Davos Open Forum 2010 - Switzerland: Misfit or Model?
Primary Language: English
http://www.weforum.org 28.01.2010 Switzerland has been criticized lately: On the one hand, Switzerland's direct democracy is a showpiece; on the other hand, it unleashes worldwide consternation. Inte (More)
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00:01:24 People Occupation Theologian
00:01:45 People Occupation Theologian
00:01:55 Places Location Battleground
00:02:40 Places Country Switzerland
00:03:29 Places Country United States
00:04:39 People Known People Leonardo Da Vinci
00:04:43 Places Country Switzerland
00:05:58 People Occupation Model
00:05:58 Places City Zurich
00:07:44 General Brand Parliament
00:07:54 People Occupation Historians
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00:08:01 Places Country Switzerland
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00:08:34 General Brand Financial Times
00:08:51 People Occupation Director
00:09:41 Places Country Switzerland
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00:10:38 Objects Food Jonathan
00:10:38 People Occupation Historian
00:10:45 Places Country Switzerland
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00:11:11 Places City Oxford
00:11:15 Places Country Switzerland
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00:13:07 People Occupation Mediator
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00:14:47 General Brand Red Cross
00:14:47 Places Location Geneva
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00:19:26 People Occupation Banker
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00:20:13 Places Country Switzerland
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00:21:18 Places US State Massachusetts
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00:21:40 Places Country Switzerland
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00:22:45 People Occupation Economist
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00:23:34 Places Country Switzerland
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00:26:49 General Brand Financial Times
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00:28:14 Places Country Switzerland
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00:29:01 People Occupation Historian
00:29:12 People Occupation Economist
00:29:12 Places Location England
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00:29:34 Places Country Switzerland
00:29:38 People Occupation Organizers
00:29:42 Places Location State
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00:30:05 Places Country Switzerland
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00:31:27 Places Country Switzerland
00:31:51 General Brand Financial Times
00:31:58 Places Location Parts
00:32:02 Places Location Geneva
00:32:06 Places Location Geneva
00:32:41 Places City Zurich
00:32:41 Places Location Geneva
00:33:24 People Occupation Diplomat
00:34:35 Places Country Switzerland
00:35:15 Places Country Switzerland
00:35:19 Places Location Center
00:35:40 Places Country Switzerland
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00:36:27 Places Country Switzerland
00:36:47 Places Country Germany
00:36:51 Places Country Switzerland
00:36:59 Places Country Switzerland
00:36:59 Places Location Tax Havens
00:37:10 Places Country Switzerland
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00:38:13 Places Country Switzerland
00:38:17 Places Country Cayman Islands
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00:38:31 People Occupation Model
00:38:31 Places Country Switzerland
00:38:42 People Occupation Model
00:38:46 People Occupation Model
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00:39:05 Places Country Switzerland
00:39:12 People Occupation Model
00:39:18 Places Country Switzerland
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00:39:56 People Occupation Historians
00:40:14 Places Country Switzerland
00:40:26 Places Country Switzerland
00:40:37 Places Country Switzerland
00:41:29 General Brand Parliament
00:41:33 General Brand Parliament
00:42:04 General Brand Parliament
00:42:34 General Brand Parliament
00:42:42 Places Country Switzerland
00:43:01 General Brand Parliament
00:43:16 Objects Food Coffee
00:43:28 Places Country Switzerland
00:43:34 Places Country Switzerland
00:43:50 Places Country Switzerland
00:44:05 Places Country Switzerland
00:45:11 Places Country Switzerland
00:45:11 Places Location Outside
00:45:18 Places Country Honduras
00:45:22 Places Country Honduras
00:45:51 Objects Food Cheese
00:46:06 Places Location Center
00:46:13 General Brand IBM
00:46:17 General Brand IBM
Subtitles in: English
Start End Subtitles
00:01:09 00:01:13 Ladies and gentlemen, there can't be justice for humans
00:01:13 00:01:16 without an acceptance of the way things are, and you cannot
00:01:17 00:01:20 accept the way things are if they counter, run counter to
00:01:20 00:01:24 human rights. That is something which has been key
00:01:24 00:01:28 to the recognitions of the Swiss theologian and the social ethics
00:01:28 00:01:32 artist Arthur Rich, whose 100th birthday we are celebrating today.
00:01:32 00:01:34 Pragmatism and human justice
00:01:34 00:01:38 are not alternative guiding principles amongst which you
00:01:38 00:01:41 can choose. They belong together quite objectively.
00:01:41 00:01:45 Without factual competence and without understanding
00:01:45 00:01:48 complex circumstances, intervention from theologian
00:01:48 00:01:51 and ethical sides become moralizing self-opinionatedness.
00:01:51 00:01:55 And without human justice, without social
00:01:55 00:01:59 ethical principles, the economy becomes the battleground of egoists.
00:01:59 00:02:01 I would like to welcome you to
00:02:01 00:02:05 the Open Forum Davos 2010, and I do this on behalf of the
00:02:05 00:02:09 Swiss Federation of Protestant Churches and also on behalf of
00:02:09 00:02:12 Andr� Schneider. The representative of the WEFO,
00:02:12 00:02:16 unfortunately, has not been able to be with us today.
00:02:16 00:02:20 It is the basic idea of the open forum to organize, in parallel to
00:02:20 00:02:24 the World Economic Forum at the same time and at the same
00:02:24 00:02:28 place, a forum which is open to the public with panelists from
00:02:28 00:02:32 civil society, politics, and economy to debate subjects.
00:02:32 00:02:36 It should be a contradictory debate on very topical, very
00:02:36 00:02:40 burning issues. This afternoon, we will begin with the topic of
00:02:40 00:02:44 "Switzerland: Misfit or Model?" but I can also tell you
00:02:44 00:02:48 that instead of using the word "misfit," we had also thought
00:02:48 00:02:51 of other possible words. This evening, the subject will
00:02:51 00:02:55 be after the financial crisis come considered lessons
00:02:55 00:02:59 learned. Here, the Federation of Swiss Protestant Churches
00:02:59 00:03:03 would like to invite you to talk about the financial issue from
00:03:03 00:03:07 the villages from the Church point of view, and we have a
00:03:07 00:03:11 position paper that is available to you. Please read it and we
00:03:11 00:03:14 will be happy to hear about your opinions. Tomorrow, we
00:03:15 00:03:18 will then speak about climate change and then Friday
00:03:18 00:03:21 evening, "Does Religion's Claim to Truth Lead to
00:03:21 00:03:25 Violence? Saturday, we will then take up the "Challenge of
00:03:25 00:03:29 the Aging Society." We will also put the question, "Yes, we
00:03:29 00:03:33 can or yes can we?" after a year of Obama in the United States.
00:03:33 00:03:37 And in the evening, it will be "A World without Nuclear
00:03:37 00:03:41 Weapons: Utopia." And in all of these debates, we want to
00:03:41 00:03:45 look at factual consequences, what is pragmatic, the complex
00:03:45 00:03:48 factual connections and human rights. That is to say,
00:03:48 00:03:52 everything that is fair and just for all human beings that share
00:03:52 00:03:56 a common fate and to see these two principles on the same
00:03:56 00:03:58 footing. The open forum is the
00:03:58 00:04:02 expression of a basic conviction that was also shared
00:04:02 00:04:05 by Arthur Rich, a pioneer in crude determination of the
00:04:05 00:04:09 economy when he postulated that economic subjects should
00:04:09 00:04:13 become economic citizens. Recognize debate change, that
00:04:13 00:04:16 is the purpose of the open forum, and I would like to
00:04:16 00:04:20 thank all the panelists and particularly all those who are
00:04:20 00:04:24 here, all the participants here at this Alpine Middle School for
00:04:25 00:04:28 participating in this year's forum. Thank you.
00:04:28 00:04:31 Welcome. Have a seat, nameplates. Good afternoon,
00:04:31 00:04:35 ladies and gentlemen. "In Italy, under the Borgias, there
00:04:35 00:04:39 reigned 30 years of war, terror, murder, and assassination, but
00:04:39 00:04:43 it also produced Michelangelo, Leonardo da Vinci, and the
00:04:43 00:04:46 Renaissance. Switzerland and the Swiss lived in brotherly
00:04:47 00:04:50 harmony for 500 years of democracy and peace and what
00:04:50 00:04:54 did they produce? The cuckoo clock." This rather malicious
00:04:54 00:04:57 sentence was spoken by Orson Welles as the third main
00:04:57 00:05:01 character in The Third Man and the American Information
00:05:01 00:05:05 Services today, as Orson Welles, a lousy research. It's
00:05:05 00:05:08 because the cuckoo clock comes from the Black Forest
00:05:08 00:05:13 but it did hurt me to the quick. Is this the image that the world
00:05:13 00:05:16 has of us? Does it see us as peaceful bores skilled in
00:05:16 00:05:20 electronics and fine mechanics but meaningless, producing
00:05:20 00:05:24 meaningless objectives but not able to produce great feats?
00:05:24 00:05:28 But after the work on the minarets, I felt that peaceful
00:05:28 00:05:31 bores is perhaps not the worst image that we can convey.
00:05:31 00:05:35 What if the world sees us as evil and selfish or small-
00:05:35 00:05:39 minded people or perhaps, the world sees as self-confident
00:05:39 00:05:43 hermits and loners, who like, at the time, William Tell, would
00:05:43 00:05:47 not let anyone tell them what they had to do, or are we
00:05:47 00:05:50 perhaps an example to be copied? However, there is a lot
00:05:50 00:05:54 of potential in this image and metaphor of the cuckoo clock,
00:05:54 00:05:58 so much so that before I came to Davos, I bought a simple
00:05:58 00:06:02 model of a cuckoo clock in Zurich in a tourist shop that
00:06:02 00:06:06 sells kitsch stuff, and it should remind us that sometimes, even
00:06:06 00:06:11 the clumsiest clich�s force us to make a very clinical analysis to
00:06:11 00:06:13 refute it. But the clock is running, it's
00:06:13 00:06:17 ticking and we only have a little less than one hour to
00:06:17 00:06:21 discuss with these brilliant panelists the debates that the
00:06:21 00:06:25 subjects that we have today, and they are such excellent
00:06:25 00:06:29 panelists and I'm sure that they could speak for more than a
00:06:29 00:06:32 quarter of an hour on the subject. But if anyone speaks
00:06:32 00:06:37 for too long, this is the cuckoo clock that will simply interrupt
00:06:37 00:06:41 your intervention. That is my threat and the Damocles sword
00:06:41 00:06:45 that is hanging over your head. However, it may be that after
00:06:45 00:06:49 one minute of intervention, I will interrupt you and simply
00:06:49 00:06:53 pass on the ball to another panelist, but interrupting means
00:06:53 00:06:56 breaking of the ball can be passed back or to a third
00:06:56 00:07:00 person. These panelists are excellent people. Even the best
00:07:00 00:07:04 monologue can be bettered by a good dialogue. I know that at
00:07:04 00:07:08 the open forum, we have a high quality, highly interested
00:07:08 00:07:11 public, so instead of making long speeches and taking
00:07:11 00:07:15 inventory, we should go right into debate because you know
00:07:15 00:07:19 the subjects very well. I hope that we are all going to
00:07:19 00:07:23 work together like the good little cogwheels in a Swiss
00:07:23 00:07:26 watch or Swiss movement. That was my introduction.
00:07:26 00:07:30 Now, I will simply lubricate the wheels and the cogs as
00:07:30 00:07:34 moderator and will shed light on this dream team of a panel. I
00:07:34 00:07:37 hope you will be able to applaud and welcome the
00:07:37 00:07:41 primus inter pares of the Swiss, the very young but very
00:07:41 00:07:44 experienced president of the Swiss National Council, the
00:07:44 00:07:47 lower chamber of the Swiss Parliament.
00:07:47 00:07:51 I am going to be very neutral and I proceed by alphabetical
00:07:51 00:07:54 order. We have one of the most read and highly reputed
00:07:54 00:07:58 historians, the Scot who teaches in Harvard, the
00:07:58 00:08:01 economic historian, Niall Ferguson, ladies and
00:08:01 00:08:03 gentlemen. Governmental Switzerland is
00:08:03 00:08:07 represented by no less than the permanent representative of our
00:08:07 00:08:11 country at the UN, Mr. Peter Maurer. One big issue that we
00:08:11 00:08:15 want to talk about today is how are we seen from the outside,
00:08:15 00:08:19 and who else could assess this any better than the man who
00:08:19 00:08:23 writes for the favorite daily of the world elite, the Financial
00:08:23 00:08:27 Times, and reports about Switzerland and studied
00:08:27 00:08:30 philosophy, politics, and economics at the University of
00:08:30 00:08:34 Oxford and has written his dissertation on German and
00:08:34 00:08:38 French politics and has written for the Financial Times in
00:08:38 00:08:40 various cities, Mr. Haig Simonian.
00:08:40 00:08:44 And last but not least of all, coming from the most refined
00:08:44 00:08:48 of Swiss universities, the university of economics at the
00:08:48 00:08:51 theoretical level, the (inaudible) (10:43) producing
00:08:51 00:08:55 future executives, deputy director of the Institute for
00:08:55 00:08:59 Ethics in Economics from the University of St. Gallen, Ulrich
00:08:59 00:09:01 Thielemann. First question, to Pascale
00:09:02 00:09:06 Bruderer, what comes to your mind first of all when you think
00:09:06 00:09:09 of Scotland just spontaneously? Well, a wonderful language
00:09:09 00:09:13 that I can hardly understand, even though I do speak
00:09:13 00:09:17 English. It's a bit like Swiss German. And then pastures and
00:09:17 00:09:21 the clich�, you wanted to hear that, the stingy Scotsman, even
00:09:21 00:09:24 too stingy to wear underwear at times.
00:09:24 00:09:28 What about the music the Scots play? Is that another clich�? Do
00:09:28 00:09:31 you still speak German? You wrote a book at the time you
00:09:32 00:09:35 lived in Hamburg. It's a bit difficult for me to
00:09:35 00:09:38 speak German but I'll try. Tell me if I make too many
00:09:38 00:09:41 mistakes. Well, what did come to your
00:09:41 00:09:44 mind first when you thought of Switzerland? Not cuckoo
00:09:44 00:09:47 clocks. For a historian, the history of
00:09:47 00:09:51 this country is very interesting and also very important. When
00:09:51 00:09:55 I was still studying in Oxford and was teaching in Oxford, I
00:09:55 00:09:59 didn't quite understand why we were teaching or learning so
00:09:59 00:10:03 little about Switzerland. Italy, Germany, France but hardly
00:10:03 00:10:07 anything about Switzerland. Does it mean that no one was
00:10:07 00:10:09 really interested in Switzerland?
00:10:09 00:10:12 Yes, that may be one answer. It's really strange if one
00:10:12 00:10:16 thought about it at all. Religion was very important in
00:10:16 00:10:20 Switzerland. I think of John Calvin. Calvinism is extremely
00:10:20 00:10:24 important in European history. Max Huber's theory, for
00:10:24 00:10:27 example, of the partisan ethic, that's very much linked to
00:10:28 00:10:31 Calvin and for economic histories, Switzerland is also
00:10:31 00:10:35 very important. But why does the Western world not really
00:10:35 00:10:38 show any interest in Switzerland? I don't know. No
00:10:38 00:10:42 explanation. But there is only one historian, Jonathan
00:10:42 00:10:45 Steinberg, who has written a book about the history of
00:10:45 00:10:49 Switzerland. I really have no other explanation. As an
00:10:49 00:10:53 economic historian, it's quite obvious Switzerland is just as
00:10:53 00:10:56 important a country as England, for example, in the
00:10:57 00:11:00 context of the history of the Industrial Revolution, and we
00:11:00 00:11:05 need to study it more. We have to take it seriously and we are
00:11:05 00:11:09 not taking it seriously. You just think some peasants who are
00:11:09 00:11:11 doing their work. What about the other
00:11:11 00:11:15 intellectual that was trained in Oxford, Mr. Thielemann? Was
00:11:15 00:11:17 there any interest in Switzerland?
00:11:17 00:11:21 No, not at all. The only thing that we think of about
00:11:21 00:11:25 Switzerland is tourism and chocolates and happy cars and
00:11:25 00:11:29 that's about the limits of my knowledge or was when I came
00:11:29 00:11:32 to Switzerland six years ago. Do you have any explanation
00:11:32 00:11:35 why Switzerland seems to be under the radar?
00:11:35 00:11:39 Well, there are several reasons. Switzerland is quite small,
00:11:39 00:11:43 plus/minus seven million inhabitants, very neutral, no
00:11:43 00:11:46 major wars, not much destruction, no great battles. I
00:11:46 00:11:49 think that's -- So no drama, no tragedies so
00:11:49 00:11:53 no subject? Now, Mrs. Bruderer, you are the first
00:11:53 00:11:57 amongst all Swiss citizens, but it's a bit like the Tall Poppy
00:11:57 00:12:01 Syndrome in Switzerland. You cut off the heads that seem to
00:12:01 00:12:03 be greater. Well, I'm only six feet tall. I
00:12:04 00:12:07 am not the highest or the tallest. In French, it's just we
00:12:07 00:12:12 say the French of all citizens. I think that is very appropriate.
00:12:12 00:12:16 The Swiss would like to have a president of the Parliament
00:12:16 00:12:19 who is very close to the population. Yes, this is very
00:12:19 00:12:23 clear in the Swiss Sunday newspapers and we just heard
00:12:23 00:12:27 that what is not commensurate with pragmatism is not fair for
00:12:27 00:12:31 human justice. And I think the forum is very good about
00:12:31 00:12:34 showing this by organizing this debate here today.
00:12:34 00:12:38 So the official Switzerland is not represented by you but by
00:12:38 00:12:42 the representative at the UN, the representative of the
00:12:42 00:12:45 government of Switzerland in UN. But you have already met
00:12:45 00:12:49 other presidents of other national parliaments. You've
00:12:49 00:12:52 met the president of the Hungarian Parliament?
00:12:52 00:12:56 Yes, that's right, and also the representative of the Saudi
00:12:56 00:13:00 Arabian Parliament, because the president will be visiting
00:13:00 00:13:03 Switzerland in a short while. So I keep hearing from
00:13:03 00:13:07 everyone that Switzerland can really play an important role at
00:13:07 00:13:11 the international level as a mediator. After the decision
00:13:11 00:13:15 taken about the minarets in Switzerland, it doesn't mean or
00:13:15 00:13:19 didn't mean that all the negotiations or talks only went
00:13:19 00:13:22 in that direction, but Switzerland is seen as a force
00:13:22 00:13:26 to be countered with at the international level. At least,
00:13:26 00:13:30 that is what people tell me when I meet them and when we
00:13:30 00:13:33 talk about the role of Switzerland. I also followed
00:13:33 00:13:37 with very much interest what has been said at -- no one has
00:13:37 00:13:41 said that Switzerland isn't important but it's simply not
00:13:41 00:13:45 noticed. It isn't noticed enough. People don't come up to you
00:13:45 00:13:48 and say, "I'm so happy to be in Swaziland?"
00:13:48 00:13:52 No, usually, it's Sweden. Sweden is often mistaken for
00:13:52 00:13:54 Switzerland. Now, before I turn to Mr.
00:13:54 00:13:58 Maurer, Mr. Thielemann, you teach in Switzerland but you
00:13:58 00:14:02 come from Germany. There is a very interesting relationship
00:14:02 00:14:05 between Switzerland and Germany. It makes you laugh
00:14:05 00:14:09 but that's also quite interesting. How are we perceived in
00:14:09 00:14:12 Germany? As the sweet little neighbor?
00:14:12 00:14:15 No, I really can't tell you because I've been living in
00:14:15 00:14:19 Switzerland for too long. There is a blend of that. Switzerland
00:14:20 00:14:23 is simply too small to be perceived but it is perceived as
00:14:23 00:14:27 a very strange country from various points of views. It's not
00:14:28 00:14:31 a member of the EU. It speaks nearly the same language as in
00:14:32 00:14:35 the country that I come from, the big neighbor. So I don't
00:14:35 00:14:40 really know what the picture, the image is. It's contradictory.
00:14:40 00:14:43 There is the banking secrecy that plays a role, then the
00:14:43 00:14:47 tradition of projecting and defending human rights,
00:14:47 00:14:50 Geneva, the Red Cross. Everyone knows that the Red
00:14:50 00:14:53 Cross has its origin in Switzerland, so it's a very
00:14:53 00:14:56 ambivalent image. And that's not just seen by
00:14:56 00:15:00 specialists and the elite. It's also the man in the street?
00:15:00 00:15:04 Yes, yes. I think everyone knows that the Red Cross
00:15:04 00:15:07 comes from Switzerland. Everyone knows that the UN
00:15:07 00:15:11 has some headquarters in Geneva so it's an ambivalent
00:15:11 00:15:14 image, perception. Well, we'll take account of
00:15:14 00:15:18 that. Now, Mr. Maurer, you are just one out of 193 countries
00:15:18 00:15:22 represented at the UN and how are you perceived by the other
00:15:22 00:15:25 representatives at the UN? Is this a country that produces
00:15:26 00:15:29 cuckoo clocks or not? No, Switzerland does have its
00:15:29 00:15:33 political profile at the UN. It is perceived as a country only to
00:15:33 00:15:37 the extent that it contributes to the work done at the UN,
00:15:37 00:15:41 contributes to help solving problems that are debated at the
00:15:41 00:15:45 UN to promote peace and security, humanitarian aid, or
00:15:45 00:15:49 protection of the environment. Is this a positive perception?
00:15:49 00:15:52 Yes, this is a positive perception because it has its
00:15:52 00:15:56 policies, because it does contribute to solving these
00:15:56 00:15:59 problems. We are esteemed by the 193 other UN members.
00:15:59 00:16:03 Okay, debate over, problem solved. But is there a problem
00:16:03 00:16:07 or not? I'm sure that Switzerland is either perceived
00:16:07 00:16:11 in different ways or not perceived at all. We'll see that
00:16:11 00:16:14 depending on the circumstances. But would you
00:16:14 00:16:17 say that there is a problem, Mrs. Bruderer, because of the
00:16:17 00:16:21 banking secrecy, for example? You're really specifically
00:16:21 00:16:25 mentioning the banking secrecy and not just in general terms?
00:16:25 00:16:29 Yes, there's something to that. I think we need to -- we owe
00:16:29 00:16:33 explanations to the outside world regarding the banking
00:16:33 00:16:37 secrecy. There is a reproach made. We haven't really done
00:16:37 00:16:40 very much enough about it. There are certain voices that
00:16:40 00:16:44 have been speaking out against the banking secrecy.
00:16:44 00:16:46 One of the voices is yours, right?
00:16:46 00:16:50 No, I don't think you can say that. But it's mainly the left
00:16:50 00:16:54 that has spoken out very clearly against the banking secrecy and
00:16:54 00:16:58 there is also this debate about tax evasion and fraud. Had one
00:16:59 00:17:02 spoken about that a few years ago, one would have not been
00:17:02 00:17:06 seen very positively in Switzerland. Our early warning
00:17:06 00:17:10 system in Switzerland has to come into operation better so
00:17:10 00:17:14 that we don't have to defend ourselves and do it from a
00:17:14 00:17:17 corner with our backs to the wall. We need to react much
00:17:17 00:17:20 more early. Mr. Simonian, you have been
00:17:20 00:17:24 observing us for very many years. Do you feel that this is a
00:17:24 00:17:27 discussion that is being swept under the carpet?
00:17:27 00:17:31 No, I wouldn't say so. I agree with Mrs. Bruderer. The
00:17:31 00:17:35 banking secrecy is not only important for one sector of the
00:17:35 00:17:38 economy but for the entire economy. For decades, maybe
00:17:38 00:17:42 cheap capital has been banked in Switzerland and has been
00:17:42 00:17:46 used for the Swiss economy. Now, the Swiss banks in this
00:17:46 00:17:49 phase of transition have to find a different solution.
00:17:49 00:17:53 Unfortunately, the politicians have not found a solution. They
00:17:53 00:17:58 failed and it's going to be very interesting to see what solution
00:17:58 00:18:01 the bankers will come up with because they have failed.
00:18:01 00:18:05 Can you say that the bankers and the politicians have failed?
00:18:06 00:18:08 No, it's the government that has failed.
00:18:08 00:18:12 Now, why? Why is that? Well, first of all, I want to
00:18:12 00:18:16 make it quite clear that I am not the government and I am a
00:18:16 00:18:19 representative of the government and I really am
00:18:19 00:18:23 more part of the administration. I agree with Mrs. Bruderer,
00:18:23 00:18:26 many voices and people have warned us not only in
00:18:26 00:18:30 Switzerland but outside of the country and many who used to
00:18:30 00:18:33 defend the banking secrecy have now changed their
00:18:33 00:18:37 position and have invited us to change our position, for many
00:18:37 00:18:41 of the Swiss representatives working throughout the world
00:18:41 00:18:44 have noticed that this acceptance is dwindling.
00:18:44 00:18:48 The profile of a country depends very much also on
00:18:48 00:18:52 how a country is perceived, and this is particularly so for a
00:18:52 00:18:56 small country like Switzerland that needs to be perceived very
00:18:56 00:18:59 clearly. That's part of the reality and one has to
00:18:59 00:19:03 understand in Switzerland that abroad, these subjects are
00:19:03 00:19:06 simply not accepted in the same way as they are in
00:19:06 00:19:10 Switzerland so there is this gap between self perception and
00:19:10 00:19:14 perception on the outside. Mr. Ferguson, you are the guru
00:19:14 00:19:18 worldwide when it comes to the attitude a country has to
00:19:18 00:19:22 money to finance, and you've also said this very clearly in the
00:19:22 00:19:26 book you wrote, the role of money. Someone said that if a
00:19:26 00:19:30 banker, a Swiss banker -- if you see a Swiss banker jumping out
00:19:30 00:19:34 of the window, jump after him because there is some money to
00:19:34 00:19:38 be made out of it. Would you agree that Switzerland is only
00:19:38 00:19:41 intent on money? Yes, to some extent, especially
00:19:41 00:19:45 if the banker is employed by the UBS. Well, maybe he will
00:19:45 00:19:49 jump out of the window for other reasons. A year ago, I
00:19:49 00:19:53 would have said that the Swiss model was in danger, was very
00:19:53 00:19:56 weak. This was at the time when everyone was talking
00:19:56 00:20:00 about a world order. The G20 was in a position of laying
00:20:00 00:20:04 down the rules or changing the rules of the financial world
00:20:04 00:20:06 order. Now, in the last two months,
00:20:06 00:20:10 the situation has changed again. In the U.S. and in Great
00:20:10 00:20:13 Britain, governments are diverging. They're going into
00:20:13 00:20:17 different directions and this means that Switzerland has a
00:20:17 00:20:21 possibility of simply maintaining the status quo. If
00:20:21 00:20:25 the international system is not modified, nothing will change,
00:20:25 00:20:29 then Switzerland will simply maintain the status quo. In fact,
00:20:29 00:20:33 there are only three important international financial centers:
00:20:33 00:20:36 New York, London, and Switzerland. If London and
00:20:36 00:20:40 New York agree about something, if they agree that
00:20:40 00:20:43 the system has to be changed, then Switzerland has no
00:20:43 00:20:46 alternative. It will have to follow suit.
00:20:46 00:20:50 But London and New York are not in agreement so this is an
00:20:50 00:20:54 opportunity for Switzerland. I think we are talking about
00:20:54 00:20:58 Switzerland but the problem is much bigger than Switzerland.
00:20:58 00:21:01 Yesterday, I listened very carefully to what was said at
00:21:01 00:21:05 the opening session of the World Economic Forum and
00:21:05 00:21:09 everyone was saying we have to pull on the same or we all
00:21:09 00:21:12 have to go in the same direction. We have to make
00:21:12 00:21:16 sure that there are certain rules, but you are not very optimistic,
00:21:16 00:21:18 no? No, I'm rather pessimistic.
00:21:18 00:21:21 After the disaster in Massachusetts where a
00:21:21 00:21:25 Republican has taken the seat of the Democrats, there seems
00:21:25 00:21:29 to be a bit of a wind of panic blowing through Washington.
00:21:29 00:21:33 There was an urge to change the rules but this seems to have
00:21:33 00:21:37 changed. They may still be changed but the government of
00:21:37 00:21:40 the UK has gone off into a different direction.
00:21:40 00:21:44 And Switzerland can then be an opportunist and make use of
00:21:44 00:21:47 this situation? Yes, yes, it's very unfortunate
00:21:47 00:21:50 because we need an international solution if we
00:21:50 00:21:54 want to maintain or restore the financial order and the
00:21:54 00:21:57 possibility is dwindling. So if nothing changes, we'll
00:21:57 00:22:00 stay where we are? Well, I don't think that the
00:22:00 00:22:04 Swiss government intends to use the discrepancies that are
00:22:04 00:22:08 existing in the different positions. Maybe these are just
00:22:08 00:22:12 temporary. I think we can take time and during this time, we
00:22:12 00:22:16 can ensure that we can change the way we act so that the
00:22:16 00:22:19 transition to a regulatory environment, which is
00:22:19 00:22:22 improved, can go ahead smoothly. So I don't think
00:22:22 00:22:26 there is a fundamental problem in that. I think it's just a
00:22:26 00:22:30 question of time. The Swiss government has to use this time
00:22:30 00:22:35 intelligently in order to ensure that it can place itself better as
00:22:35 00:22:39 a financial center in the world and ensure its integrity and its
00:22:39 00:22:42 position. Well, you're like the public in
00:22:42 00:22:45 America. You read about these battles in the paper where
00:22:45 00:22:49 Krugman, he is more on the left an economist, you're more of a
00:22:50 00:22:53 conservative academic. Well, it has little to do with
00:22:53 00:22:57 politics. It's a question of the theory. He is a Keynesian
00:22:57 00:23:00 through and through and I'm somewhat skeptical about
00:23:00 00:23:05 public debt being the solution. But you are a European liberal.
00:23:05 00:23:08 You're economically liberal from the European meaning.
00:23:08 00:23:12 Would you say that the Swiss can keep banking secrecy?
00:23:12 00:23:16 Absolutely not. No, that cannot be morally justified. It's
00:23:16 00:23:20 difficult to say whether it will survive or not. It seems that the
00:23:20 00:23:23 outlook is better than it was a year ago for that.
00:23:23 00:23:27 Mr. Thielemann, last year, you went to Berlin to the
00:23:27 00:23:30 Committee of the Bundestag where there were discussions
00:23:31 00:23:34 relating to banking secrecy. You raised a lot of criticisms
00:23:34 00:23:38 about Switzerland. Why? Did you think it was so morally
00:23:38 00:23:41 wrong that you had to read your host of rights?
00:23:41 00:23:44 No, it was a complete misunderstanding. I didn't
00:23:44 00:23:48 speak about my own views. I was invited by the Finance
00:23:48 00:23:52 Committee of the Bundestag. That was a great opportunity.
00:23:52 00:23:56 The banking secrecy that was discussed was between the tax
00:23:56 00:23:59 authorities so I was speaking about that. When this
00:23:59 00:24:03 discussion began to be heard in Switzerland, we were familiar
00:24:03 00:24:07 with the arguments and there was very little discussion. Very
00:24:07 00:24:11 little was taken seriously. We heard some very farfetched
00:24:11 00:24:15 arguments. It's good that the discussion took place but the
00:24:15 00:24:19 committee that I went to was not a public committee and
00:24:19 00:24:22 then the question was put to me of whether I felt it was
00:24:22 00:24:26 necessary that Germany should make a law which would
00:24:26 00:24:30 provide for sanctions for tax havens like Switzerland. And I
00:24:30 00:24:33 said that that would be necessary because for a place
00:24:33 00:24:37 like Switzerland, there is no understanding of the problems.
00:24:37 00:24:42 There is no understanding and I think that the dominant part of
00:24:42 00:24:45 the political elite have not come to the understanding. It
00:24:46 00:24:49 has very little to do with Switzerland but rather a
00:24:49 00:24:53 libertarian economic viewpoint. It's a -- if you like a moral
00:24:53 00:24:57 mission, and I don't think that this is a view which can be
00:24:57 00:25:01 supported in the long term. The problem is in Switzerland,
00:25:01 00:25:04 there hasn't been a general public debate which has gone
00:25:05 00:25:08 into this question in depth. Now, the Swiss population has
00:25:08 00:25:12 clearly spoken against the question of banking secrecy.
00:25:12 00:25:16 Obviously, banking secrecy could be kept but not if it's
00:25:16 00:25:20 being used to dodge taxes. I think recent opinion polls, in
00:25:20 00:25:23 the SonntagsZeitung, for example, have shown that
00:25:23 00:25:27 result and so it's clear. It's not pleasant to say but the
00:25:27 00:25:30 government needs to openly bring this issue to public
00:25:30 00:25:33 debate. Churchill, I believe said you
00:25:33 00:25:36 can't criticize your home government while you're
00:25:36 00:25:39 abroad. You should have done it here.
00:25:39 00:25:42 Well, Mr. Thielemann said something very important and
00:25:42 00:25:46 I'd like to stress it. Banking secrecy per se can be
00:25:46 00:25:49 understood in different ways. It can be understood as the
00:25:50 00:25:53 protection of the private brains. The automatic change of
00:25:53 00:25:57 information has always been perceived negatively by the
00:25:57 00:26:00 Swiss population. But there is an important
00:26:00 00:26:04 distinction to be made between the ways in which tax are
00:26:04 00:26:07 evaded, tax evasion and tax fraud, so there are different
00:26:07 00:26:12 issues and the public needs to be aware that there are different
00:26:12 00:26:16 issues. And I regret the way that things have been done. It's
00:26:16 00:26:19 not a question of eliminating banking secrecy but simply
00:26:19 00:26:23 eliminating those elements which are not justifiable and
00:26:23 00:26:27 which are now under pressure. But the actual protection of the
00:26:27 00:26:31 privates here is not in question. Now, what getting rid of
00:26:31 00:26:35 banking secrecy means is misunderstood. It's as if all of a
00:26:35 00:26:39 sudden, you could read people's bank accounts in the
00:26:39 00:26:42 newspapers. Now, we are simply talking about relating to
00:26:42 00:26:46 other tax authorities who are themselves subjected to
00:26:46 00:26:49 secrecy. So people lose sight of the issues.
00:26:49 00:26:51 What does the Financial Times think?
00:26:51 00:26:55 I think, well, over these last few minutes, we've seen the
00:26:55 00:26:59 ambiguity here. We talked about two different elements
00:26:59 00:27:02 and I must say that I, too, am divided on this. On the one
00:27:03 00:27:06 hand, I cannot support tax evasion and in the Financial
00:27:06 00:27:10 Times, we would never do that. Particularly today when so
00:27:10 00:27:14 many states are in such desperate need of revenues, it's
00:27:14 00:27:18 even less justifiable today than it was in the past. But what
00:27:18 00:27:21 about active protection? I believe that we have right to
00:27:22 00:27:25 our private data. Obviously, there are situations
00:27:25 00:27:29 where you need to give your information to third parties,
00:27:29 00:27:32 doctors in criminal cases, for example, but do I want some
00:27:32 00:27:36 kind of Big Brother? Obviously not. And what we all fear is
00:27:36 00:27:41 that our tax authorities, who are interested in our capital and
00:27:41 00:27:44 income revenues, may take upon themselves some of this
00:27:44 00:27:47 Big Brother role. Maybe people in England
00:27:47 00:27:51 respect the fact that the Swiss defend themselves against the
00:27:51 00:27:54 state. Well, I wouldn't just go that far
00:27:54 00:27:58 but England does have a long liberal tradition. As you know,
00:27:58 00:28:02 we have no personal identity cards. We only have a passport.
00:28:02 00:28:06 This is one perspective of the unique British character. But I
00:28:06 00:28:09 think there would be an understanding not for the Swiss
00:28:09 00:28:14 system per se but the fact that a country could choose its own
00:28:14 00:28:16 path. If Switzerland, Mr. Ferguson,
00:28:16 00:28:20 has these conflicts with other countries, is it only going to get
00:28:20 00:28:23 a bad image with the governments or with the
00:28:23 00:28:27 people, the man in the street, and the public at large?
00:28:27 00:28:31 Well, I think it is a problem which goes beyond the views
00:28:31 00:28:34 of the government. I don't know how broad the discussion
00:28:34 00:28:38 that took place here was but when books came out about
00:28:38 00:28:41 Switzerland's role in the Second World War, Harold
00:28:41 00:28:45 James' book on the role of the Deutsche Bank and the gold
00:28:45 00:28:49 operations of Deutsche bank in Switzerland in the Second
00:28:49 00:28:52 World War, now, when that book was published, it left a
00:28:52 00:28:57 bad impression of Switzerland. So it seemed that Swiss utility
00:28:57 00:29:01 had no financial dimension and it certainly played an important
00:29:01 00:29:04 role for me as a historian. And does it cause any damage
00:29:05 00:29:08 to people like us less? Well, it is a problem, one of
00:29:08 00:29:12 many. As I was walking here today, I met Paul Collier, the
00:29:12 00:29:16 most famous economist for Africa in England, if not the
00:29:16 00:29:19 world, and he wrote a book called The Bottom Billion,
00:29:19 00:29:23 which was a book that clearly stated a very important
00:29:23 00:29:26 question. How much of the money which is given to Africa
00:29:26 00:29:30 has actually ended up in Swiss bank accounts? That's an
00:29:30 00:29:34 important question. If people in England or America are talking
00:29:34 00:29:38 about Switzerland, questions like that always come up.
00:29:38 00:29:42 Hmm, so that's poisonous, isn't it? I mean even the organizers
00:29:42 00:29:46 here asked whether we were a rogue state in the program for
00:29:46 00:29:50 the open forum. Now, that's a question. Are we a rogue state?
00:29:50 00:29:53 Lenin said that we were the world's -- that we were
00:29:53 00:29:57 something similar. Is that a problem? Is that something that
00:29:57 00:30:01 could impact us at the UN? Well, we're a multifaceted
00:30:01 00:30:05 country and we have many different activities and I don't
00:30:05 00:30:09 think we can say that the image of Switzerland is one thing
00:30:09 00:30:13 alone. I think it's multifaceted as well. If we're talking about
00:30:13 00:30:17 banking secrecy, then we have a problem of recognition in
00:30:17 00:30:20 different industrialized countries and we also have a
00:30:20 00:30:24 problem of what was just talked about a moment, with
00:30:24 00:30:27 money from other countries ending up in Swiss bank
00:30:27 00:30:29 accounts. But we also have to ask the
00:30:29 00:30:33 question about what is the attractiveness of the banking
00:30:33 00:30:36 secrecy and why are they leaving other countries?
00:30:36 00:30:40 Because of bad governance, because of bad conditions.
00:30:40 00:30:44 If I can be very strict about this, there are very few
00:30:44 00:30:47 countries who allow themselves to influence the
00:30:47 00:30:50 autonomy of other countries who don't recognize the
00:30:50 00:30:54 autonomy, and Switzerland hasn't recognized that it is
00:30:54 00:30:58 different from other countries in the way that it adopts an
00:30:58 00:31:01 authentic position. Now, you, I understand that
00:31:01 00:31:04 you are representing the government but I'm surprised
00:31:04 00:31:08 that you don't recognize the problems of the other positions
00:31:08 00:31:12 that are being argued for. I think it is unbelievable to say
00:31:12 00:31:16 that it's legitimate to influence the tax autonomy of other
00:31:16 00:31:20 countries because their taxes are too high. It's actually
00:31:20 00:31:23 undermining the autonomy of other countries. The
00:31:23 00:31:27 international community needs, as a whole, including
00:31:27 00:31:30 Switzerland, to recognize legitimate tax autonomy of
00:31:30 00:31:33 other countries. Well, I think that you can
00:31:33 00:31:37 harmonize taxes at the international level. I think the
00:31:37 00:31:41 international level is the way forward. There are pull and
00:31:41 00:31:44 push factors of the banking secrecy but these questions are
00:31:45 00:31:48 legitimate and we need to ask them, and the good governance
00:31:48 00:31:51 question needs to be asked as well.
00:31:51 00:31:54 How do you ask the question in the Financial Times?
00:31:54 00:31:58 We're a country that is not sufficiently aware of what's
00:31:58 00:32:02 going on elsewhere. Well, there are two different parts. One is
00:32:02 00:32:06 that we look at the example of the Geneva bankers who say
00:32:06 00:32:10 that they are in the fifth or sixth generation of Geneva bankers.
00:32:10 00:32:14 It's very difficult to convince these people that what worked
00:32:14 00:32:18 five generations ago, 100 years ago doesn't necessarily work
00:32:18 00:32:22 today. They say that their ancestors bought back money
00:32:22 00:32:25 from an African country because it was suffering from
00:32:25 00:32:29 inflation and bad governance so it was quite justified taking
00:32:29 00:32:33 money from Jewish survivors as well, and it's as if that
00:32:33 00:32:38 morality is still justified today. It's obviously very difficult in
00:32:38 00:32:41 that way to describe the situation fully because we are
00:32:41 00:32:45 facing that kind of mentality from Geneva and Zurich
00:32:45 00:32:47 bankers. Now, the other way is
00:32:47 00:32:51 whistleblowers, people who will pass on information. UBS,
00:32:51 00:32:54 as Mr. Ferguson mentioned, is one of the best examples of
00:32:54 00:32:58 most recent years. So there have been examples in
00:32:58 00:33:02 Liechtenstein where employees of not a particularly senior
00:33:02 00:33:05 position but who were in sensitive positions stole
00:33:05 00:33:09 information and then sold it, in one case, directed to the
00:33:09 00:33:13 German authorities and another attempt failed to sell it to the
00:33:13 00:33:17 German authorities and a third attempt again to the French
00:33:17 00:33:21 authorities. So it's possible to use whistleblowers to find out
00:33:21 00:33:24 what's going on. Can I bring up another point
00:33:24 00:33:28 which I think is important to me as a diplomat? We've said
00:33:28 00:33:32 that governments have failed to recognize in time that our
00:33:32 00:33:35 understanding of banking secrecy, of the understanding
00:33:35 00:33:39 of banking secrecy is predominantly negative. Now,
00:33:39 00:33:43 there is a discrepancy between external and internal views and
00:33:43 00:33:47 the challenge of domestic political positions and beliefs is
00:33:47 00:33:51 very difficult to bring in to line with the views that are held
00:33:51 00:33:55 abroad. Every country has its issues which it has difficulty
00:33:55 00:33:57 discussing with its foreign partners.
00:33:58 00:34:01 The democratic process in our countries can be used to
00:34:01 00:34:05 express the positions and then it's up to diplomacy to
00:34:05 00:34:08 communicate those abroad so that we can find solutions to
00:34:09 00:34:12 national and international trends and try and bridge the
00:34:12 00:34:16 discrepancies and the divergences. And then we have
00:34:16 00:34:20 multilateral agencies like the UN, for example, where there
00:34:20 00:34:23 are economic and political bodies where it is possible to
00:34:23 00:34:27 express your own positions, to listen to other positions, and
00:34:27 00:34:31 understand one another. Now, it's very difficult for the
00:34:31 00:34:35 politicians, which has the public on its back. The public
00:34:35 00:34:39 in Switzerland, they're very powerful and we have direct
00:34:39 00:34:43 democracy so it's very difficult for the government to deal with
00:34:43 00:34:46 such issues. Well, it's difficult but it's very
00:34:46 00:34:50 exciting. We have to have direct contact with the Swiss
00:34:50 00:34:54 people and I believe that that's right because it compels us.
00:34:54 00:34:57 And as politicians, I can't speak on behalf of the
00:34:57 00:35:01 government but we have to constantly reflect about our
00:35:01 00:35:05 conduct, about our actions, and we also need to think about
00:35:05 00:35:08 whether we're being understood, and I think that
00:35:08 00:35:11 that's a crucial element which we cannot go without.
00:35:11 00:35:15 And then I'd like to touch upon another point because we have
00:35:15 00:35:19 financial experts here. I think that in Switzerland, we have
00:35:19 00:35:23 obviously an important financial center. We have
00:35:23 00:35:26 know-how. We have other advantages, which means that
00:35:26 00:35:30 we can be very optimistic about the future without necessarily
00:35:30 00:35:32 worrying about banking secrecy.
00:35:32 00:35:36 Well, yes, obviously, and over the next two years, we will see
00:35:36 00:35:40 a lot of negotiations about banking secrecy will be
00:35:40 00:35:44 reduced. But the Swiss, Switzerland itself as a financial
00:35:44 00:35:48 center is certainly not on the way out. It just has to be quite
00:35:48 00:35:52 clever in its marketing so that it can sell its virtues. It's a long
00:35:52 00:35:55 and convincing list but that's your job.
00:35:55 00:35:59 Yes, well, that's our job. I believe that too. Can I ask
00:35:59 00:36:02 another reply to Mr. Thielemann because he didn't
00:36:02 00:36:04 really find my question legitimate?
00:36:04 00:36:09 I think that the problem that we face is that the questions that
00:36:09 00:36:13 we're talking about might not be ethically legitimate but they
00:36:13 00:36:16 are politically legitimate because it's being asked.
00:36:16 00:36:19 But what's the substance of the question?
00:36:19 00:36:23 Once question comes up in politics, a legitimate question.
00:36:23 00:36:26 Well, you're saying good governance is legitimate basis
00:36:27 00:36:30 for Switzerland refusing the exchange of information.
00:36:30 00:36:34 Well, what I said was that if we're talking about banking
00:36:34 00:36:37 secrecy, then we cannot just discuss banking secrecy
00:36:37 00:36:41 attracting flight money but we have to ask at the same time
00:36:41 00:36:45 why this money is in flight, why it's leaving countries and
00:36:45 00:36:47 coming to Swiss bank accounts.
00:36:47 00:36:51 Well, if you look at Germany, the tax burden is lower than at
00:36:51 00:36:54 Switzerland. Middle-sized companies are suffering
00:36:55 00:36:59 because there isn't a -- it's not possible to raise taxes to a
00:36:59 00:37:03 certain level because there are tax havens such as Switzerland.
00:37:03 00:37:07 But if this were to be allowed, then it would have to be put on
00:37:07 00:37:10 to a frozen account and certainly not serve
00:37:10 00:37:14 Switzerland's own interest and I'm sure that you'd agree with
00:37:14 00:37:18 that. You have a moral duty. I said it was legitimate to put
00:37:18 00:37:22 the question and to ask about the two aspects or factors. If
00:37:22 00:37:26 you look at it historically, fiscal competition is practiced in
00:37:26 00:37:30 Switzerland. It's also articulated by politicians, well,
00:37:30 00:37:34 with also an internal kind of emigration and variations and
00:37:34 00:37:38 differences in -- counter differences. I'm just trying to
00:37:38 00:37:40 explain why it is a legitimate question.
00:37:40 00:37:44 Well, of course you can have different opinions. Franz Jaeger
00:37:44 00:37:48 would say, for example, if we are a tax oasis, then Germany is
00:37:49 00:37:52 a tax desert and that's why people want to move to the
00:37:52 00:37:54 oasis. Yes, but that's my core
00:37:54 00:37:58 question. Does a tax oasis have the right to receive money or to
00:37:58 00:38:02 tax the money that comes from abroad, from people that are
00:38:02 00:38:05 residents abroad? Does a nation have a right to
00:38:05 00:38:09 attract money magnetically from other countries?
00:38:09 00:38:13 No, not the right, not in the 21st century. That seems to be quite
00:38:13 00:38:17 clear. Does Switzerland want to have the same image as the
00:38:17 00:38:21 Cayman Islands, just to be the Cayman Islands with snow? I
00:38:21 00:38:25 think that would be strange. I think Switzerland can have
00:38:25 00:38:28 pretensions of being more than just a tax haven.
00:38:28 00:38:31 Yes, but it's very symptomatic. What's the
00:38:31 00:38:34 subject? It's misfit or model. Well, Switzerland is made up
00:38:35 00:38:38 of all sorts of pieces. There's the economy. We have a very
00:38:38 00:38:42 good position when it comes to vocational training. We are
00:38:42 00:38:46 always taking at a model and what about the health system in
00:38:46 00:38:50 the United States Switzerland always taken as a model
00:38:50 00:38:53 regarding its health system, health protection system?
00:38:53 00:38:58 But let's look at the other case that's also very interesting and
00:38:58 00:39:01 in another six minutes, I'll open up the debate to the
00:39:01 00:39:05 audience. Democracy, we haven't really spoken about
00:39:05 00:39:08 democracy. Switzerland has always been admired for its
00:39:08 00:39:12 democracy because its people can always have its say and
00:39:12 00:39:16 have a say in the decisions. Is this seen as a model, as an
00:39:16 00:39:18 example? Yes, certainly. If you think
00:39:18 00:39:22 about it, one has to admit that Switzerland is a bit of a
00:39:22 00:39:26 miracle. There's a very strange blend of minorities. Other
00:39:26 00:39:30 countries have always had problems with these ethnic
00:39:30 00:39:33 groups. I've written a book about War of the World, and
00:39:33 00:39:37 Switzerland really is an exception in European history
00:39:37 00:39:40 so this is really much more important than pure
00:39:40 00:39:44 democracy, is this coexistence between those who speak
00:39:44 00:39:47 German and French and the other languages, and that's
00:39:47 00:39:49 really an example for the world.
00:39:49 00:39:53 So have we found the panacea? Have you described or started
00:39:53 00:39:56 the formula? I don't know whether you have
00:39:56 00:39:59 but it has to be started by historians.
00:39:59 00:40:02 Then there is another problem because this democracy has
00:40:02 00:40:06 decided something that has not really been accepted by the rest
00:40:07 00:40:10 of the world because it didn't seem to be very democratic.
00:40:10 00:40:14 Were you beaten on the next day at the UN and the next day
00:40:14 00:40:18 of this vote in Switzerland? No, no one hit me but in this
00:40:18 00:40:22 community of 193 nations where the Islamic countries
00:40:22 00:40:25 have such a great weight, the perception was very negative,
00:40:26 00:40:29 the perception that these other countries had of Switzerland
00:40:30 00:40:33 after the vote about the minarets. However, one also
00:40:33 00:40:37 has to take the historic stance and understand that in
00:40:37 00:40:40 Switzerland, direct democracy has existed for decades and
00:40:40 00:40:44 centuries, has created a very special system guaranteeing
00:40:44 00:40:47 wellbeing and economic development and prosperity.
00:40:48 00:40:51 Even though there may have been one vote which one may
00:40:51 00:40:55 not agree with politically, one cannot question the whole
00:40:55 00:40:59 system, and I think that is perhaps the perception that
00:40:59 00:41:02 many of my colleagues have or have had abroad, and this is
00:41:03 00:41:06 something that can be explained. One can explain
00:41:06 00:41:10 why such votes come about and why such a decision is taken by
00:41:10 00:41:13 the people and that one shouldn't then question
00:41:13 00:41:16 fundamentally the very existence of the country. One
00:41:16 00:41:20 should not question the historical acquisitions and what
00:41:20 00:41:22 has been achieved by this system.
00:41:22 00:41:26 Direct democracy, the purpose of direct democracy is not there
00:41:26 00:41:29 to confirm simply or rubberstamp what the
00:41:29 00:41:33 Parliament has decided. Since 2001, in the case of 74 votes,
00:41:33 00:41:37 61 times, the people followed the decision of the Parliament
00:41:37 00:41:41 but then there are also the other situations. I am convinced that
00:41:41 00:41:45 it is in these cases that direct democracy has a role to play
00:41:46 00:41:50 because it simply gives voice to opinions and gives way to these
00:41:50 00:41:54 opinions, which exist in other countries but they are never
00:41:54 00:41:57 expressed because other countries simply don't have
00:41:57 00:41:59 such a system of direct democracy.
00:41:59 00:42:04 So I feel that we are fortunate that I belong to those and in the
00:42:04 00:42:08 majority of the Parliament that was against this initiative but I
00:42:08 00:42:12 would never have had the idea of saying the next day, "How
00:42:12 00:42:16 are we going to change this or correct it?" but rather ask
00:42:16 00:42:20 ourselves, "Why didn't we know or realize beforehand that
00:42:20 00:42:23 this vote would go the way it did? So it's a very, very
00:42:23 00:42:27 interesting time because we now have to handle this
00:42:27 00:42:31 opinion, this public opinion. What are we going to do with
00:42:31 00:42:34 this? It's an appeal to the government and to the
00:42:34 00:42:38 Parliament. I am convinced that this same opinion exists in
00:42:38 00:42:42 other countries but it's simply not expressed, isn't heard.
00:42:42 00:42:46 So this is a great advantage that we have in Switzerland. It's
00:42:46 00:42:50 also a great challenge and it's a wonderful challenge for
00:42:50 00:42:54 politicians to really understand and perceive very early on in
00:42:54 00:42:58 the process what the public, what the population feels and
00:42:58 00:43:01 thinks, and this is a dialogue that exists between the
00:43:01 00:43:05 Parliament, the government, and the people before, during,
00:43:05 00:43:08 and after the vote. On the day after the vote,
00:43:08 00:43:12 walking through the corridors of the UN, there is also a great
00:43:12 00:43:16 difference between what the colleagues say officially and
00:43:16 00:43:20 what they tell me when they drink a cup of coffee with me.
00:43:20 00:43:23 Mrs. Bruderer said it very clearly. There are a large
00:43:24 00:43:27 number of countries and their representatives who know fully
00:43:28 00:43:31 well that they have the same problems as Switzerland and
00:43:31 00:43:34 that a problem here has emerged and has, in
00:43:34 00:43:38 Switzerland at least, been put on the political agenda that
00:43:38 00:43:42 perhaps hasn't been done so in other countries. I agree with
00:43:42 00:43:46 Mrs. Bruderer that it's an immense challenge for us to
00:43:46 00:43:49 explain to the rest of the world how we go about things in
00:43:50 00:43:53 Switzerland, how direct democracy functions and
00:43:53 00:43:55 operates. Who would like to put a
00:43:55 00:43:59 question from the floor? Maybe you could start raising your
00:43:59 00:44:03 hands and show if you want to participate in the discussion.
00:44:03 00:44:05 Famous last word from Mr. Simonian.
00:44:05 00:44:09 Direct democracy is a real particularity but Switzerland
00:44:09 00:44:12 has another one and this here, and we are not here at a
00:44:12 00:44:17 political meeting and I don't have the right to vote, but it is
00:44:17 00:44:21 the Swiss popular party, the SVP, as the abbreviation is in
00:44:21 00:44:24 German, is a real strange animal. I am not saying that
00:44:24 00:44:28 this vote was below the radar in the rest of the world but there
00:44:28 00:44:32 are all sorts of issues, the minarets and all the others,
00:44:32 00:44:36 Schengen, and the posters that have been produced by this
00:44:36 00:44:40 political party have played a very important part in the
00:44:40 00:44:44 perception. And this political party has really turned all these
00:44:44 00:44:47 debates into a polemic and has polarized debate.
00:44:47 00:44:51 Oh yes, on this subject, of Schengen and movement, free
00:44:51 00:44:54 movement, here, the people has voted in the right way.
00:44:55 00:44:57 Oh no, but I'm thinking of the campaigns.
00:44:57 00:45:00 Well, you mentioned the campaigns. I didn't.
00:45:00 00:45:04 Yes, sir? Please remember you have one minute only to put
00:45:04 00:45:07 your question. My name is Fernando Morales
00:45:07 00:45:11 dela Cruz, and it's very interesting to hear you talk. But
00:45:11 00:45:14 if one looks at Switzerland from outside, one would never
00:45:14 00:45:18 think that this is a small country. Even if you only have
00:45:18 00:45:22 the same amount of people as Honduras, and you have been
00:45:22 00:45:26 in the news a bit like Honduras in the last few months, one
00:45:26 00:45:30 would have to always say that you have not always (cross-
00:45:30 00:45:32 talking) -- We didn't elect the president
00:45:32 00:45:35 though so -- We didn't. Anyway, one would
00:45:35 00:45:39 have to say that you're not only liked, admired, and respected
00:45:39 00:45:43 but you're also envied, and this is something that we have to
00:45:43 00:45:47 think about because it's a competitive world out there
00:45:47 00:45:51 and there are some people who would like to eat you, not only
00:45:51 00:45:55 your chocolates and drink your milk or cheese, but they would
00:45:55 00:45:59 like to have your share of the pharmaceutical industry, your
00:45:59 00:46:02 share of the intellectual property, your share of
00:46:02 00:46:06 knowledge, and your share of patents and trademarks.
00:46:06 00:46:09 And I think beyond the financial center, which is of
00:46:09 00:46:13 course a global player, you're already a global country. The
00:46:13 00:46:17 question is being a global country, as IBM was global 15
00:46:17 00:46:21 years ago, are you willing to reinvent yourself as IBM forgot
00:46:21 00:46:25 to and perhaps you have to start to reinvent yourself while
00:46:25 00:46:29 you're still ahead because you are definitely ahead? Your
00:46:29 00:46:33 knowledge is impressive and as Mrs. Bruderer-Wyss pointed
00:46:33 00:46:36 out, your vocational schools are exceptional.
00:46:36 00:46:39 Well, a number of excellent points. It is the question of
00:46:39 00:46:44 envy. Obviously, a student who is at the top of class is likely to
00:46:44 00:46:48 be the subject of envy. Is that a historical problem? Those
00:46:48 00:46:52 countries that come top of the class are not treated friendly?
00:46:52 00:46:56 No, and that is not the problem. The problem is when you lose
00:46:56 00:47:00 your advantages that get you there, there, therein lies the
00:47:00 00:47:04 question. Is Swiss still going to be in an enviable position at the
00:47:04 00:47:08 end of this century? There is no sure answer to that because
00:47:08 00:47:11 obviously, there is an extraordinary level of
00:47:11 00:47:15 competition in the world today. After 500 years of Western
00:47:15 00:47:19 dominance, suddenly, we find that there is the possibility that
00:47:19 00:47:23 the engine of growth in the world economy, for the first
00:47:23 00:47:28 time in centuries, shifts to Asia, to India, to China. The world is
00:47:28 00:47:31 changing very quickly and Switzerland cannot stand, aside
00:47:31 00:47:36 from all of these processes, but what can you do if the whole of
00:47:36 00:47:39 the West is losing importance? Well, yes, the world is
00:47:39 00:47:43 changing. Obviously, what we need to do is change as well,
00:47:43 00:47:47 reinvent ourselves, not because we want to still be enviable.
00:47:47 00:47:51 We don't want to be envied by others but we feel that we have
00:47:51 00:47:55 a role, a voice in the world for human rights, for -- we're
00:47:55 00:47:59 serving as an intermediary between countries with
00:47:59 00:48:02 problems. That's in terms of foreign relations. And at the
00:48:02 00:48:06 domestic level, we want to be a country that works which
00:48:06 00:48:10 provides opportunity for its citizens with a good education
00:48:10 00:48:14 and health system. That's the reason why you're absolutely
00:48:14 00:48:17 right and we cannot say that there is no need for
00:48:17 00:48:20 fundamental change. I believe that there is.
00:48:20 00:48:24 I would say that we need a form of government in which
00:48:24 00:48:27 we can believe that's a legitimate question. The
00:48:27 00:48:31 Parliament believes that. I believe that. Our government is
00:48:31 00:48:35 burdened with operative tasks. Now, obviously, it needs to be
00:48:35 00:48:39 but it doesn't have the space for strategic space for strategic
00:48:39 00:48:43 considerations and planning and I think it needs this space.
00:48:43 00:48:47 It needs the time for that space and that's why we need a
00:48:47 00:48:49 reform. Yes, I agree that this is
00:48:49 00:48:53 important to stay as innovative and competitive as possible
00:48:53 00:48:57 economically and that one has to reinvent one's self
00:48:57 00:49:01 continuously. That's also true in politics. Switzerland is a
00:49:01 00:49:04 country that in the past few years has increasingly given
00:49:04 00:49:08 itself a global policy, a global profile. We have many assets.
00:49:09 00:49:11 Mrs. Bruderer has just enumerated them.
00:49:11 00:49:15 But please bear in mind the difference between IBM and
00:49:15 00:49:19 Switzerland, for example, the discrepancy between economic
00:49:19 00:49:22 globalization and political space that we have, this is
00:49:22 00:49:26 something that has to be discussed again and again fresh
00:49:26 00:49:30 and reinvented and you don't do it in the same way when you
00:49:30 00:49:34 come from IBM, a company that has board of directors and
00:49:34 00:49:37 that can position itself on the world market.
00:49:37 00:49:41 The political dynamics between integration and the political
00:49:41 00:49:45 system, the way people think and believe, their traditions and
00:49:45 00:49:49 so on, the way they experience globalization, their fears, their
00:49:49 00:49:53 expectations, this is the big challenge. But I do agree with
00:49:53 00:49:57 the question you put and your idea, I think it was very well
00:49:57 00:50:01 put. It's exactly here that one has to reinvent one's self.
00:50:01 00:50:04 Mr. Sarkozy, you saw yesterday, he said that France
00:50:04 00:50:08 can do it differently because it's a centralized state but
00:50:08 00:50:12 maybe there is no following at the popular level. When you
00:50:12 00:50:16 say that Switzerland should reinvent itself, you, Mr.
00:50:16 00:50:19 Thielemann, may say that Switzerland should do so as an
00:50:19 00:50:22 ethical example. Yes, that would be great
00:50:22 00:50:26 because Switzerland does have the potential. Just to come back
00:50:26 00:50:30 to direct democracy once more, one should work on this
00:50:30 00:50:34 democratic cultural -- I don't think that direct democracy is
00:50:34 00:50:38 simply to throw in to the voting box one's preferences. One
00:50:38 00:50:41 also has to think about this fundamentally.
00:50:41 00:50:44 I'm going to spoil the game here and question this issue of
00:50:45 00:50:48 integration. Switzerland, I don't think, will be able to
00:50:48 00:50:53 reinvent itself ethically if it just puts the economy at the center
00:50:53 00:50:56 of interest. I think the government, the state has to see
00:50:57 00:51:00 to it that cohabitation is fair and just, not only at the
00:51:00 00:51:05 national level but also at the international level, cohabitation
00:51:05 00:51:09 with other countries, and not only to see what will it give us,
00:51:09 00:51:13 what can we extract from it, what is our profit. The banking
00:51:13 00:51:17 secrecy is not just Switzerland. There are other aspects as well.
00:51:17 00:51:21 Then the gentleman at the back of the hall standing up and who
00:51:21 00:51:25 is now getting the microphone. I work in development
00:51:25 00:51:28 corporation in India and in Africa. When you talk about
00:51:28 00:51:32 minarets and the votes, one may not forget that a large
00:51:32 00:51:36 majority of the population simply said no because of the
00:51:36 00:51:40 fear of a further exporting of weapons to Pakistan, and this is
00:51:40 00:51:44 something that should be raised again in this discussion before
00:51:44 00:51:48 the vote of the 29th of November. The University of
00:51:48 00:51:52 St. Gallen fortunately has this institute of ethics in economics
00:51:52 00:51:56 and is a very interesting and has a leadership position in
00:51:56 00:52:00 making us think about ethics in the economy. There has been
00:52:00 00:52:04 some warning signals in the past. Mr. Behr (phonetic), for
00:52:04 00:52:07 example, said about banking secrecy and tax evasion and
00:52:07 00:52:11 fraud is like making a distinction between whether
00:52:11 00:52:14 one is allowed to kill one's mother or only one's mother-
00:52:14 00:52:17 in-law. Now, I have a question for Mr.
00:52:17 00:52:21 Maurer regarding the UN. The millennium goal is to half
00:52:21 00:52:24 extreme poverty by 2015, and we would like Switzerland to
00:52:24 00:52:28 do something about that because it's in our constitution.
00:52:28 00:52:32 So what are you doing to make sure that we reach this goal,
00:52:32 00:52:36 also to make sure that extreme wealth is also halved so that we
00:52:36 00:52:40 can reach this goal? Perhaps he could give us his opinion on
00:52:40 00:52:42 this. I am there to represent the
00:52:43 00:52:47 political programs and policies of the Swiss government and I
00:52:47 00:52:50 do that at the UN and you know the UN is very
00:52:50 00:52:53 committed to development cooperation both at the
00:52:53 00:52:57 practical, pragmatic, and political level. We support the
00:52:57 00:53:00 UN funds and programs. We make sure that development
00:53:00 00:53:04 and cooperation work is very effective. We do that at the
00:53:04 00:53:08 World Bank. We always look for better solutions for and in
00:53:08 00:53:11 development and cooperation work. The Millennium
00:53:11 00:53:15 Development Goals are really the yardstick for Switzerland
00:53:15 00:53:17 both in bilateral and multilateral terms.
00:53:18 00:53:21 Do you think that more should be done? Is the gentleman
00:53:21 00:53:23 right? Yes, indeed, one should do
00:53:23 00:53:27 much more towards reaching all of these goals and objectives
00:53:27 00:53:31 and it is perhaps a point of dispute. Development and
00:53:31 00:53:35 cooperation is not just a matter of transferring money.
00:53:35 00:53:38 Obviously, it's part of the development and cooperation
00:53:38 00:53:42 goals. Most of the highly industrialized countries have
00:53:42 00:53:46 not succeeded in doing this since 2000, are not actually
00:53:46 00:53:50 practicing what they preach, have not followed the rules of
00:53:50 00:53:53 the provisions. But in the development goals, it is
00:53:53 00:53:57 mentioned very clearly that the developing countries have to
00:53:57 00:54:01 make an effort when it comes to good governance and human
00:54:01 00:54:05 rights and democratic practices. So all those involved are
00:54:05 00:54:09 certainly not on course, are not in a satisfactory way, and that
00:54:09 00:54:13 is why Mr. Collier has to write this book about the billions and
00:54:13 00:54:17 unfortunately, we will not be reaching all the goals despite
00:54:17 00:54:19 the efforts. (Inaudible) (1:09:40)
00:54:20 00:54:23 Yes, we got it. We got it. We know what should be done.
00:54:23 00:54:27 Well, between knowing what has to be done and political
00:54:27 00:54:30 consensus in the community of nations, there is a big
00:54:30 00:54:34 difference. But we feel that we are one of the important
00:54:34 00:54:38 countries, as members of the UN, who are working hard on
00:54:38 00:54:42 getting this political consensus. You also put this question of
00:54:42 00:54:46 the ethical side. This is a question of justice and equal
00:54:46 00:54:50 chances, opportunities, and resources. This is something
00:54:50 00:54:53 that will overtake us if we don't find the answer to this
00:54:53 00:54:57 question. Here we are at this podium and we might have had
00:54:57 00:55:01 even greater problems at that time and we do now. The
00:55:01 00:55:04 Millennium Development Goals is something that we see
00:55:04 00:55:08 everyday. It's like a mirror we look into everyday and we
00:55:08 00:55:11 cannot avoid these problems or achieve these goals.
00:55:12 00:55:15 May I ask the Anglo-Saxons here whether for Switzerland,
00:55:15 00:55:19 this would be a USP, the unique selling position that we
00:55:19 00:55:22 are the best and the most generous state, we are
00:55:22 00:55:26 precursors, we are trailblazers in these political issues?
00:55:26 00:55:30 One has to be careful. It's not quite certain that development
00:55:30 00:55:34 aid really helps. Mr. Arroyo (phonetic) was here last year. I
00:55:34 00:55:38 know that cuckoo clock was a bit tempestuous in its ringing.
00:55:38 00:55:42 You hadn't even spoken a couple of seconds. It's not a
00:55:42 00:55:46 Swiss clock. It's a clock that was made in the Black Forest.
00:55:46 00:55:49 No, probably in China. The book entitled Dead Aid
00:55:49 00:55:53 says that before you send more millions to Africa, read this
00:55:53 00:55:56 book by Dambisa Moyo. Theory about development aid
00:55:56 00:56:00 is changing at present and it's an important change that is
00:56:00 00:56:04 happening. More can be obtained through investment
00:56:04 00:56:08 than through development aid and that, too, is a challenge for
00:56:08 00:56:10 Switzerland. Yes, but you are kind of
00:56:10 00:56:14 sidestepping the ultimate goal. You can quibble about the
00:56:14 00:56:18 method but the investments would have to be done in a
00:56:18 00:56:21 very consistent way. It's not a question of whether
00:56:21 00:56:25 Switzerland should be best or first, but Switzerland should be
00:56:25 00:56:29 able to mobilize and motivate others. Only something will
00:56:29 00:56:33 happen if everyone pulls on the same oar so Switzerland should
00:56:33 00:56:36 be a role model. I don't think that quantity is the
00:56:36 00:56:40 yardstick or the volume. It may be positive but it shouldn't
00:56:40 00:56:44 come first. If I may just respond to the gentleman who
00:56:44 00:56:48 put the first question, envy. I'm not a historian. My colleague
00:56:48 00:56:52 has the long-term perspective. I'm just the short-term
00:56:52 00:56:55 journalist who writes from today to tomorrow. I've had
00:56:55 00:56:59 contacts with those who are involved in promotional work
00:56:59 00:57:03 in the 26 cantons and they try and get companies from abroad
00:57:03 00:57:06 to come and set up in Switzerland. A big
00:57:06 00:57:10 multinational decided to move its headquarters to Geneva to
00:57:10 00:57:14 Zurich and I learned, which is just one of the examples that
00:57:14 00:57:18 used to be the host of this multinational, of course, wasn't
00:57:18 00:57:21 very happy about that so you shouldn't be too successful
00:57:21 00:57:24 either. There are many inequalities.
00:57:24 00:57:28 There are regions that are disadvantaged and others that
00:57:28 00:57:31 are at an advantage. So is fiscal competition a good thing
00:57:31 00:57:34 locally, internationally? Is it amoral?
00:57:34 00:57:38 Let's ask the ethicist. I wouldn't say that it's amoral.
00:57:38 00:57:42 What we are talking about here is not a kind of competition
00:57:42 00:57:45 that deserves the name "competition." People need to
00:57:45 00:57:49 emigrate or move from their country to another country and
00:57:49 00:57:53 therefore, it isn't legitimate. It's a competition of services or
00:57:53 00:57:57 performance. Migration of capital is another thing. But as
00:57:57 00:58:01 to this fiscal competition or competition of fiscal services,
00:58:01 00:58:05 one has to be aware you know there is a cantonal competition
00:58:05 00:58:09 but this is within a framework and it is a competition between
00:58:09 00:58:14 services and it attracts people from one country into another.
00:58:14 00:58:17 But I would agree this, even such a competition, a fiscal
00:58:17 00:58:22 competition or a competition in fiscal services is always in the
00:58:22 00:58:25 interest of higher income groups and cantonal
00:58:25 00:58:28 repayments would not change this. But one should put this
00:58:28 00:58:32 question to politicians. Why is it such a good thing this
00:58:32 00:58:36 competition between fiscal services? Maybe it's simply
00:58:36 00:58:39 because one doesn't trust cantonal governments to take
00:58:39 00:58:42 the right decisions. Mr. Maurer?
00:58:42 00:58:45 I was also going to say the following. I wouldn't give an
00:58:45 00:58:50 ethical response but for as long as it is seen in such political
00:58:50 00:58:54 terms, it's legitimate and it will simply happen. It will exist.
00:58:54 00:58:57 You mentioned the word "rules" or "laws" and I think
00:58:57 00:59:01 that is exactly the point. One has to find international rules
00:59:02 00:59:05 and legislation regarding taxation and fiscal conditions.
00:59:05 00:59:09 Even in Switzerland, there is no harmonization so internally,
00:59:09 00:59:13 there is already a lot of competition between the
00:59:13 00:59:17 cantons. I think that is the main challenge, as I mentioned
00:59:17 00:59:19 earlier on. I don't want to give the
00:59:19 00:59:23 impression that the Swiss government or administration
00:59:23 00:59:26 lives in an ivory tower and has illusions about the banking
00:59:27 00:59:30 secrecy continuing to exist in the same way for another 15
00:59:30 00:59:34 years. I think everyone has recognized that if Switzerland
00:59:34 00:59:38 wants to remain innovative and reinvent itself and remain a
00:59:38 00:59:42 financial center with a good reputation, changes have to be
00:59:42 00:59:44 made. Now, the cuckoo clock is
00:59:44 00:59:48 telling me that we have to make very short statements by
00:59:48 00:59:51 way of conclusion. Exchange of information is not
00:59:51 00:59:55 fiscal harmonization. It's a question of fiscal autonomy of
00:59:55 00:59:59 states that has to be preserved. One should have different
00:59:59 01:00:02 fiscal systems but one doesn't have to push fiscal
01:00:02 01:00:04 harmonization to such an extent.
01:00:04 01:00:08 I like my function as the president of the National
01:00:08 01:00:12 Council but it also keeps me a bit captive. The Parliament
01:00:12 01:00:16 feels that it's a good thing, but my personal opinion may be a
01:00:16 01:00:20 bit different. I'm going to express it here. I think it can
01:00:20 01:00:24 only be healthy within a certain range and this spiral which
01:00:24 01:00:28 turns askew again and again, which is something we feel in
01:00:28 01:00:31 Switzerland, we know is leading to tension and
01:00:31 01:00:35 inequalities, which is not in the interest of a healthy country.
01:00:35 01:00:39 So this is my personal opinion but officially, the Parliament is
01:00:39 01:00:43 backing this fiscal competition, but of course, the people will
01:00:43 01:00:46 decide itself what it feels about this.
01:20:46 01:20:50 Well, tax competition doesn't create inequality, that's wrong.
01:20:50 01:20:54 It's the free market economy which creates inequality.
01:20:54 01:20:58 That's how the world works. The question is if taxes is so
01:20:58 01:21:02 high, whether you are not in the name of social justice, does
01:21:02 01:21:05 growth suffer? That's the problem for all developed
01:21:05 01:21:09 countries. Order please. This is a difficult balance to strike but
01:21:10 01:21:13 fair competition does help and it protects us in England, in
01:21:14 01:21:17 particular, from this danger. The English Parliament always
01:21:17 01:21:20 has heckles as well so please let him finish.
01:21:20 01:21:24 That's all I have to say. Well, when I was here six years
01:21:24 01:21:28 ago, I had no idea that there were 26 cantons or indeed, that
01:21:28 01:21:31 there were different taxes between cantons and
01:21:31 01:21:35 communities. I live in a relatively low tax community
01:21:35 01:21:39 on the right bank of the Lake of Zurich but I live there for a
01:21:39 01:21:43 reason. People said that Zurich is 10th the size of Berlin and
01:21:43 01:21:47 you had to be careful about not having a school on one side of
01:21:47 01:21:51 the lake and your house on the other, so that's why we chose
01:21:51 01:21:55 where to live. But later, a very well known Swiss banker who
01:21:55 01:21:59 has been in charge of a well known German bank for the
01:21:59 01:22:03 last couple of years said, "We live in K�snacht and my office
01:22:03 01:22:07 is in safe health and the school is around the corner," and he
01:22:07 01:22:10 said, "Yes, it's a very good idea, low taxes."
01:22:10 01:22:14 And then one question from the person in the light blue shirt.
01:22:14 01:22:18 Well, my name is Martin Kauffer. I regret that the
01:22:18 01:22:22 discussion has avoided certain questions from representatives
01:22:22 01:22:26 of the Federation and a Swiss university. The word "banking
01:22:26 01:22:29 secrecy" was used. There is no banking secrecy. You can go
01:22:29 01:22:33 out and walk into any bank, where you will be well
01:22:33 01:22:36 received. What the secrecy is about is banking customer.
01:22:37 01:22:41 What's being protected is the private sphere of the customer.
01:22:41 01:22:45 And if I were asked, I think for a long time, the Swiss will not
01:22:45 01:22:48 want to do away with it because if it's a question of
01:22:48 01:22:52 what shares I've traded this morning, it has nothing to do
01:22:52 01:22:56 with the Tax Office. There is no tax on share price rises, no
01:22:56 01:23:00 capital gains tax. And there are many reasons for people to
01:23:00 01:23:04 come to Switzerland, not just capital flight, but also people
01:23:04 01:23:08 who have not found themselves protected by the tax authorities.
01:23:09 01:23:13 They come to Switzerland for this kind of protection of their
01:23:13 01:23:17 private sphere. I think there are many young people here today
01:23:17 01:23:20 and I think it's wrong to address these issues of banking
01:23:21 01:23:23 customer secrecy in this negative term.
01:23:23 01:23:26 I understand what you're saying. It's a semantic
01:23:26 01:23:30 question. It was just an abbreviation but you're saying
01:23:30 01:23:34 that there are good reasons for the citizens to remember the
01:23:34 01:23:36 purpose. Well, yes. And no, it is a
01:23:36 01:23:40 question of the wrong words being used. Banking secrecy is
01:23:40 01:23:44 not actually a secrecy of banking. It's banking customer
01:23:44 01:23:48 secrecy which was introduced for very good reasons and it's
01:23:48 01:23:51 your home country that wanted to do that.
01:23:51 01:23:55 I didn't say banking customer secrecy but what I did try and
01:23:55 01:23:59 do was to outline the various elements of banking secrecy or
01:23:59 01:24:02 bank customer secrecy to show that there are certain
01:24:02 01:24:06 distinctions that need to be made in the various functions
01:24:06 01:24:10 of it and I believe that for the population of Switzerland, it's
01:24:10 01:24:14 very important to clearly distinguish which areas of
01:24:14 01:24:17 banking customer secrecy are under pressure and what
01:24:17 01:24:21 changes might be made in the future, what protection of
01:24:21 01:24:24 private sphere is. We cannot spend much more
01:24:24 01:24:26 time discussing this, but very briefly.
01:24:26 01:24:30 You talked about the private sphere. I don't know why
01:24:30 01:24:33 capital income is not discriminated and revenue
01:24:33 01:24:36 income, salary income is because this is completely
01:24:36 01:24:40 transparent for taxes. Now, what cannot be done is to use
01:24:40 01:24:44 these benefits to escape the measures in other countries.
01:24:44 01:24:48 Yes, that was my point indeed and it's something that we need
01:24:48 01:24:51 to reflect upon. It brings $20 billion in revenues.
01:24:52 01:24:55 Well, we see that there is a broad range of views and it
01:24:55 01:24:59 goes from right to left or perhaps the other way around.
01:24:59 01:25:03 So final question, do we need to, and quickly, is there a fire in
01:25:03 01:25:06 the Swiss house? Well, I can't answer. I'm not a
01:25:06 01:25:10 diplomatic. I'm just talking about the ethical aspect, and
01:25:10 01:25:13 the ethical aspect is that refusing to exchange
01:25:13 01:25:16 information, under any circumstances, is not
01:25:16 01:25:20 justifiable. I think that Switzerland should stand up
01:25:20 01:25:24 and say that it is willing to do so. We have the same problem
01:25:24 01:25:28 as we did in the '70s, where the Federal Council said it's not
01:25:28 01:25:32 something that can be justified. But parts of the Swiss
01:25:32 01:25:36 population do believe that it is possible. We need to work
01:25:36 01:25:40 towards the recognition of the fact that it's illegitimate to not
01:25:40 01:25:42 exchange information. Mr. Maurer.
01:25:42 01:25:46 I think I've clearly stated what I wanted to say on this subject.
01:25:47 01:25:50 I think that bank customer secrecy, I agree absolutely with
01:25:50 01:25:54 what you said, it was purely a convenient abbreviation that I
01:25:55 01:25:58 was using. I think it's coming under international pressure.
01:25:59 01:26:02 We have a problem of perception and I think it's good
01:26:02 01:26:06 to address the issues which are being put under pressure and
01:26:06 01:26:10 look towards the future and I've hinted at what direction
01:26:10 01:26:13 that could take. Well, with regard to this
01:26:13 01:26:16 discussion, as Ambassador Maurer has said, we need to
01:26:16 01:26:20 take an active role. We can construct the way ahead and I
01:26:20 01:26:24 think that we have an important financial center and we can
01:26:24 01:26:27 participate. We can take an offensive position in the
01:26:27 01:26:31 discussions ahead and it is better to be proactive than
01:26:31 01:26:35 reactive. Apart from the points that have just been mentioned,
01:26:35 01:26:39 we also need to recognize the full width of our foreign
01:26:39 01:26:43 relations. It's not just taxes and finance. We have a very broad
01:26:43 01:26:47 range of activities. We do very good work and we do that both
01:26:47 01:26:51 externally and internally. I think internally as well,
01:26:51 01:26:55 domestic level, there are other areas. We're facing increasing
01:26:55 01:26:59 unemployment. We need to take that seriously. We need to
01:26:59 01:27:02 take the people seriously and now that we've dealt perhaps
01:27:03 01:27:07 with the urgent situation of the economy, we need to deal with
01:27:07 01:27:10 the urgent situation of people facing unemployment, and
01:27:10 01:27:13 that's the direction for our country.
01:27:13 01:27:16 A very provocative historian that we have with us today.
01:27:17 01:27:19 Perhaps you could give us a provocative tip.
01:27:19 01:27:24 Well, first of all, apologies for my German. At least I tried it.
01:27:24 01:27:28 It was very difficult. What the main question for me is, for the
01:27:28 01:27:32 future of this country, is does Switzerland belong to Europe?
01:27:32 01:27:36 We have not said anything about the European Union. I
01:27:36 01:27:40 find that very surprising. Does this country belong to Europe
01:27:40 01:27:44 or does it belong amongst the Caribbean islands or should it
01:27:44 01:27:47 go into partnership with Iceland outside Europe?
01:27:47 01:27:50 Are you talking about the membership of the EU or not
01:27:50 01:27:53 from an institutional perspective?
01:27:53 01:27:57 I just find it very surprising that we haven't mentioned it at all.
01:27:57 01:27:59 That's the main question for me.
01:27:59 01:28:02 That's something we have to think about.
01:28:02 01:28:06 Well, as the final speaker, I won't be very original but I'll
01:28:06 01:28:10 try to summarize. What makes up a country's image is very
01:28:10 01:28:14 complicated. Obviously, it's made up of multiple factors,
01:28:14 01:28:18 not just humanitarian aid or banking secrecy. Switzerland is
01:28:18 01:28:21 facing huge challenges and whether they are greater today
01:28:22 01:28:25 than they were in the past, I'm not sure because I'm not a
01:28:25 01:28:29 historian, but I do know that the challenges are major
01:28:29 01:28:32 challenges. Once, I said that the words
01:28:32 01:28:35 "imagination" and "Swiss government" are not worthy to
01:28:35 01:28:39 be seen together in the same sentence. I can only support
01:28:39 01:28:43 Mrs. Bruderer and say that Switzerland needs to use its
01:28:43 01:28:47 imagination. It needs to work proactively in order to take up
01:28:47 01:28:50 its place in the world. Thank you very much. Thank
01:28:50 01:28:54 you to the excellent panelists. Well, we need to move on. The
01:28:54 01:28:58 cuckoo clock's sellers showed imagination. I see that there is a
01:28:58 01:29:02 question to adjust here. Maybe we can adjust our democracy
01:29:02 01:29:06 and you can adjust from a cuckoo to a Big Ben (laughter),
01:29:06 01:29:10 but it's not working so we have problems in Switzerland and
01:29:10 01:29:14 it's been very exciting to talk about them all. Thank you very much.
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