visit to Berlin, proposed a new treaty on European security, an idea that has so far received little support.

But in a sign that his plan may be gaining progress, NATO secretary general Anders Fogh Rasmussen said earlier in September that the alliance would respond to Medvedev's ideas on a new Euro-Atlantic security arrangement.

"Our Swiss colleagues said that such exchanges of opinions are of interest to them," Medvedev told a joint news conference with his Swiss counterpart.

His Swiss host, President Hans-Rudolf Merz, did not discuss details of the pact, however, speaking vaguely of Russia's "strategic" significance.

Medvedev told Swiss officials earlier that Moscow values "the positive attitude of Swiss colleagues to the idea proposed by Russia to develop a legally binding agreement on European security."

Medvedev also called for closer ties between the two countries as he met top Swiss and Russian businessmen, including billionaires Viktor Vekselberg and Alisher Usmanov.

For Vekselberg, whose investment company Renova has stakes in Swiss engineering firm Sulzer and Swiss technology group Oerlikon, bilateral ties were improving but attitudes towards Russians remained guarded.

"It is surely a fact. We are being treated with caution in Switzerland. I spoke about this in my address," Vekselberg said, referring to his talk to Medvedev and Merz.

Vekselberg also told reporters he expected Swiss authorities, who have investigated him on suspicion of violating share trading rules, to deliver a ruling soon.

"We have not violated the Swiss legislation and are hoping the Swiss authorities would come to the same opinion," he said.

In April, Swiss authorities opened criminal proceedings against Vekselberg and two other businessmen on suspicion of breaking share trading rules.

The Swiss Finance Ministry had said in a statement then that there were "sufficient indications to suspect that Ronny Pecik, Georg Stumpf and Viktor Vekselberg had acted in concert when building a stake in Sulzer AG from November 2006 to April 2007 and in doing so had violated their disclosure obligations."

In April 2007, an Austrian partner of Vekselberg's Renova conglomerate revealed that it had built a 31.4 percent stake in Sulzer.

Following bilateral talks, Russian and Swiss officials also signed several deals agreeing to simplify visa procedures, as well as to cooperate on international development, humanitarian operations and sports.

On Tuesday, Medvedev was set to travel to central Switzerland where he would honour Alexander Suvorov, who in 1799 crossed the Alps from Italy to stop Napoleon's troops.

AFP / Anna Smolchenko / Expatica

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