Switzerland. According to
countryaah, nearly 60 percent of voters voted in a
referendum in February for continued free movement of labor
between Switzerland and the EU. The agreement was also
extended to include the newest EU members Bulgaria and
Romania. The anti-immigrant right-wing party SVP (Swiss
People's Party), the country's largest party, campaigned
hard on the proposal.
Following demands from US authorities and lengthy
negotiations, an agreement was signed in August that gave
the United States the right to review 4,450 US citizens'
secret bank accounts in the major bank UBS. The bank also
agreed to pay US $ 780 million in remuneration to the US and
thus escaped the legal process of assisting US taxpayers.
President Hans-Rudolf Merz caused a political crisis in
August when he apologized to Libya's government on his own
behalf, something the government has so far refused. The
reason was that the Libyan leader Muammar al-Khadaffi's son
and his wife a year earlier had been arrested and charged
with mistreatment by two employees. The notification was
withdrawn after compensation was paid to the victims of the
abuse, but Libya reacted through, among other things,
stripped oil deliveries and sanctions on Swiss companies.
Despite the apology, in December two Swiss businessmen
detained in Libya were sentenced to 16 months in prison for
visa violations. The men, who were at the Swiss embassy in
Tripoli, were reported to risk further punishment for other
Towards the end of the year, the world's eyes were fixed
on Switzerland as the country was the first in the world to
ban the construction of minarets. The decision was taken in
a referendum in which over 57 per cent voted in favor of the
proposal that SVP was behind, despite strong opposition from
the government in general and from the business community.
The UN condemned the ban, which put the government in a
legally difficult situation as it was considered contrary to
several international conventions to which Switzerland has