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Switzerland to downscale diplomacy in CEE

The Swiss government reached a decision to terminate consulates in Hungary, Slovakia, the Czech Republic, Slovenia, Croatia and Bosnia from September 1.

According to John T.C. McGough, member of the ASR for Switzerland and also as a member of the board of the Swiss Club of Hungary, the move is irrational and would place Swiss citizens living or working in the region in an unacceptable position.

The cited motive behind the measure is the reduction of expenses.

Swiss citizens are required to register with the nearest consulate when traveling abroad and these offices are also in charge of visas and the administration necessary for foreigners to travel to Switzerland. In the revised structure, taking care of whatever bureaucratic affair in the eastern part of Hungary would require traveling all the way to Vienna. The story could turn even more problematic if someone is incapacitated, out of injury or being detained by officials and needing diplomatic assistance.  Switzerland will continue to operate its embassies, but those are political representations and do not function as a service to nationals abroad.

“It is a very unfriendly gesture towards the Schengen zone,” McGough told the BBJ. The association of expat Swiss communities has already expressed its objections to the country’s Foreign Minister Calmy-Rey but have yet to receive a response they could accept.

McGough highlighted the implications for the other Swiss expats, some 720,000 of them living abroad throughout the world.

“It’ a disgrace for Switzerland I’m sad to say,” he concluded.