Switzerland. Did Switzerland escape occupation during the
war by being Nazi Germany's financial runners-up? The issue
was fueled by new information that Nazi leaders deposited
stolen gold worth billions in Swiss banks before the end of
the war. Jewish groups demanded that the banks report what
European Jews deposited into secret accounts in 1933-45
before falling victim to the Nazi terror. The Jewish World
Congress, WJC, believes that the vaults in Switzerland can
hide close to seven billion US dollars, hitherto
inaccessible to the owners' survivors. Two expert
commissions were appointed to seek the missing bank money.
Countryaah.com, the economy continued at half speed, and the Swiss
franc's strong course hampered the competitiveness of
exporting companies. Unemployment was set at just over 4%, a
figure high for Switzerland. A proposal to increase
employment by abolishing the industry's women's ban at night
and giving companies the right to freer opening hours was
rejected in a referendum in December. Mad Cow Disease (BSE)
hit hard on agriculture, and Switzerland was reported to be
Europe's worst BSE-affected country after the UK with 230
cases. However, a government proposal for the slaughter of
230,000 cows to eradicate the infection did not go through.
Parliament decreed in December that the slaughter of 1,100
animals was enough.
In October, the government decided that Switzerland from
1997 should be part of NATO's Partnership for Peace
Partnership Program (PFP).