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GENEVA — Switzerland’s old guard, who want to keep the country “pure” and at arm’s length from the European Union, have found a new champion in Christoph Blocher, head of the archconservative Democratic Center Union.
Mr. Blocher, who last year was named minister for justice and police, has emerged as a leading voice calling for small government, reduced immigration and resistance to calls by business leaders for closer integration with the EU.
Mr. Blocher argues against any agreement that would transfer Swiss decision-making power into the hands of an appointed European Commission in Brussels.
Mr. Blocher also opposes the prospect of looser border controls under the Schengen Agreement, which allows for free movement among most Western European countries.
He says the treaty’s advantage consists of a “greater facility for traveling in Europe, but not of guaranteeing better security. Switzerland should not become a refuge for criminals.”
Mr. Blocher’s hard-hitting remarks are often at odds with the low-key approach to major problems generally taken by the Federal Council, as the Swiss government is known. Some politicians claim that he has successfully imposed his views on several fellow council members.
(Posted on January 13, 2005)