Geneva referendum backs WTO extension

29th September 2009, Comments 0 comments

Residents of Geneva vote to extend the World Trade Organisation headquarters on Lake Geneva.

Geneva -- Geneva inhabitants on Sunday approved a plan to extend the World Trade Organisation headquarters overlooking Lake Geneva.

The extension was approved by 62 percent of voters and rejected by 38 percent.

Opponents of the referendum, including extreme left-wing members of the city council and Geneva's mayor, argued the project would block citizens from accessing the shores of Lake Geneva.

WTO director general Pascal Lamy welcomed the result however.

"The result of this referendum allows us to advance beyond this important stage of the project of renovation/extension of the WTO headquarters in Geneva," he said in a statement.

"The debate on this referendum has brought us closer to the Geneva population and we intend to pursue our efforts in this respect," he added.

The WTO employs about 800 people in Geneva. The extension will allow the WTO to add space for 300 staff and a 200 vehicle car park. The Swiss government and the WTO are between them to spend CHF 130 million (EUR 86 million, EUR 126 million) on the extension.

AFP / Expatica

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