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Swiss foreign minister commends UAE achievements

posted on 10/01/2002: 622 views

Swiss Federal Minister for Foreign, Joseph Deiss has commended the formidable strides made by the UAE over the last three decades. 'These significant achievements, which were only possible due to the visionary leadership of HH President Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan, have won the UAE a great respect and admiration through out the world' said Deiss in a letter to Sheikh Sultan bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Deputy Prime Minister and Chairman of the Zayed Centre. The UAE has remarkably distinguished itself as a wonderful crossing point between the east and west, he said. Deiss sent the letter to Sheikh Sultan as a gesture of appreciation for the initiative of the Zayed Centre to release a book on the UAE's relations with Switzerland. Speaking about the UAE-Swiss relations on this occasion, Dr. Francois Barras, Swiss Ambassador to the UAE said that the UAE and his country had enjoyed long-standing relations for thirty years.

Barras said that UAE and Switzerland, which are service-oriented countries with a long tradition of financial efficiency, can forge partnership in the area of countering money laundering. He said that the events of September 11 have made it imperative for peace loving countries to work closely to combat the menace of terrorism and other associated crimes such as money laundering. He pointed out that countries which are service-oriented and known for their efficient financial systems could be taken advantage of by people with other ulterior motives. 'The UAE and Switzerland have two financial systems that are open and efficient. This openness can be abused', said Barras. He said that any co-operation between the two countries would be fruitful and would not damage trust and confidentiality, which are necessary for the reputation of the financial institutions.

The two countries can share information and exchange experiences in this regard. Asked if the freezing of some assets by Swiss banks in the wake of September 11 would not damage the credibility of the Swiss banks, Dr. Barras said it was impossible to maintain neutrality in the fight against terrorism. 'There can be no neutrality on the issue of terrorism. Many countries, including the UAE had to freeze some suspected assets', he said. While these counter-terrorism measures are being taken to keep dirty money away from the financial institutions, yet still more measures are being taken to safeguard honest clients. 'We have now applied the principle of know-your-client first so that honest clients are not affected' Barras said.

He added that the other area of partnership between UAE-Switzerland is the area of promoting dialogue between the Arab and Islamic world and the west. He said Switzerland is well placed to promote this dialogue by virtue of its long history of relations with the Arab region. Switzerland can change stereotypes about Arab countries by highlighting successful models of tolerance in the Arab world such as the UAE, he said. The UAE has set an excellent example as a modern, tolerant and peace loving state in which various religions and cultures co-exist side by side, he said, adding that this is something that should be highlighted. (The Emirates News Agency, WAM)


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