Bern Lifts Weapons Ban to Emirates
Swiss Information service
Wed, 5 Jul 2006, 00:19
The government has re-opened the way for the sale of Swiss weapons to the United Arab Emirates (UAE) after lifting an export ban imposed last year. On Monday the economics ministry confirmed newspaper reports that the ban was lifted last week following a request from Economics Minister Joseph Deiss.
In August 2005 the cabinet introduced a weapons ban to the UAE following reports that 180 Swiss personnel carriers sold to the UAE and destined for Iraq would not be used for civilian purposes as agreed, thus breaching the so-called end-user certificate.
A few days later it was revealed that 40 tanks sold to the United Arab Emirates in 2004 had ended up in Morocco Ã¢â‚¬â€œ also breaching the end-user certificate. Deiss reiterated in March this year that no further business with the Gulf state was on the cards.
On Monday however a spokeswoman from the economics ministry confirmed a report in the Tages-Anzeiger newspaper that the ban was being lifted. She said this was made possible by the UAE offering a total apology for disregarding Swiss demands for guarantees that the vehicles would be deployed for civilian purposes.
For its part, the UAE talked of a misunderstanding Ã¢â‚¬â€œ it said it had obtained permission from the United States, which built the tanks, but not from the Swiss authorities to forward the tanks to Morocco.
The Swiss government added on Monday that future attempts to exports weapons to the UAE would be approved according to the usual criteria.