|For American Swiss relations, there is a ‘before’ and an ‘after’ September 11.
The security measures taken by Washington in the wake of the terrorist attacks two years ago have had far reaching consequences.
The attacks did not just upset the world’s political stability, they had a major effect on the global economy.
The aviation industry was the first to suffer. Switzerland’s national carrier, Swissair, which was already in financial difficulty at the time of the attacks, was a major casualty.
Jean-Claude Donzel, currently spokesman for the national airline, Swiss, and former spokesman for Swissair, remembers the crisis.
“It was an enormous shock. People simply stopped travelling.”
“And the security measures taken afterwards by the United States have had a huge impact too,” he added. “They are costing billions of dollars."
Immediately after the attacks of September 11, the US decided on a raft of stringent security measures.
The US congress voted in the ‘Patriot Act’, which gives the government almost unlimited powers to hunt down suspected terrorists and seize their assets.
As one of the world’s major financial centres, Switzerland naturally found itself in the spotlight.
Washington now has the power to demand information about the movement of funds or the opening of bank accounts by foreigners – in US banks and Swiss ones.
Switzerland’s banking secrecy is already under pressure from the European Union, now America’s security measures are affecting it too.
A particular concern is the US’ apparent unwillingness to differentiate between terrorist money, dirty money, or the proceeds of tax evasion.