Minister Ignazio Cassis has been trying to invite his counterpart Osman Saleh to Switzerland since last fall. So far his efforts have been unsuccessful. To date, there is no date for this official visit, as confirmed by the Federal Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA).

What is astonishing: the Eritrean Foreign Minister was in Switzerland this summer. As the investigation by the "Rundschau" shows, the high-ranking representative of the controversial Eritrean regime took part in a big festival exactly one month ago in the Markthalle Burgdorf in the canton of Bern. There he danced along the regime-loyal compatriots. He did not meet Swiss authorities during his trip.

Osman Saleh: the Uninvited Foreign Minister of Eritrea Sneaks in Switzerland

Asmarino.com Intro:

Eritreans make up the largest portion of refugees in Switzerland. There are over 40,000 Eritrean refugees in the small country of Switzerland whose population is 8.5 million. Switzerland is in the process of shutting down its open-door policy toward Eritreans which in the past had automatically granted them refugee status.

Many Eritreans granted temporary residence in Switzerland after seeing their bid for asylum rejected have received letters informing them their status is now under review. The Swiss government wants to develop a repatriation policy together with the Eritrean government, a plan which has proven problematic to ratify to date. Nevertheless, there is still no regulated repatriation agreement between Switzerland and Eritrea. One of the reasons for this is that the Eritrean government has repeatedly ignored the invitation of Foreign Minister Ignazio Cassis to attend a diplomatic meeting.

In July, Osman Saleh sent a message to the Swiss foreign minister saying that he was going to ‘stop by’ (outside the etiquette observed by diplomats) and sneaked in the country a few days later without an official invitation from the Swiss government.  He danced with the PFDJ members in their festival – former Eritrean refugees who still feel uncomfortable to go back to ‘liberated’ Eritrea - and that was portrayed as a positive gesture.

The international community is aware of the rights of all Eritrean citizens remain severely restricted back home, and the lives of the younger generations who are conscripted into national service are especially impacted.

The 2018 Peace Agreement between Eritrea and Ethiopia means nothing to members of national service; more and more young people are still being conscripted and herded to Sawa to serve in the national service indefinitely.

Eritrea does not want the refugees to return home for various reasons. Many of those refugees have become the source of income for the country because they send money to their families – they have become the social safety net for the poor. Moreover, the government considers those who have fled as ‘excess’ citizens – so why not take advantage of the ‘excess population’. 

The strange thing is the fact that some of the asylum seekers are caught on camera ‘dancing’ with the very forces that drove them out of the country. How can one dance together with Osman Saleh in Bern, Switzerland, when in fact he is one of the reasons why Eritreans had to flee the country.

The regime used the Osman Saleh incident as propaganda – that Eritreans are ‘with PFDJ’ no matter what.

Osman Saleh’s Scandalous Visit to Switzerland

Wednesday, 21.08.2019, 15:50

by Georg Humbel

Source: https://www.srf.ch/news/schweiz/eklat-um-ministerbesuch-eritrea-brueskiert-die-schweiz

  • Federal Councillor Ignazio Cassis (FDP), head of the Department of Foreign Affairs, has invited Osman Saleh to Switzerland last autumn. Until today there is no fixed date for this visit.
  • The Eritrean side informs Cassis there would be a meeting. However, the Councillor was apparently on vacation.
  • Swiss politicians who oversee asylum cases are angry. The explosive asylum dossier remains gridlocked.

 

Minister Ignazio Cassis has been trying to invite his counterpart Osman Saleh to Switzerland since last fall. So far his efforts have been unsuccessful. To date, there is no date for this official visit, as confirmed by the Federal Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA).

What is astonishing: the Eritrean Foreign Minister was in Switzerland this summer. As the investigation by the "Rundschau" shows, the high-ranking representative of the controversial Eritrean regime took part in a big festival exactly one month ago in the Markthalle Burgdorf in the canton of Bern. There he danced along the regime-loyal compatriots. He did not meet Swiss authorities during his trip.

Short term appointment offered

As DFA (Department of Foreign Affairs) informed SRF (Swiss Radio and Television) in writing, the Confederation had been briefed shortly before Saleh's appearance: "On July 9, the permanent mission of Eritrea in Geneva informed the FDFA that the Eritrean Foreign Minister will be in Switzerland from 16 to 22 July.  "The Eritrean side requested a meeting with Federal Councillor Cassis. However, Cassis was unable to take advantage of this short-term deadline for reasons of conflicting schedule. According to inquiry made by SRF Cassis was on vacation.

Outraged politicians at the Foreign Affairs

The short-term visit in the middle of the summer holidays caused outrage among Swiss parliamentarians: "This is very strange. To my knowledge, Federal Councillor Ignazio Cassis has already tried three times to invite him to Switzerland. But that never worked ", said FDP Council of States and foreign policy Damian Müller. Such visits should be announced in good time.

"Of course that is an affront to Switzerland. That is quite clear, "said SP National Council Cédric Wermuth, annoyed.  "Switzerland has issued an official invitation to Eritrea. The invitation was never answered and then, all of a sudden, Osman Saleh comes for a propaganda appearance of his dictatorship in Switzerland. That should not have happened", said Wermuth.

Enraged Eritrean opposition

The appearance of Osman Saleh is a PR stunt which pleased the loyal group to the regime in Switzerland.  But the majority of the refugees fear the regime and have fled the entrenched dictatorship in their homeland. For this group, the appearance of Osman Saleh in Burgdorf is also an affront.

"We strongly condemn the fact that the regime in Switzerland can carry out dubious propaganda performances unchecked," said Okbaab Tesfamariam, media spokesman for the Eritrean Media Association Switzerland. "[Such a sneaky] performance proves that the Eritrean regime cannot be trusted," Tesfamariam continues. With such a dictatorship no repatriation agreements should be concluded, says the Eritrean activist.

Totally Frozen Asylum Dossier

From no other country, except Eritrea, have so many asylum seekers come to Switzerland in recent years. The Confederation wants to negotiate with the East African country for the repatriation of rejected asylum seekers. But in the meantime representatives of the SVP no longer believe in a repatriation agreement: "This regime is dancing right under our nose," said SVP National Councillor Barbara Steinemann. Realistically, it would probably be "hardly possible" to negotiate such a contract with this regime.


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