Swiss Foreign Policy, 1973–1975

Swiss Foreign Policy, 1973–1975

«This kind of foreign ministry, with no police protection, but with a peaceful vegetable market ante portas, is what Palestinians dream of», a functionary of the Fatah party remarked on leaving the federal parliament building in Bern in June 1973. He was visiting the Federal Political Department (FPD, now FDFA) to establish a representation of the Palestinian Liberation Organisation (PLO) in Geneva. In this way, the negotiator ventured, «attacks by terrorist groups» in Switzerland would in the future be «gradually […] steered away from our country» (Doc. 23, dodis.ch/39251). A threat? When, two years later, the Federal Council, following a request of UN Secretary-General Kurt Waldheim, allowed an observer at the United Nations in Geneva, that observer told the Federal Department for Foreign Affairs that the PLO had «been able, in a number of cases, to stop attacks that Palestinian factions had planned in or against Switzerland, by pointing to the current, positive relationship» (Doc. 187, dodis.ch/38640).
 
Telegrams, Notes, Protocols …
The crisis in the Middle East, interlinked with the Palestinian question, was at the centre of Swiss foreign policy in the 1970s. Following the Yom Kippur War (Doc. 47, dodis.ch/39249) and the Arabian oil boycott, the entire economic system of Western industrial nations was destabilised after 1973. The energy crisis and economic crisis that ended thirty years of post-war economic boom defined the landscape of Swiss international relations from 1973 to 1975, covered in the newly published 26th volume of the Diplomatic Documents of Switzerland (DDS). The edition contains telegrams, circulars, correspondences between Swiss diplomatic missions and headquarters in Bern, minutes of Federal Council meetings, as well as notes and working papers by different departments. These illuminate a broad spectrum of activities in foreign policy and foreign economics.
 
Car-free Sundays and «North-South Dialogue»
The Federal Council considered different measures in response to the scarcity of fossil fuels, for instance a driving ban on Sundays, which the head of the Federal Department of Economic Affairs (FDEA), Federal Councillor Ernst Brugger, however, classified as «window-dressing»: «It achieves little and is hardly sustainable in the long term» (Doc. 49, dodis.ch/39686). Foreign trade was to focus on diversifying suppliers, especially in the area of multilateral cooperation in matters of energy and natural resources (Doc. 58, dodis.ch/40607 and Doc. 185, dodis.ch/40610). It was considered paramount to participate in the «North-South-Dialogue» between industrial nations and developing nations exploiting natural resources, «since Switzerland owns no seat and vote in either the United Nations or in the institutions of Bretton Woods» (Doc. 184, dodis.ch/40609). «Especially on the basis of its statutory neutrality,» Switzerland now had an interest in the Non-Aligned Movement dominated by «third-world countries» (Doc. 165, dodis.ch/38984).
 
UN as a foreign judge?
But the energy crisis also cast a shadow on development assistance. Canvassing for the public opinion, Pierre Graber, head of the FPD, declared in March 1974 «clearly, that in the future, he would refuse to consent to any new project ‹located in the geographical zone of oil-producing countries›» (Doc. 74, dodis.ch/38300). The relationship with sub-Saharan Africa remained delicate due to close contacts with the South African Apartheid regime, contacts now criticised even by Swiss diplomats who demanded a «more balanced policy on Africa» (Doc. 100, dodis.ch/38893). Here, significant differences came to light especially between the FPD and the FDEA (Doc. 162, dodis.ch/38916). In the matter of economic sanctions against Rhodesia, the Department of Foreign Affairs was wary of giving in to pressure from the UN, so as not to cast the latter «as a kind of foreign judge […] in the eyes of the Swiss public,» which would increase «the population’s oblique opposition against joining the UN» (Doc. 183, dodis.ch/40605).
 
Currency snake and ECHR
In January 1973, even before the energy crisis hit, the financial markets were shaken by the lifting of the fixed exchange rate (Doc. 3, dodis.ch/39503). The «free floating» of the Swiss Franc, however, could not become a «permanent solution» (Doc. 7, dodis.ch/39504), especially since the currency was increasingly used in international financial transactions (Doc. 117, dodis.ch/39505). The Federal Council therefore debated whether Switzerland should join the so-called European currency snake (Doc. 141, dodis.ch/39506). Relations with the European community remained a dominant aspect particularly in economic questions, with Bern aiming to avoid «a situation in which the way the community’s legislation develops appears as an inevitable element of our policies» (Doc. 173, dodis.ch/39512). The «lacking possibilities of participation and influence» due to non-membership in the EC were seen as «frustrating» in some quarters. In general, the foreign department was aware that Swiss politics was «in increasing measure complementary to external circumstances and influences» (Doc. 18, dodis.ch/40541), as can also be seen in the joining of the European Convention on Human Rights (Doc. 107, dodis.ch/39382).
 
Helsinki Final Act and CSCE negotiations
Another central theme of the new volume is the Conference on Security and Co-operation in Europe (CSCE). The dynamics created by the negotiations opened up entirely new possibilities to Swiss Diplomacy in the area of multilateral European politics. Already during preliminary negotiations in Helsinki (Doc. 32, dodis.ch/38816), as well as during the dogged main negotiations in Geneva (Doc. 57, dodis.ch/38848 und Doc. 89, dodis.ch/38858), the Swiss delegation, together with the other European neutrals, constructively distinguished itself through mediation and proposed solutions. On the occasion of the signing of the Final Act in Helsinki in 1975, President of the Federal Council Graber delivered a mixed but nonetheless optimistic summary (Doc. 158, dodis.ch/38867). Not least because participation in the conference offered new opportunities for bilateral exchange at the highest level, for example with the French President Valéry Giscard d’Estaing or with GDR party leader Erich Honecker (Doc. 160, dodis.ch/38322).
 
New markets in the East?
As a result of the CSCE and of a general policy of détente, contacts to Communistically governed Eastern Europe expanded. Minister of Economic Affairs Brugger had travelled to Moscow in 1973 to forge tighter connections with the Soviet Union for the energy and exporting industries (Doc. 34, dodis.ch/38769). Minister of traffic Willi Ritschard made a similar effort in 1975 to negotiate on site about Soviet purchases in natural gas (Doc. 143, dodis.ch/38768). Diversification of sales markets was also the new magic word in the exporting industries. Thus, China, «with its 800 millionen potential customers,» was eagerly anticipated as a «future trading partner of Switzerland‘s» (Doc. 137, dodis.ch/37700), as is born out by the visits by Federal Councillors Graber (on occasion of the first Swiss industrial and technological exhibition in Beijing, 1974) and Ritschard, as well as other celebrity guests (Doc. 153, dodis.ch/37707). The impression that Switzerland was «trending» in China inspired hopes (Doc. 178, dodis.ch/37717).
 
Image problems
With its «good offices» in the mediation of the conflict between India and Pakistan, Swiss diplomacy had been an «important cog» (Doc. 43, dodis.ch/39413). Yet there frequently were bad headlines, too: «A certain propaganda that is celebrating victories particularly in the United States has picked Swiss banks as its favourite example in arguing that our financial institutes offer ideal conditions for illegal and even criminal manipulations of all kinds» (Doc. 109, dodis.ch/38960). The «foreign domination referendum» too, damaged the country’s reputation, especially in foreign workers’ countries of origin: «It opposes to our efforts towards solidarity and cooperation the image of an exaggerated nationalism hostile to progress and to foreigners» (Doc. 86, dodis.ch/38402). A newly created coordinating commission, later dubbed «Presence Switzerland,» was to launch a «general propaganda campaign for Switzerland abroad» (Doc. 135, dodis.ch/40560).
 
Fear of the people?
After the coup against Salvador Allende in Chile, 1973 (Doc. 82, dodis.ch/38253), Max Frisch wrote an open letter to the Federal Council in which he strongly criticised the asylum policy with which those persecuted by the military junta were met (Doc. 69, dodis.ch/38268). The end of Franco’s regime in Spain (Doc. 191, dodis.ch/39095) and the political upheavals in Ethiopia (Doc. 119, dodis.ch/38887), too, affected Switzerland. In view of the «growth of foreign policy’s significance that also includes for Switzerland,» the highest levels of diplomacy pondered the «vexing question of how a goal-oriented foreign policy determined by the country’s interests can be enforced despite the changing emotions of the parliament and the people,» and how interest «in foreign policy issues, in taking seriously these issues» can be generated in «the Swiss people.» Conclusion: «Foreign political interests should not be abandoned out of fear of the people» (Doc. 148, dodis.ch/34236).
Swiss Foreign Policy, 1970–1972

Swiss Foreign Policy, 1970–1972

«Europe» was already the most important issue of Swiss diplomacy in 1970.
As was written by Paul R. Jolles, Head of the Division of Trade of the
Federal Department of Public Economy (FDPE), in relation to the upcoming
negotiations with the European Economic Community (EEC), «the attempt to
establish a newer and more suitable type of conditions for cooperation
requires a fertile imagination, as well as sufficient time». «The
trickiest problem will no doubt be the organising of Switzerland’s
institutional collaboration in the integration process» (doc. 44,
dodis.ch/35774, original in German).

Accepted by both the people and the cantons in December of 1972 (doc. 182,
dodis.ch/35776), the elaboration of the free trade agreement with the EEC
constitutes the core part of the new volume of the Diplomatic Documents of
Switzerland (DDS). This volume, number 25, focuses on Switzerland’s
foreign relations from 1970 to 1972. This edition of documents comprises
telegrams, circulars, correspondence between Swiss diplomatic
representations and the headquarters in Bern, the minutes of sessions of
the Federal Council, as well as memos and work papers originating from
various federal departments. In relation to the agreement with the EEC,
Federal Councilor Hans-Peter Tschudi recorded the fact that it would lead
«to a development of our country in the direction of Europe […] that would
be practically irreversible» (doc. 160, dodis.ch/35778, original in
German). Many documents are reminiscent of the challenges with which Swiss
diplomacy has been dealing up to this day in more than just the solving of
«institutional issues» with the EEC.

The origins of the OSCE
More than forty years before Switzerland’s 2014 presidency of the
Organisation for Security and Co-operation in Europe, the Federal Council
and the Federal Administration developed an active travel policy, in order
to exchange views with Eastern and Western Governments, regarding the
European Security Conference that would take place in Helsinki, in 1973
(doc. 156, dodis.ch/34494 and doc. 157, dodis.ch/34496). Switzerland
became highly involved in this organisation, the OSCE’s predecessor
organisation. Bern explicitly attempted to play a part in the proposal for
a system that would enable the peaceful settlement of disputes (doc. 173,
dodis.ch/34487). «Were our country to be absent, this would go against the
fundamental rules of its policy, the basis of which is neutrality and
solidarity, openness and cooperation» (doc. 144, dodis.ch/34499, original
in French), as stated in a 1972 policy document of the Political
Department, the present FDFA.

Mutual legal assistance treaty with the U. S.
The negotiation process which took place in May of 1973 is another
reminder of current affairs, as it lead to the still valid mutual legal
assistance treaty with the U.S. According to a permanent study commission,
a «noticeable loosening» of the concept of sovereignty took place in the
years prior to the negotiations, and «never before had so much been
expected of Switzerland in the field of legal aid» (doc. 66,
dodis.ch/35400, original in German). The U.S. interest in international
crime fighting became an increasing threat to the Swiss banking secrecy,
which the financial centre as well as trading associations protected
strongly every time it was being attacked.

Radical changes in the field of monetary policy
In light of an overflow of dollars, in 1971, the Swiss Federal Council, in
agreement with the National Bank, decided to reevaluate the Swiss Franc.
To the people, this was proof of the Government’s courage and decisiveness
– «we were finally ruled over for once» (doc. 72, dodis.ch/35737, original
in German).

This was followed in summer by President Nixon’s termination of the U.S.
dollar’s convertibility to gold. This was one of the last symptoms that
indicated the upcoming crumbling of the Bretton-Woods system, which in
turn, would lead to the Swiss Franc’s being increasingly used as a reserve
currency (doc. 140, dodis.ch/35401). Nello Celio, the Swiss Minister of
Finance, was concerned about the developments he observed in the global
monetary and economic policy. «Along with the National Bank […], I believe
that we must, in time, become further engaged in monetary issues, if we
want to be in control of something», were his words to Eberhard Reinhard
from the Swiss Credit Institution (doc. 166, dodis.ch/35598, original in
German).

«The number of big banks increases massively»
Foreign Minister Graber too recognised «that in the monetary sector,
Switzerland was not far from becoming a Great Power» (doc. 66,
dodis.ch/35400, original in French). Some were however more critical in
this area as well. When the Swiss Bank Corporation tried to push the
Federal Banking Commission to hurry the opening of a Japanese bank’s
branch office in Zurich, as it was the condition for the SBC to itself be
able to open a branch in Tokyo, it was given a harsh answer: the
Commission «never disguised the fact […] that it considered the massive
increase in big banks as well as the inflow offoreign banks into
Switzerland as unhealthy and damaging to the country’s general interest»
(doc. 117, dodis.ch/35515, original in German).

Terrorism reaches Switzerland
A characteristic of the early 1970s is the growth of international
terrorism, the effects of which even Switzerland could not avoid. With the
plane crash caused by a bomb exploding on board an aircraft in the area of
Würenlingen in February (doc. 8, dodis.ch/35440 and doc. 12,
dodis.ch/35468) and the hijacking of a Swissair aircraft on its way to
Jordan, which was orchestrated by the Popular Front for the Liberation of
Palestine, in September 1970 (doc. 37, dodis.ch/35415), Switzerland became
increasingly caught up in the Arab-Israeli conflict. A particular
challenge came in the form of the abduction of Giovanni Enrico Bucher, the
Swiss Ambassador in Rio de Janeiro, by Brazilian Guerilleros (doc. 51,
dodis.ch/35840 and doc. 59, dodis.ch/35841).

«Good deeds»
A traditional subject that becomes more important in volume 25 is that of
Switzerland’s «good deeds». To what lengths should one go when one acts as
an «honest broker»? This is the type of question that Swiss Ambassador
Silvio Masnata, who represented the U.S. interests in Cuba, asked himself.
Was he to convey messages to Havana on behalf of Washington, which – based
on his knowledge of U.S. interests – he thought ought to be improved? «If
you notice someone on the street who is about to step into an open
manhole, do you not shout out to them to be careful?» (doc. 76,
dodis.ch/34509, original in French). Switzerland especially played this
part when the negotiations between the U.S. and the Soviet Union regarding
nuclear arms reduction were transferred to Geneva (doc. 155,
dodis.ch/35513), or in the case of the conflict surrounding the
independence of Bangladesh (doc. 87, dodis.ch/35284 and doc. 106,
dodis.ch/35311), in which Switzerland was given a double mandate
empowering it to act as protecting power for the interests of both India
and Pakistan (doc. 113, dodis.ch/35283 and doc. 126, dodis.ch/35309).

The rise of China
Through the organisation of a exchange of diplomats, Switzerland was also
able to play an active part in dealing with the tensions taking place
between the People’s Republic of China and Cambodia (doc. 121,
dodis.ch/35750). With Peking’s admittance to the UN in 1971 (doc. 102,
dodis.ch/34306) and President Nixon’s visit to China in 1972, the «Middle
Kingdom» again became a focus of Swiss foreign relations. In his talk to
the diplomatic corps, Federal Councilor Graber recorded the fact that «the
centre of gravity of world politics» had shifted from Europe to Asia and
that in the future, China would «play a political part which would match
its geographic and demographic size» (doc. 89, dodis.ch/34585, original in
French).

«Does one dare wear the bold swimming costume?»
A certain normalisation came into place, with regards to the «divided
states». Bern recognized North Vietnam, for instance (doc. 90,
dodis.ch/35603) and in the context of its position in the Armistice
Commission, it dared a – however unsuccessful – attempt to take up
diplomatic relations with North Korea (doc. 168, dodis.ch/35837). In its
relations with the GDR too, the setting up of diplomatic representations
on both sides meant that, in the words of Hansjakob Kaufmann – the Head of
the newly opened representation in East Berlin – Switzerland was taking a
«first step into the cold water». To him, this was not enough: «We should
not act like a lady who owns a somewhat bold swimming suit, but then, can
never muster the courage to actually wear it.» (doc. 181, dodis.ch/34373,
original in German). In the end, on December 20, 1972, shortly before most
of the other Western countries, Bern took up diplomatic relations with the
GDR (doc. 179, dodis.ch/34372).

«What the people must not be informed of»
Switzerland’s foreign policy became a growing subject of public debate.
The FPD focused its efforts in having a professionalized communication
policy «which made use of modern technologies, especially audio-visual
ones, that would make reaching the wider population possible», so as to
foster a «climate of interest, openness and understanding of the problems
which affect our country’s fate on a larger scale» (doc. 52,
dodis.ch/35368, original in French). Opinions however varied as to how
much the population should be informed of. The footnotes of the over 180
documents printed in the new volume provide references to about 1500 other
documents, which can accessed though the online database Dodis
(search.dodis.ch).

One of these documents is a list established by the Integration Bureau,
which bears the following intriguing title: «What should not be said in
the declaration to the people regarding the treaty between Switzerland and
EEC» (dodis.ch/36230, original title in German).

Swiss Foreign Policy, 1967–1969

Swiss Foreign Policy, 1967–1969

For the most part, Felix Schnyder was happy with his work in Washington. «In an otherwise excellent relationship between Switzerland and the U.S., the only problem to cause unfriendly and critical remarks is the business of Swiss banks under the banner of our bank secrecy», the Swiss ambassador reported to Berne in December 1967.

Bank Secrecy as a Political Issue

According to him, several leading US-officials had confronted him with their concern «that criminal associations in America could secure the profits of their felonious ways by misusing Swiss numbered accounts.» Already 45 years ago, the top diplomat predicted that «it is not to be ruled out that the question of bank secrecy could develop to be a central political issue in the relationship between the U.S. and Switzerland.» (Doc. 58, dodis.ch/33138, Original in German) The operations of the financial center are not only an issue in connection to the U.S. but take up a prominent position in Swiss foreign policy as a whole. For example, the high-frequency station ‘Kurzwellendienst’ produced a whole series concerned with the criticism of the banking sector, titled «Spotlight on Swiss Banks» (Doc. 23, dodis.ch/33015, Original in French).

1968 – an Outstanding and Epochal Year

The most recent volume of the document edition Diplomatic Documents of Switzerland displays how many problems and issues of Swiss foreign policy between 1967 and 1969 are still relevant today. Research findings enable eye-opening insights into foreign relations of Switzerland in these eventful times surrounding the epochal year of 1968.

Accelerated Rhythm of Publication

The compilation contains telegrams, circulars, letters and other correspondence between Swiss diplomatic representation and their central office in Berne, protocols of meetings of the federal council, memos and working documents of top officials of the Federal Political Department (today’s Federal Department of Foreign Affairs) and other departments, records of strategic meetings and many other documents and materials. The almost 200 printed and annotated documents from the Swiss Federal Archives are completed with roughly 1500 additional documents accessible for free on the online database Dodis. Using an accelerated rhythm of publication, the DDS plan to complete the series with documents for the years 1945 to 1989 (Volumes 16 – 31) by 2020.

Déja-Vu with Migration Policy and Tax Issues

Volume 24 of the Diplomatic Documents of Switzerland provides a broad selection of issues of Swiss and international politics. Not only the discussions on tax flight and bank secrecy can evoke a Déja-Vu in the reader, other topics such as migration policy were already highly relevant. Here, the issues of integration of the – mostly Italian – foreign workers and their families in social security (Doc. 157, dodis.ch/32303) and education (Doc. 166, dodis.ch/32356) as well as xenophobia (Doc. 120, dodis.ch/32837) are prominent aspects.

Switzerland’s Relationship with Europe and the U.N.

At the end of the 1960s, European policy was already actively discussed and the questions of integrating Switzerland in the structure of the European Economic Community EEC took up a dominant place in foreign policy discourse. Especially since the partner states of the European Free Trade Association EFTA – Denmark, Norway and especially the UK – applied for membership to the EEC, the problem of how a future common market in Europe could look like and how Switzerland could collaborate in an «agreeable manner» to find a «pan-European solution» had to be discussed (Doc. 165, dodis.ch/33034). Between 1967 and 1969, Switzerland was increasingly incorporated into international structures, as it is reflected in the questions of joining the UN (Doc. 4, dodis.ch/33242), the World Bank and International Monetary Fund (Doc. 72, dodis.ch/32796), in the negotiations of the Kennedy-Round concerning the General Agreement of Tariffs and Trade (GATT) in Geneva (Doc. 24, dodis.ch/33255) or in the discussion on participating at a conference on security in Europe (Doc. 188, dodis.ch/32405).

Rapprochement Towards the Communist World

In the course of the détente between East and West, Switzerland also showed a certain opening tendency towards the communist world, as manifested in the efforts to expand trade with Eastern European countries (Doc. 135, dodis.ch/33630) or in the careful rapprochement towards not officially recognized states such as the GDR (Doc. 149, dodis.ch/32468), North Korea (Doc. 169, dodis.ch/33133) or North Vietnam (Doc. 127, dodis.ch/32173).

Switzerland as a Mediator in International Conflicts

Within the great conflicts of the epoch, such as the Vietnam War (Doc. 83, dodis.ch/32172), the Six-Day War (Doc. 28, dodis.ch/33280) or the Biafra conflict (Doc. 136, dodis.ch/33251), Switzerland tried to fulfill its classic role as a mediator – not always successfully. The terrorist attack in Kloten even brought the Middle East conflict into the midst of Switzerland (Doc. 130, dodis.ch/33710). The suppression of the Prague Spring by the armies of the Warsaw Pact brought a stream of thousands of refugees from Czechoslovakia which were graciously received in Switzerland (Doc. 108, dodis.ch/33048).

Busy Traveling Diplomacy

While in prior years, the government constrained itself rigorously on state visits, various federal councilors traveled to foreign countries between 1967 and 1969. Foreign Minister Willy Spühler not only visited the neutral partners Sweden and Austria (Doc. 21, dodis.ch/33202), France (Doc. 186, dodis.ch/33247), Canada (Doc. 38, dodis.ch/33202) and the U.S. (Doc. 41, dodis.ch/33135) but also communist nations such as Romania (Doc. 140, dodis.ch/33135) and Yugoslavia (Doc. 170, dodis.ch/32381) as well as East Africa (Doc. 161, dodis.ch/33643). Meanwhile, the head of the Federal Department of Economic Affairs, Hans Schaffner, travelled to Japan and Hong Kong (Doc. 25, dodis.ch/32485) as well as Argentine (Doc. 160, dodis.ch/33267).

A Federal Councilor in the Kremlin

In celebration of the opening of the direct air link between Zurich and Moscow in 1967, Minister of Transport Rudolf Gnägi was the first federal councilor ever to visit the Soviet Union. He was joined by the Secretary General of the Political Department, Pierre Micheli. In his report, Micheli was deeply impressed: «Upon entering the Kremlin, one is overwhelmed by a similar feeling one would experience in Washington: the sudden sensation to be in the midst of an enormous political and administrative apparatus that exceeds all prior experience.» Adding that «the presence of the vital signs of an immense empire leave Switzerland appear rather small in comparison» the chief diplomat of the Confederation emphasized that «neither the Kremlin nor the Ministry of Foreign Affairs ever gave the impression to treat our country as a negligible factor» (Doc.44, dodis.ch/32783, Original in French). At any rate, bank secrecy was no issue at all in Moscow.

Schweizer Aussenpolitik 1964 bis 1966

Schweizer Aussenpolitik 1964 bis 1966

In den repräsentativen Räumlichkeiten seiner Residenz in Moskau unterhielt sich der schweizerische Botschafter, August R. Lindt, im Dezember 1966 mit seinem nordkoreanischen Amtskollegen. «Ich empfing heute Botschafter Kim Ben Dik», schrieb Lindt nach Bern: «Er betrachtete sinnend das Glas Kirsch, das ich ihm kredenzt hatte, und sagte: ‹Dieses Getränk ist eben so rein und kristallklar wie die schweizerische Politik›» (Dok. 184, dodis.ch/31369).

«Heuchlerische Haltung der Schweiz»
Das Ansehen der Schweiz in der Welt war Mitte der 1960er Jahre nicht überall so schmeichelhaft wie im Urteil des nordkoreanischen Botschafters. So beklagte sich ein Mitarbeiter des Eidg. Politischen Departements, des heutigen EDA, anlässlich eines Ausbildungsprogramms für Diplomaten aus Entwicklungsländern in Genf 1965 über wachsende Ressentiments gegenüber der schweizerischen Neutralitätspolitik: «Die Bemerkungen der Kursteilnehmer waren, kurz zusammengefasst, ein Sammelsurium einer hämischen Kritik an der heuchlerischen Haltung der Schweiz zu den aussenpolitischen Problemen unserer Zeit» (Dok. 104, dodis.ch/31614).

Differenzierter Blick
Der neueste Band der Aktenedition Diplomatische Dokumente der Schweiz (DDS) zeigt, dass in der schweizerischen Aussenpolitik zwischen 1964 und 1966 tatsächlich nicht alles so kristallklar war, und wirft einen differenzierten Blick auf die Art und Weise, wie sich das Land den aussenpolitischen Herausforderungen stellte. Die Forschungsergebnisse ermöglichen erhellende Einblicke und Erkenntnisse zu den Aussenbeziehungen der Schweiz in diesem bewegten Zeitraum.

Telegramme, Zirkulare, Korrespondenzen …
Die Zusammenstellung enthält Telegramme, Zirkulare, Briefe und andere Korrespondenzen zwischen den diplomatischen Vertretungen der Schweiz und der Zentrale in Bern, Protokolle der Sitzungen des Bundesrates, Aktennotizen und Arbeitspapiere von Spitzenbeamten des Politischen Departements und anderer Departemente, Aufzeichnungen strategischer Sitzungen und Besprechungen sowie weiteres Dokumentationsmaterial. Die fast 200 abgedruckten und mit einem wissenschaftlichen Apparat versehen Aktenstücke aus dem Schweizerischen Bundesarchiv werden durch rund 900 zusätzliche Dokumente ergänzt, die auf der Online-Datenbank Dodis frei zur Verfügung stehen.

Breite Themenpalette
Band 23 der Diplomatischen Dokumente der Schweiz entfaltet eine breite Palette an Themen schweizerischer und internationaler Politik. In der zitierten Kritik der jungen afrikanischen Diplomaten stand vor allem die Haltung der Schweiz gegenüber den rassistischen Regimes in Rhodesien (Dok. 120, dodis.ch/31085) und Südafrika (Dok. 7, dodis.ch/31045, Dok. 84, dodis.ch/31040 und Dok. 156, dodis.ch/31047), gegen die die UNO Wirtschaftssanktionen bzw. ein Waffenexportverbot erlassen hatte. Doch auch in der westlichen Welt musste die Schweiz um ihren guten Ruf bangen. Aus London wusste der schweizerische Botschafter zu berichten, die Eidgenossenschaft sei «in manchen Kreisen des Publikums nicht gut angeschrieben»: Besonders die Rolle der Banquiers – als «Gnoms of Zurich» verschrien – würde negativ hervorgehoben (Dok. 56, dodis.ch/31416).

Déjà vu bei Migrationspolitik, Steuerfragen …
Einige der Themen, die 1964–1966 für die schweizerische Aussenpolitik relevant waren, sind bis heute von ungebrochener Aktualität. So stand schon damals die Migrationspolitik, vor allem in Bezug auf die italienischen Arbeitskräfte im Land in Zentrum, über die auch unter dem Schlagwort der «Überfremdung» Debatten geführt wurden (Dok. 37, dodis.ch/30798, Dok. 48, dodis.ch/30799, Dok. 53, dodis.ch/30796 und Dok. 54, dodis.ch/30797). Auch beschwerte sich Deutschland schon 1966 über die Steuerflucht seiner Bürger in die «Steueroase Schweiz» (Dok. 177, dodis.ch/31445). Entsprechend gewichtig waren die Verhandlungen um den Abschluss von Abkommen zur Verhinderung der Doppelbesteuerung mit verschiedenen Staaten (Dok. 92, dodis.ch/31443), auch mit einem «innenpolitisch instabilen» Italien (Dok. 44, dodis.ch/31063).

… und Währungshilfe
Bereits 1966 galt es zudem, einer bedrängten europäischen Währung zu Hilfe zu kommen: Damals befanden sich die britische Wirtschaft und das Pfund in einer schweren Krise, und es galt, wie das Eidgenössische Finanzdepartement urteilte, «im Interesse der Erhaltung eines stabilen westlichen Währungssystems […] und damit auch in unserem eigenen Interesse» mit Millionenkrediten der Nationalbank einzugreifen (Dok. 128, dodis.ch/31415).

Einbindung in internationale Systeme
Die Dokumente zeigen auch die fortschreitende Einbindung der Schweiz in internationale Systeme, wie etwa durch den Beitritt zum Allgemeines Zoll- und Handelsabkommen GATT im Jahr 1966 (Dok. 129, dodis.ch/31815). Entscheidend war diese Zeitperiode auch für das Weiterbestehen der Europäischen Freihandelsassoziation EFTA. Für das Gründungsmitglied Schweiz stellte sich zunehmend die Frage, wie die Beziehungen zwischen der EFTA und der Europäischen Wirtschaftsgemeinschaft EWG auszugestalten seien (Dok. 172, dodis.ch/31640). Dabei kam es vor allem mit dem britischen EFTA-Partner oft zu Konflikten, die sich auch in harten Wortwechseln niederschlagen konnten (Dok. 65, dodis.ch/31417). Die Entspannungspolitik zwischen West und Ost motivierte schweizerische Wirtschaftskreise zu vermehrtem Interesse für die osteuropäischen Märkte, das sich beispielsweise in einer schweizerischen Industrieausstellung in Moskau (Dok. 151, dodis.ch/31032) manifestierte.

Vietnamkrieg und Kulturrevolution
Daneben werden in den Aktenstücken auch weltpolitische Umbrüche und Ereignisse wie der Ausbruch der Kulturrevolution in China (Dok. 167, dodis.ch/30917) oder der Vietnamkrieg (Dok. 161, dodis.ch/30976) reflektiert. Gerade angesichts globaler Konflikte spielen auch traditionelle Felder schweizerischer Diplomatie wie die Vertretung fremder Interessen (Dok. 101, dodis.ch/31456 und Dok. 107, dodis.ch/30981), so z. B. diejenigen der USA in Kuba (Dok. 146, dodis.ch/30985) oder die Rolle Genfs als Sitz internationaler Organisationen (Dok. 50, dodis.ch/31620), weiterhin eine massgebliche Rolle in dieser eigentlichen Übergangsphase schweizerischer Aussenpolitik.