Switzerland

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Overview

 Switzerland is a landlocked country located in the heart of Europe. Originally inhabited by Helvetic Celts, the country came under Roman rule for five centuries, becoming an important trading stop along Roman military roads. Germanic tribes invaded shortly after the decline of the Roman Empire, but ruled only briefly, before the area became part of Charlemagne’s kingdom. As Swiss families allied themselves for both peaceful co-existence and protection, they were able to defeat numerous invasions, including three from the Habsburg Empire of Austria. It became independent of the Holy Roman Empire in 1499, but soon stopped expansionist policies after defeats by the French and Venetians in 1515. Though the country’s three major religions were at odds throughout the Reformation, Switzerland managed to hold onto its confederate localities and remain neutral until Napoleon conquered and annexed much of the country between 1797 and 1798. Switzerland was governed by France until 1815, when the Congress of Vienna restored the old confederation of sovereign states and re-established neutrality. Switzerland became one of Europe’s most industrialized nations during the latter part of the 19th century, before committing itself again to neutrality during both World Wars. After the Second World War, Switzerland followed the economic model of the US, but shied away from joining international bodies. Although it hosted the UN’s European headquarters, Switzerland did not officially join the international organization until 2002. It is not a member of the European Union.

 
In July 2008, a US Senate subcommittee accused banks in Switzerland (UBS AG) and Lichtenstein (LGT group, owned by the royal family) of helping wealthy Americans evade paying billions of dollars in taxes. This was done by providing offshore tax havens around the world, and stood to cost US taxpayers around $100 billion per year. The IRS has said it will seek more stringent accounting policies for these banks, and the Senate subcommittee has also taken steps to develop more transparent disclosure policies. The Swiss government is working with the US Senate and the IRS. UBS has agreed to disclose the names of 4,450 individuals who have evaded taxes using secret overseas bank accounts. The IRS has created a new audit division in its Large and Mid-Size Business division especially to deal with the 4,450 cases.
 
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Basic Information

Lay of the Land: Europe’s backbone, watershed, and most mountainous country, landlocked in the heart of the continent. The mighty Alps, Europe’s largest mountain system, cover 60% of Switzerland. The Rhine, Rhone, and feeders of the Danube and Po originate in Switzerland.

Population: 7.6 million.

Religions: Roman Catholic 41.8%, Protestant 35.3%, Muslim 4.3%, Hindu 0.3%, Buddhist 0.3%, Jewish 0.2%, Baha’i 0.1%, non-religious 11.1%.
 
Ethnic Groups: German 65%, French 18%, Italian 10%, Romansch 1%, other 6%.
 
Languages: Schwyzerdütsch 56.4%, German (official), French (official) 17.0%,, Lombard 4.0%, Italian (official) 2.6%, Romansch (official) 0.5%, Sinte Romani 0.2%, Walser 0.1%, Franco-Provençal 0.01%.
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History

The territory comprising modern day Switzerland was originally inhabited by Helvetians. These Helvetic Celts came under Roman rule during the Gallic Wars and remained part of the Roman Empire until the 4th century. Cities such as Geneva, Basel and Zurich became thriving trade destinations thanks to the roads linking them to Rome and the northern tribes.

 
When the Roman Empire declined, Germanic tribes invaded Switzerland from the north and west. Some of these invaders remained behind and established settlements. In 800, the country became part of Charlemagne’s empire, and later passed to the control of the Holy Roman emperors.
 
In the early 13th century, a north-south trade route was opened over the Alps. Rulers of the Roman Empire began to see the potential in the remote mountain valleys of Switzerland, and granted them some degree of autonomy. But when the Holy Roman Emperor died in 1291, the ruling families from Uri, Schwyz, and Unterwalden signed a charter to keep the peace. Pledging their mutual support, each family agreed to share administrative and judicial rule. The date of this agreement, August 1, is still celebrated as Switzerland’s National Day.
 
Between 1315 and 1388, the Swiss Confederates defeated the Habsburgs on three separate occasions in order to preserve their autonomy. Five other localities joined the Swiss Confederates, and the country continued to expand its borders through military means. Switzerland gained independence from the Holy Roman Empire in 1499.
 
In 1515, the Swiss Confederates were defeated by the French and Venetians near Milan, Italy, and went back on their expansionist policies. The Swiss Confederates was at that time comprised of 13 localities with a central governing body. When the Reformation took hold shortly thereafter, Protestants split with Calvinists in the German and French parts of the country, as well as the Catholics. But despite their differences over two centuries, common interests kept the Swiss Confederation from falling apart.
 
Switzerland managed to avoid many of the wars between European powers, which recognized Swiss neutrality in the Treaty of Westphalia in 1648. The Swiss remained neutral during the War of the First Coalition against revolutionary France, but Napoleon invaded anyway, and annexed much of the country between 1797 and 1798. He also replaced the loose confederation with a centrally governed state,
 
The Congress of Vienna in 1815 re-established the old confederation of sovereign states and re-established Switzerland’s permanent state of neutrality. In 1848, after a brief civil war between Protestant liberals seeking a centralized national state and Catholic conservatives devoted to maintaining the old order, the majority of Swiss citizens opted for a Federal State, modeled in part on the US Constitution.
 
In 1874, the Swiss constitution was amended to establish federal responsibility for defense, trade and legal matters. The country industrialized rapidly, and by 1850, it had become one of the most industrialized countries in Europe.
 
During World War I, internal conflicts between the German, French and Italian-speaking parts of the country developed, and Switzerland came close to changing its policy of neutrality. But the country managed to avoid any hostilities, and the postwar period was characterized by unrest in the employment sector and a general strike in 1918.
 
In 1937, employers and the largest trade union agreed to settle disputes, and during World War II, Switzerland was heavily pressured by the Fascists, especially after the fall of France in 1940. Troops completely surrounded the country, and political and economic leaders tried to appease the Nazis, allowing Switzerland to survive unscathed.
 
The Cold War offered Switzerland a way out of diplomatic isolation. Economically, the country followed the American-led model, but it was hesitant to join international bodies. Only after several decades did the country join the United Nations, though Geneva hosted the UN’s European headquarters.
 
In 1963, Switzerland joined the Council of Europe, but it still has not joined the European Union. During the early 1960s, Switzerland also helped form the European Free Trade Area, which did not strive for political union. Swiss women finally won the right to vote in 1971.
 
Switzerland joined the Bretton Woods institutions in 1992, and finally became a member of the United Nations in 2002.
 
Switzerland (Jewish Virtual Library)
History of Switzerland (History World)
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Switzerland's Newspapers
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History of U.S. Relations with Switzerland

 A number of individual Swiss were involved in the earliest colonization efforts in the United States, such as Theobald von Erlach, who was killed along with 900 French soldiers by the Spanish when their ship was wrecked by a hurricane in 1565. Some Swiss settled in the early Jamestown colony, while others settled later in South and North Carolina in colonies founded by Swiss pioneers.

 
About 25,000 Swiss settled in North America between 1710 and 1750, mainly in Pennsylvania, Virginia, and South Carolina. These included at least 4,000 Mennonites who sought a freer religious atmosphere in which to practice their beliefs. Swiss settlers continued to immigrate to frontier lands as they opened up, establishing communities across the Midwest.
 
Consular relations between the US and Switzerland were established in the late 1820s, and diplomatic relations followed in 1853. The US ambassador to Switzerland also is accredited to the Principality of Liechtenstein.
 
In the 1830s John August Sutter established New Helvetia in California, but his holdings were quickly overrun when the discovery of gold on his property sparked the 1848 Gold Rush. Annual immigration remained below a thousand until the 1850s, when it accelerated to about 2,000 per year.
 
The 1880s saw a massive influx of immigrants from all over Europe; approximately 8,200 Swiss arrived on America’s shores every year of that decade. Immigration slowed gradually leading up to World War I, and decreased drastically afterwards. The complete records for return migration are not available; however, the data from the 1920s shows that about 75% of Swiss men of military age eventually returned to the land of their birth.
 
Since the end of World War II, about 29,000 Swiss have immigrated to the US. Many of these recent immigrants were temporary migrants, working for American branches of Swiss multinational corporations.
 
The states with the largest Swiss populations are California (115,485), Pennsylvania (60,107), Ohio (70,302), Wisconsin (59,090), New York (38,721), and Illinois (37,505).
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Current U.S. Relations with Switzerland

 Relations between the US and Switzerland are cooperative. The first four years of cooperation under the US-Swiss Joint Economic Commission (JEC) helped to strengthen ties by including consultations on anti-money laundering efforts, counter-terrorism, and pharmaceutical regulatory cooperation; an e-government conference; and the re-establishment of the Fulbright student/cultural exchange program. The United States and Switzerland signed three new agreements in 2006 that complement the JEC and deepen cooperation.

 
The first is the Enhanced Political Framework, signed by Under Secretary of State for Political Affairs Nicholas Burns and Swiss State Secretary Michael Ambuhl. The second is the Trade and Investment Cooperation Forum, signed by US Trade Representative Robert Portman and Economics and Trade Minister Joseph Deiss. The last is the revised Operative Working Arrangement on Law Enforcement Cooperation on Counterterrorism, signed by US Attorney General Alberto Gonzalez and Swiss Justice Minister Christoph Blocher.
 
In the 2000 US Census, 911,502 people identified themselves as being of Swiss ancestry.
 
In 2006, 725,497 Americans visited Switzerland. The number of tourists has increased overall since 2002, when 688,820 Americans traveled to Switzerland. However tourism declined sharply in 2003 and has only recently recovered.
 
In 2006, 270,571 Swiss visited the US. The number of Swiss traveling to the US has increased sporadically since 2002, when 253,940 Swiss came to America.
 
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Where Does the Money Flow

 From 2003 to 2008, US imports from Switzerland included medicinal, dental and pharmaceutical preparations, increasing from $1.9 billion to $4 billion; jewelry watches, and rings, moving up from $1.5 billion to $2.5 billion; clocks, portable typewriters, and miscellaneous household goods, increasing from $566.2 million to $864 million; other industrial machinery, moving up from $488.8 million to $547 million; and electrical equipment, increasing from $407.5 million to $467million.

 
American imports from Switzerland on the decline included miscellaneous precious metals, falling from $178.1 million to $36.5 million; machine tools, metal working, molding and rolling, moving down from $434.4 million to $455 million; and pulp and paper machinery, declining from $345.8 million to $287.7 million.
 
Top American exports to Switzerland included nonmonetary gold, increasing from $2.7 billion to $8.5 billion; pharmaceutical preparations, moving up from $1.8 billion to $2.5 billion; gem diamonds, rising from $524.8 million to $888 million; and chemicals (organic), increasing from $106 million to $273.5 million. Exports of precious metals rose from $1.1 billion to $1.8 billion; and parts for civilian aircraft, increased from $316.6 million to $1 billion.
 
US exports to Switzerland on the decline included artwork, antiques, and stamps, decreasing from $1.8 billion to $1.5 billion
 
The US sold $271.3 million of defense articles and services to Switzerland in 2007.
 
The US does not give foreign aid to Switzerland.
 
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Controversies

Switzerland’s Banks Accused of Aiding Tax Fraud

In July 2008, a US Senate subcommittee accused banks in Switzerland (UBS AG) and Lichtenstein (LGT group, owned by the royal family) of helping wealthy Americans evade paying billions of dollars in taxes. This was done by providing offshore tax havens around the world, and stood to cost US taxpayers around $100 billion per year. The IRS has said it will seek more stringent accounting policies for these banks, and the Senate subcommittee has also taken steps to develop more transparent disclosure policies. The Swiss government is working with the US Senate and the IRS. UBS has agreed to disclose the names of 4,450 individuals who have evaded taxes using secret overseas bank accounts. Tax evaders have been given the option to turn themselves in by September 23, 2009, in exchange for reduced penalties. The IRS has created a new audit division in its Large and Mid-Size Business division especially to deal with the 4,450 cases.
 
Senate: UBS, Liechtenstein aided US tax cheats (Associated Press)                                                    
Why Tax Havens Are a Blessing (by Daniel J. Mitchell, ForeignPolicy.com)
New Offshore Bank Limits for US Clients, UBS Says (by Bernie Becker, New York Times)
UBS to Give 4,450 Names to U.S. (by Carrick Mollenkamp, Laura Saunders, and Even Perez, Wall Street Journal)
 
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Human Rights

 Switzerland has generally not been found in violation of any major human rights issues. However, there are reports of societal abuse and discrimination against religious groups and women and violence by right-wing extremists.

 
Civil Rights
The Swiss government has generally respected citizens’ rights to freedom of speech, assembly, religion, and movement. The following are some reported cases of violations or contentions.
 
According to the State Department Human Rights Report, it is a crime in Switzerland to publish “secret official discussions.” In February 2007 a military court announced that it had indicted three journalists working for the weekly SonntagsBlick for publishing a diplomatic communication. The indictments were criticized by organizations committed to freedom of the press.
 
There were reports of societal abuses or discrimination based on religious belief or practice, particularly those of Muslims and Jews. Such abuses include anti-Semitic slurs and graffiti or vandalism of Jewish property. According to the State Department Human Rights Report, “On February 12, an unknown assailant attacked a 60 year old Jewish man walking on a street in Zurich around noon. The victim was injured slightly but was able to fend off the attacker, who punched him and uttered anti Semitic slurs.” There have been complaints of discrimination against Islamic communities in some municipalities, who face difficulty in obtaining permits to build minarets, mosques, and Islamic cemeteries. Some employers also elect to prohibit headscarves in the workplace dress code.
 
Rights of Women and Children
The state has generally respected men and women’s equal rights, although it was not until 1971 that Swiss Women won the right to vote. Some laws discriminate against women. For example, the State Department reports, “the Federal Tribunal ruled that the primary wage earner in a divorce must be left with sufficient income to remain above the poverty level. Since the primary wage earner in most marriages was the man, if the household income was too low to support both parties, the wife and children could be forced to resort to public assistance. In June 2007 the Federal Commission for Women's Issues concluded that twice as many women as men fell below the poverty line following a divorce.”
 
Violence against women is a problem, and the state has mechanisms in place to combat against it. A 2003 international survey showed that almost 40% of women had suffered some sort of physical or sexual assault in their lifetimes, frequently at the hands of a former partner or an acquaintance; only one-third of the instances of physical violence and only 6% of sexual abuses were reported to police.
 
Female genital mutilation (FGM) is illegal, but the UN Children’s Fund (UNICEF) estimated that “there were nearly 7,000 circumcised women and girls in the country as a result of immigration from areas where FGM is practiced.” UNICEF is working to raise awareness against this issue and providing medical support for circumcised women and girls.
 
Child abuse was a problem. A 2005 study by the University of Fribourg estimated that, nationwide, 13,000 children under the age of two-and-a-half had been slapped in the face by their parents at times and 1,700 had been occasionally struck with objects. Statistics on the extent of sexual violence against children were unavailable, but experts estimated that 20% of girls and 10% of boys under the age of 18 had been victims.
 
During 2007 the national cyber crime monitoring body, CYCOS, referred 278 instances of illegal child pornography to local prosecuting authorities. “In most cases the cantonal prosecuting office opened a criminal investigation, and such investigations usually led to the confiscation of illegal material.”
 
Right-Wing Extremists
Right-wing extremists, including skinheads, continued to be publicly active; police estimated that their numbers remained steady at approximately 1,200. The objects of right-wing hostility included foreigners, ethnic and religious minorities, and immigrants. In 2007, such attacks were recorded at 118 incidents. For example, in May 2007, a 43-year-old Angolan immigrant was attacked in his workplace in Zurich. His attackers inflicted severe injuries using a chainsaw as a weapon and “shouted statements against Africans” during their attack.
 
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Debate
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Past Ambassadors

 Theodore S. Fay
Appointment: Jun 29, 1853
Presentation of Credentials: Presented recall, Jul 1, 1861
Note: Nominated Feb 25, 1856, to be Envoy Extraordinary and Minister Plenipotentiary; nomination withdrawn before the Senate acted upon it.

 
George G. Fogg
Appointment: Mar 28, 1861
Presentation of Credentials: Jul 1, 1861
Termination of Mission: Presented recall, Oct 16, 1865
 
George Harrington
Appointment: Jul 7, 1865
Presentation of Credentials: Oct 16, 1865
Termination of Mission: Presented recall, Jul 20, 1869
Note: Commissioned during a recess of the Senate; recommissioned after confirmation on Jan 22, 1866.
 
Horace Rublee
Appointment: Apr 20, 1869
Presentation of Credentials: Jul 20, 1869
Termination of Mission: Presented recall, Sep 7, 1876
Horace Rublee
Appointment: Aug 15, 1876
Presentation of Credentials: Sep 7, 1876
Termination of Mission: Left post Oct 1, 1876
 
George Schneider
Appointment: May 1, 1877
Note: Commissioned during a recess of the Senate. Took oath of office, but did not proceed to post.
 
Nicholas Fish
Appointment: Jun 20, 1877
Presentation of Credentials: Aug 7, 1877
Termination of Mission: Presented recall, Aug 24, 1881
Note: Commissioned during a recess of the Senate; recommissioned after confirmation on Oct 30, 1877.
 
Michael J. Cramer
Appointment: May 11, 1881
Presentation of Credentials: Aug 25, 1881
Termination of Mission: Promoted to Minister Resident/Consul General
Michael J. Cramer
Appointment: Jul 13, 1882
Presentation of Credentials: Aug 14, 1882
Termination of Mission: Presented recall, Jul 9, 1885
 
Boyd Winchester
Appointment: May 7, 1885
Presentation of Credentials: Jul 9, 1885
Termination of Mission: Presented recall, May 24, 1889
Note: Commissioned during a recess of the Senate; recommissioned after confirmation on Jan 21, 1866.
 
John D. Washburn
Appointment: Mar 12, 1889
Presentation of Credentials: May 24, 1889
Termination of Mission: Promoted to Envoy Extraordinary and Minister Plenipotentiary
John D. Washburn
Appointment: Jul 30, 1890
Presentation of Credentials: Dec 13, 1890
Termination of Mission: Left post Aug 10, 1892
 
Person C. Cheney
Appointment: Dec 13, 1892
Presentation of Credentials: Jan 26, 1893
Termination of Mission: Presented recall, Jan 29, 1893
 
James O. Broadhead
Appointment: Apr 7, 1893
Presentation of Credentials: Jul 5, 1893
Termination of Mission: Appointment terminated, Nov 1, 1895
 
John L. Peak
Appointment: Nov 18, 1895
Presentation of Credentials: Feb 15, 1896
Termination of Mission: Presented recall, Aug 9, 1897
Note: Commissioned during a recess of the Senate; recommissioned after confirmation on Dec 21, 1895.
 
John G.A. Leishman
Appointment: Jun 9, 1897
Presentation of Credentials: Aug 9, 1897
Termination of Mission: Presented recall, Feb 20, 1901
 
Arthur S. Hardy
Appointment: Dec 20, 1900
Presentation of Credentials: Apr 3, 1901
Termination of Mission: Presented recall, Jan 29, 1903
 
Charles Page Bryan
Appointment: Sep 26, 1902
Note: Commissioned during a recess of the Senate. Did not serve under either of the commissions issued to him.
Charles Page Bryan
Appointment: Dec 8, 1902
Note: Did not serve under either of the commissions issued to him.
 
David J. Hill
Appointment: Jan 7, 1903
Presentation of Credentials: Feb 24, 1903
Termination of Mission: Presented recall, Jul 1, 1905
 
Brutus J. Clay
Appointment: Mar 8, 1905
Presentation of Credentials: Jul 1, 1905
Termination of Mission: Superseded, Mar 1, 1910
 
Laurits S. Swenson
Appointment: Dec 21, 1909
Presentation of Credentials: Mar 1, 1910
Termination of Mission: Presented recall, May 15, 1911
 
Henry S. Boutell
Appointment: Apr 24, 1911
Presentation of Credentials: May 23, 1911
Termination of Mission: Presented recall, Jul 31, 1913
 
Pleasant A. Stovall
Appointment: Jun 21, 1913
Presentation of Credentials: Aug 23, 1913
Termination of Mission: Left post Dec 14, 1919
 
Hampson Gary
Appointment: Apr 7, 1920
Presentation of Credentials: Jun 3, 1920
Termination of Mission: Left post about Mar 4, 1921
 
Joseph C. Grew
Appointment: Sep 24, 1921
Presentation of Credentials: Nov 1, 1921
Termination of Mission: Left post Mar 22, 1924
 
Hugh S. Gibson
Appointment: Mar 18, 1924
Presentation of Credentials: May 19, 1924
Termination of Mission: Presented recall, Apr 29, 1927
 
Hugh R. Wilson
Appointment: Feb 26, 1927
Presentation of Credentials: Jun 11, 1927
Termination of Mission: Left post Jul 8, 1937
 
Leland Harrison
Appointment: Jul 13, 1937
Presentation of Credentials: Sep 10, 1937
Termination of Mission: Left post Oct 14, 1947
 
John Carter Vincent
Appointment: Jul 24, 1947
Presentation of Credentials: Oct 21, 1947
Termination of Mission: Left post Jun 9, 1951
 
Richard C. Patterson, Jr.
Appointment: Mar 22, 1951
Presentation of Credentials: Jun 27, 1951
Termination of Mission: Left post Apr 14, 1953
 
Frances E. Willis
Appointment: Jul 20, 1953
Presentation of Credentials: Oct 9, 1953
Termination of Mission: Left post May 5, 1957
 
Henry J. Taylor
Appointment: May 9, 1957
Presentation of Credentials: May 31, 1957
Termination of Mission: Left post Feb 28, 1961
 
Robert M. McKinney
Appointment: Jun 22, 1961
Presentation of Credentials: Jul 25, 1961
Termination of Mission: Left post Sep 8, 1963
 
W. True Davis, Jr.
Appointment: Oct 2, 1963
Presentation of Credentials: Nov 29, 1963
Termination of Mission: Left post Sep 3, 1965
 
John S. Hayes
Appointment: Sep 19, 1966
Presentation of Credentials: Nov 18, 1966
Termination of Mission: Left post May 20, 1969
 
Shelby Davis
Appointment: May 13, 1969
Presentation of Credentials: Jul 17, 1969
Termination of Mission: Left post Apr 10, 1975
 
Peter H. Dominick
Appointment: Feb 20, 1975
Presentation of Credentials: Apr 25, 1975
Termination of Mission: Left post Jul 10, 1975
 
Nathaniel Davis
Appointment: Nov 20, 1975
Presentation of Credentials: Jan 9, 1976
Termination of Mission: Left post Jul 31, 1977
 
Marvin L. Warner
Appointment: Jul 11, 1977
Presentation of Credentials: Sep 13, 1977
Termination of Mission: Left post Jul 10, 1979
 
Richard D. Vine
Appointment: Sep 20, 1979
Presentation of Credentials: Oct 19, 1979
Termination of Mission: Left post Sep 1, 1981
 
Faith Ryan Whittlesey
Appointment: Sep 28, 1981
Presentation of Credentials: Oct 23, 1981
Termination of Mission: Left post Feb 28, 1983
 
John Davis Lodge
Appointment: Mar 18, 1983
Presentation of Credentials: May 19, 1983
Termination of Mission: Left post Apr 30, 1985
 
Faith Ryan Whittlesey
Appointment: Apr 4, 1985
Presentation of Credentials: May 31, 1985
Termination of Mission: Left post Jun 14, 1988
 
Philip D. Winn
Appointment: Jul 11, 1988
Presentation of Credentials: Aug 19, 1988
Termination of Mission: Left post Aug 5, 1989
 
Joseph Bernard Gildenhorn
Appointment: Aug 3, 1989
Presentation of Credentials: Aug 23, 1989
Termination of Mission: Left post Mar 1, 1993
 
Note: The following officers served as Chargés d’Affaires ad interim 1993-1994: John E. Hall (Mar-Aug 1993), Brian M. Flora (Aug-Dec 1993), and Michael C. Plot (Dec 1993-Mar 1994)
 
M. Larry Lawrence
Appointment: Feb 9, 1994
Presentation of Credentials: Mar 21, 1994
Termination of Mission: Died at post Jan 9, 1996
 
Madeleine M. Kunin
Appointment: Aug 8, 1996
Presentation of Credentials: Aug 19, 1996
Termination of Mission: Left post Aug 16, 1999
Note: Also accredited to Liechtenstein, Feb 10, 1997.
 
J. Richard Fredericks
Appointment: Oct 29, 1999
Presentation of Credentials: Dec 2, 1999
Termination of Mission: Left post Jul 6, 2001
Note: Also accredited to Liechtenstein; resident at Bern.
 
Mercer Reynolds
Appointment: Aug 3, 2001
Presentation of Credentials: Sep 11, 2001
Termination of Mission: Left post Mar 29, 2003
Note: Also accredited to Liechtenstein; resident at Bern.
 
Pamela P. Willeford
Appointment: Oct 7, 2003
Presentation of Credentials: Nov 25, 2003
Termination of Mission: Left post, May 6, 2006
Note: Also accredited to Liechtenstein; resident at Bern.
 
Peter R. Coneway
Appointment: Jul 6, 2006
Presentation of Credentials: Oct 19, 2006
Termination of Mission:
Note: Also accredited to Liechtenstein; resident at Bern.
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Switzerland's Ambassador to the U.S.
ambassador-image Sager, Manuel

Manuel Sager, the ambassador of Switzerland since December 2010, is no stranger to the United States, having attended graduate school in North Carolina, worked as a lawyer in Arizona and held diplomatic posts in New York and Washington, DC.

 
Born in 1955 in Menziken in the canton of Aargau, Sager earned a doctorate from the law school of the University of Zurich. He later conducted postgraduate studies in the U.S., receiving a master’s of law degree from Duke University Law School.
 
In 1986, Sager passed the bar in the state of Arizona and worked as an associate attorney at the law firm of O’Connor, Cavanagh in Phoenix for two years, specializing in patent law.
 
In 1988, he began his career with the Federal Department of Foreign Affairs (FDFA) and was posted as a diplomat-in-training in Bern, Switzerland, and Athens, Greece.
 
From 1990-1995, he worked in the FDFA’s Directorate of International Law in Bern, and he headed the Division for Humanitarian Law 1993-1995.
 
He had his first diplomatic tour in the U.S. from 1995 to 1999, serving as deputy consul general in New York. He then shifted to the Swiss embassy in Washington, DC, to handle communications from 1999 to 2001.
 
Sager was head of the Coordination Office for Humanitarian Law for the Directorate of International Law from November 2001 to September 2002. For the next four months, he was head of communications for the Federal Department of Foreign Affairs, after which he moved on to the same position in the Federal Department of Economic Affairs.
 
From October 2005 to July 2008, Sager was an executive director at the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development in London, in charge of nine countries, including those in the ex-Soviet Union. He then took over as head of the FDFA’s Political Affairs Division (2008-2010).
 
Sager met his American-born wife, Christine, at a youth hostel in Oregon in 1982 while both were travelling around the United States. They were married 11 months later.
 

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Switzerland's Embassy Web Site in the U.S.
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Previous U.S. Ambassador to Switzerland

Beyer, Donald
ambassador-image

 

Among the European countries receiving a new U.S. ambassador who raised substantial amounts of money for President Barack Obama, France got an entertainment industry executive, while Belgium and Denmark each got well-known Washington, DC, attorneys. What did Switzerland and Liechtenstein get? Donald S. Beyer, Jr., a car salesman who served as lieutenant governor of Virginia in the 1990s.
 
Beyer was born on June 20, 1950, in Trieste, Italy, to U.S. Army officer Don Beyer and his wife, Nancy. The oldest of six children, he was raised in Washington, DC, and attended the all-boys Jesuit Gonzaga College High School. In 1968 he was a presidential scholar, a National Merit Scholarship winner, and graduated as class salutatorian.
 
He went on to Williams College in Massachusetts, and during that time he attended an Outward Bound course at Dartmouth College in January 1971, and attended Wellesley College as part of the “12 College Exchange” program. He received his bachelor’s in economics from Williams College in 1972, graduating Phi Beta Kappa and magna cum laude.
 
Following college, Beyer went to work for his father’s auto dealership and after taking over the family business, he built it up into an eight-store chain in Northern Virginia that sells Land Rover, Subaru, KIA and Volvo automobiles. With his growing wealth and business connections, Beyer became a player in Virginia Democratic politics in the 1980s.
 
He formed the Fairfax Democratic Business Forum to marshal the financial resources of Democratic businessmen in Virginia, and served as the Northern Virginia campaign manager for Democrat Gerald L. Baliles’ successful run for governor in 1985. Beyer also gave more than $50,000 to the campaign. In appreciation, Baliles appointed Beyer to the Commonwealth Transportation Board, which oversees the state Department of Transportation.
 
Beyer, who was divorced and had two children from his first marriage, met Megan Carroll, a television anchor for a Fairfax County cable station, during the gubernatorial campaign. The two were later married.
 
In the late 1980s Beyer decided it was his turn to run for office. He was prevented from running for the state General Assembly because the two districts where he lived were already occupied by Democratic stalwarts, and the local congressional seat was held by a popular Republican incumbent. So he took a shot at lieutenant governor. Many insiders didn’t give the novice Beyer much of a chance to succeed in the Democratic primary against state Senator Richard Saslaw. But to their surprise Beyer won the party’s nomination and the general election in 1989.
 
He first served under Democratic Governor Doug Wilder (1990-1994) and then Republican George Allen (1994-1998). The only meaningful task the lieutenant governor does is break ties in the state Senate. Aside from this occasional duty, Beyer chaired the Virginia Economic Recovery Commission, the Virginia Commission on Sexual Assault, the Virginia Commission on Disabilities, and the Poverty Commission.
 
After serving two terms as lieutenant governor, Beyer earned his party’s nod to run for governor in 1997. Facing Republican James S. Gilmore III, Beyer was on the wrong side of a debate about the state’s car tax, which his GOP opponent used successfully to gain the upper hand with voters and win the election.
 
Out of office, Beyer returned to running his auto dealerships. He also served on the Volvo International Product Development team, and was a chair of the National Volvo Retailer Advisory Board. In 2006, he served as chairman of the American International Automobile Dealers Association.
 
In 2004 Beyer was the national treasurer for Democrat Howard Dean’s presidential campaign. Beyer considered running for the U.S. Senate and challenging Republican incumbent George Allen. But once former Virginia Governor Mark Warner jumped into the race, Beyer decided to opt out of the Democratic primary. Instead, he joined Warner’s campaign as finance chairman.
 
Beyer and his wife served on the Obama campaign’s finance committee, helping to bundle at least $500,000 in donations, according to OpenSecrets.org.Beyer was one of Obama’s earliest and most vocal supporters in Virginia. Obama won the state’s Democratic primary, and later became the first Democrat to win Virginia in a presidential contest since Lyndon Johnson in 1964. Beyer was also an influential member of Obama’s transition team.
 
He has served on the boards of First Union National Bank (Virginia board), Shenandoah Life Insurance Company, Lightly Expressed, a fiber optic lighting design and manufacturing firm, Demosphere International, a leading soccer registration software provider, and History Associates.
 
Beyer has been a member of the Northern Virginia Business Roundtable and the Northern Virginia High Tech Council, which he co-founded. He’s served on the boards of Youth for Tomorrow, the Washington Community Foundation, and the Red Cross.
 
He and his family attend Christ Church in Alexandria, where Beyer has served as chairman of the outreach subcommittee.
 

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Overview

 Switzerland is a landlocked country located in the heart of Europe. Originally inhabited by Helvetic Celts, the country came under Roman rule for five centuries, becoming an important trading stop along Roman military roads. Germanic tribes invaded shortly after the decline of the Roman Empire, but ruled only briefly, before the area became part of Charlemagne’s kingdom. As Swiss families allied themselves for both peaceful co-existence and protection, they were able to defeat numerous invasions, including three from the Habsburg Empire of Austria. It became independent of the Holy Roman Empire in 1499, but soon stopped expansionist policies after defeats by the French and Venetians in 1515. Though the country’s three major religions were at odds throughout the Reformation, Switzerland managed to hold onto its confederate localities and remain neutral until Napoleon conquered and annexed much of the country between 1797 and 1798. Switzerland was governed by France until 1815, when the Congress of Vienna restored the old confederation of sovereign states and re-established neutrality. Switzerland became one of Europe’s most industrialized nations during the latter part of the 19th century, before committing itself again to neutrality during both World Wars. After the Second World War, Switzerland followed the economic model of the US, but shied away from joining international bodies. Although it hosted the UN’s European headquarters, Switzerland did not officially join the international organization until 2002. It is not a member of the European Union.

 
In July 2008, a US Senate subcommittee accused banks in Switzerland (UBS AG) and Lichtenstein (LGT group, owned by the royal family) of helping wealthy Americans evade paying billions of dollars in taxes. This was done by providing offshore tax havens around the world, and stood to cost US taxpayers around $100 billion per year. The IRS has said it will seek more stringent accounting policies for these banks, and the Senate subcommittee has also taken steps to develop more transparent disclosure policies. The Swiss government is working with the US Senate and the IRS. UBS has agreed to disclose the names of 4,450 individuals who have evaded taxes using secret overseas bank accounts. The IRS has created a new audit division in its Large and Mid-Size Business division especially to deal with the 4,450 cases.
 
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Basic Information

Lay of the Land: Europe’s backbone, watershed, and most mountainous country, landlocked in the heart of the continent. The mighty Alps, Europe’s largest mountain system, cover 60% of Switzerland. The Rhine, Rhone, and feeders of the Danube and Po originate in Switzerland.

Population: 7.6 million.

Religions: Roman Catholic 41.8%, Protestant 35.3%, Muslim 4.3%, Hindu 0.3%, Buddhist 0.3%, Jewish 0.2%, Baha’i 0.1%, non-religious 11.1%.
 
Ethnic Groups: German 65%, French 18%, Italian 10%, Romansch 1%, other 6%.
 
Languages: Schwyzerdütsch 56.4%, German (official), French (official) 17.0%,, Lombard 4.0%, Italian (official) 2.6%, Romansch (official) 0.5%, Sinte Romani 0.2%, Walser 0.1%, Franco-Provençal 0.01%.
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History

The territory comprising modern day Switzerland was originally inhabited by Helvetians. These Helvetic Celts came under Roman rule during the Gallic Wars and remained part of the Roman Empire until the 4th century. Cities such as Geneva, Basel and Zurich became thriving trade destinations thanks to the roads linking them to Rome and the northern tribes.

 
When the Roman Empire declined, Germanic tribes invaded Switzerland from the north and west. Some of these invaders remained behind and established settlements. In 800, the country became part of Charlemagne’s empire, and later passed to the control of the Holy Roman emperors.
 
In the early 13th century, a north-south trade route was opened over the Alps. Rulers of the Roman Empire began to see the potential in the remote mountain valleys of Switzerland, and granted them some degree of autonomy. But when the Holy Roman Emperor died in 1291, the ruling families from Uri, Schwyz, and Unterwalden signed a charter to keep the peace. Pledging their mutual support, each family agreed to share administrative and judicial rule. The date of this agreement, August 1, is still celebrated as Switzerland’s National Day.
 
Between 1315 and 1388, the Swiss Confederates defeated the Habsburgs on three separate occasions in order to preserve their autonomy. Five other localities joined the Swiss Confederates, and the country continued to expand its borders through military means. Switzerland gained independence from the Holy Roman Empire in 1499.
 
In 1515, the Swiss Confederates were defeated by the French and Venetians near Milan, Italy, and went back on their expansionist policies. The Swiss Confederates was at that time comprised of 13 localities with a central governing body. When the Reformation took hold shortly thereafter, Protestants split with Calvinists in the German and French parts of the country, as well as the Catholics. But despite their differences over two centuries, common interests kept the Swiss Confederation from falling apart.
 
Switzerland managed to avoid many of the wars between European powers, which recognized Swiss neutrality in the Treaty of Westphalia in 1648. The Swiss remained neutral during the War of the First Coalition against revolutionary France, but Napoleon invaded anyway, and annexed much of the country between 1797 and 1798. He also replaced the loose confederation with a centrally governed state,
 
The Congress of Vienna in 1815 re-established the old confederation of sovereign states and re-established Switzerland’s permanent state of neutrality. In 1848, after a brief civil war between Protestant liberals seeking a centralized national state and Catholic conservatives devoted to maintaining the old order, the majority of Swiss citizens opted for a Federal State, modeled in part on the US Constitution.
 
In 1874, the Swiss constitution was amended to establish federal responsibility for defense, trade and legal matters. The country industrialized rapidly, and by 1850, it had become one of the most industrialized countries in Europe.
 
During World War I, internal conflicts between the German, French and Italian-speaking parts of the country developed, and Switzerland came close to changing its policy of neutrality. But the country managed to avoid any hostilities, and the postwar period was characterized by unrest in the employment sector and a general strike in 1918.
 
In 1937, employers and the largest trade union agreed to settle disputes, and during World War II, Switzerland was heavily pressured by the Fascists, especially after the fall of France in 1940. Troops completely surrounded the country, and political and economic leaders tried to appease the Nazis, allowing Switzerland to survive unscathed.
 
The Cold War offered Switzerland a way out of diplomatic isolation. Economically, the country followed the American-led model, but it was hesitant to join international bodies. Only after several decades did the country join the United Nations, though Geneva hosted the UN’s European headquarters.
 
In 1963, Switzerland joined the Council of Europe, but it still has not joined the European Union. During the early 1960s, Switzerland also helped form the European Free Trade Area, which did not strive for political union. Swiss women finally won the right to vote in 1971.
 
Switzerland joined the Bretton Woods institutions in 1992, and finally became a member of the United Nations in 2002.
 
Switzerland (Jewish Virtual Library)
History of Switzerland (History World)
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Switzerland's Newspapers
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History of U.S. Relations with Switzerland

 A number of individual Swiss were involved in the earliest colonization efforts in the United States, such as Theobald von Erlach, who was killed along with 900 French soldiers by the Spanish when their ship was wrecked by a hurricane in 1565. Some Swiss settled in the early Jamestown colony, while others settled later in South and North Carolina in colonies founded by Swiss pioneers.

 
About 25,000 Swiss settled in North America between 1710 and 1750, mainly in Pennsylvania, Virginia, and South Carolina. These included at least 4,000 Mennonites who sought a freer religious atmosphere in which to practice their beliefs. Swiss settlers continued to immigrate to frontier lands as they opened up, establishing communities across the Midwest.
 
Consular relations between the US and Switzerland were established in the late 1820s, and diplomatic relations followed in 1853. The US ambassador to Switzerland also is accredited to the Principality of Liechtenstein.
 
In the 1830s John August Sutter established New Helvetia in California, but his holdings were quickly overrun when the discovery of gold on his property sparked the 1848 Gold Rush. Annual immigration remained below a thousand until the 1850s, when it accelerated to about 2,000 per year.
 
The 1880s saw a massive influx of immigrants from all over Europe; approximately 8,200 Swiss arrived on America’s shores every year of that decade. Immigration slowed gradually leading up to World War I, and decreased drastically afterwards. The complete records for return migration are not available; however, the data from the 1920s shows that about 75% of Swiss men of military age eventually returned to the land of their birth.
 
Since the end of World War II, about 29,000 Swiss have immigrated to the US. Many of these recent immigrants were temporary migrants, working for American branches of Swiss multinational corporations.
 
The states with the largest Swiss populations are California (115,485), Pennsylvania (60,107), Ohio (70,302), Wisconsin (59,090), New York (38,721), and Illinois (37,505).
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Current U.S. Relations with Switzerland

 Relations between the US and Switzerland are cooperative. The first four years of cooperation under the US-Swiss Joint Economic Commission (JEC) helped to strengthen ties by including consultations on anti-money laundering efforts, counter-terrorism, and pharmaceutical regulatory cooperation; an e-government conference; and the re-establishment of the Fulbright student/cultural exchange program. The United States and Switzerland signed three new agreements in 2006 that complement the JEC and deepen cooperation.

 
The first is the Enhanced Political Framework, signed by Under Secretary of State for Political Affairs Nicholas Burns and Swiss State Secretary Michael Ambuhl. The second is the Trade and Investment Cooperation Forum, signed by US Trade Representative Robert Portman and Economics and Trade Minister Joseph Deiss. The last is the revised Operative Working Arrangement on Law Enforcement Cooperation on Counterterrorism, signed by US Attorney General Alberto Gonzalez and Swiss Justice Minister Christoph Blocher.
 
In the 2000 US Census, 911,502 people identified themselves as being of Swiss ancestry.
 
In 2006, 725,497 Americans visited Switzerland. The number of tourists has increased overall since 2002, when 688,820 Americans traveled to Switzerland. However tourism declined sharply in 2003 and has only recently recovered.
 
In 2006, 270,571 Swiss visited the US. The number of Swiss traveling to the US has increased sporadically since 2002, when 253,940 Swiss came to America.
 
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Where Does the Money Flow

 From 2003 to 2008, US imports from Switzerland included medicinal, dental and pharmaceutical preparations, increasing from $1.9 billion to $4 billion; jewelry watches, and rings, moving up from $1.5 billion to $2.5 billion; clocks, portable typewriters, and miscellaneous household goods, increasing from $566.2 million to $864 million; other industrial machinery, moving up from $488.8 million to $547 million; and electrical equipment, increasing from $407.5 million to $467million.

 
American imports from Switzerland on the decline included miscellaneous precious metals, falling from $178.1 million to $36.5 million; machine tools, metal working, molding and rolling, moving down from $434.4 million to $455 million; and pulp and paper machinery, declining from $345.8 million to $287.7 million.
 
Top American exports to Switzerland included nonmonetary gold, increasing from $2.7 billion to $8.5 billion; pharmaceutical preparations, moving up from $1.8 billion to $2.5 billion; gem diamonds, rising from $524.8 million to $888 million; and chemicals (organic), increasing from $106 million to $273.5 million. Exports of precious metals rose from $1.1 billion to $1.8 billion; and parts for civilian aircraft, increased from $316.6 million to $1 billion.
 
US exports to Switzerland on the decline included artwork, antiques, and stamps, decreasing from $1.8 billion to $1.5 billion
 
The US sold $271.3 million of defense articles and services to Switzerland in 2007.
 
The US does not give foreign aid to Switzerland.
 
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Controversies

Switzerland’s Banks Accused of Aiding Tax Fraud

In July 2008, a US Senate subcommittee accused banks in Switzerland (UBS AG) and Lichtenstein (LGT group, owned by the royal family) of helping wealthy Americans evade paying billions of dollars in taxes. This was done by providing offshore tax havens around the world, and stood to cost US taxpayers around $100 billion per year. The IRS has said it will seek more stringent accounting policies for these banks, and the Senate subcommittee has also taken steps to develop more transparent disclosure policies. The Swiss government is working with the US Senate and the IRS. UBS has agreed to disclose the names of 4,450 individuals who have evaded taxes using secret overseas bank accounts. Tax evaders have been given the option to turn themselves in by September 23, 2009, in exchange for reduced penalties. The IRS has created a new audit division in its Large and Mid-Size Business division especially to deal with the 4,450 cases.
 
Senate: UBS, Liechtenstein aided US tax cheats (Associated Press)                                                    
Why Tax Havens Are a Blessing (by Daniel J. Mitchell, ForeignPolicy.com)
New Offshore Bank Limits for US Clients, UBS Says (by Bernie Becker, New York Times)
UBS to Give 4,450 Names to U.S. (by Carrick Mollenkamp, Laura Saunders, and Even Perez, Wall Street Journal)
 
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Human Rights

 Switzerland has generally not been found in violation of any major human rights issues. However, there are reports of societal abuse and discrimination against religious groups and women and violence by right-wing extremists.

 
Civil Rights
The Swiss government has generally respected citizens’ rights to freedom of speech, assembly, religion, and movement. The following are some reported cases of violations or contentions.
 
According to the State Department Human Rights Report, it is a crime in Switzerland to publish “secret official discussions.” In February 2007 a military court announced that it had indicted three journalists working for the weekly SonntagsBlick for publishing a diplomatic communication. The indictments were criticized by organizations committed to freedom of the press.
 
There were reports of societal abuses or discrimination based on religious belief or practice, particularly those of Muslims and Jews. Such abuses include anti-Semitic slurs and graffiti or vandalism of Jewish property. According to the State Department Human Rights Report, “On February 12, an unknown assailant attacked a 60 year old Jewish man walking on a street in Zurich around noon. The victim was injured slightly but was able to fend off the attacker, who punched him and uttered anti Semitic slurs.” There have been complaints of discrimination against Islamic communities in some municipalities, who face difficulty in obtaining permits to build minarets, mosques, and Islamic cemeteries. Some employers also elect to prohibit headscarves in the workplace dress code.
 
Rights of Women and Children
The state has generally respected men and women’s equal rights, although it was not until 1971 that Swiss Women won the right to vote. Some laws discriminate against women. For example, the State Department reports, “the Federal Tribunal ruled that the primary wage earner in a divorce must be left with sufficient income to remain above the poverty level. Since the primary wage earner in most marriages was the man, if the household income was too low to support both parties, the wife and children could be forced to resort to public assistance. In June 2007 the Federal Commission for Women's Issues concluded that twice as many women as men fell below the poverty line following a divorce.”
 
Violence against women is a problem, and the state has mechanisms in place to combat against it. A 2003 international survey showed that almost 40% of women had suffered some sort of physical or sexual assault in their lifetimes, frequently at the hands of a former partner or an acquaintance; only one-third of the instances of physical violence and only 6% of sexual abuses were reported to police.
 
Female genital mutilation (FGM) is illegal, but the UN Children’s Fund (UNICEF) estimated that “there were nearly 7,000 circumcised women and girls in the country as a result of immigration from areas where FGM is practiced.” UNICEF is working to raise awareness against this issue and providing medical support for circumcised women and girls.
 
Child abuse was a problem. A 2005 study by the University of Fribourg estimated that, nationwide, 13,000 children under the age of two-and-a-half had been slapped in the face by their parents at times and 1,700 had been occasionally struck with objects. Statistics on the extent of sexual violence against children were unavailable, but experts estimated that 20% of girls and 10% of boys under the age of 18 had been victims.
 
During 2007 the national cyber crime monitoring body, CYCOS, referred 278 instances of illegal child pornography to local prosecuting authorities. “In most cases the cantonal prosecuting office opened a criminal investigation, and such investigations usually led to the confiscation of illegal material.”
 
Right-Wing Extremists
Right-wing extremists, including skinheads, continued to be publicly active; police estimated that their numbers remained steady at approximately 1,200. The objects of right-wing hostility included foreigners, ethnic and religious minorities, and immigrants. In 2007, such attacks were recorded at 118 incidents. For example, in May 2007, a 43-year-old Angolan immigrant was attacked in his workplace in Zurich. His attackers inflicted severe injuries using a chainsaw as a weapon and “shouted statements against Africans” during their attack.
 
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Debate
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Past Ambassadors

 Theodore S. Fay
Appointment: Jun 29, 1853
Presentation of Credentials: Presented recall, Jul 1, 1861
Note: Nominated Feb 25, 1856, to be Envoy Extraordinary and Minister Plenipotentiary; nomination withdrawn before the Senate acted upon it.

 
George G. Fogg
Appointment: Mar 28, 1861
Presentation of Credentials: Jul 1, 1861
Termination of Mission: Presented recall, Oct 16, 1865
 
George Harrington
Appointment: Jul 7, 1865
Presentation of Credentials: Oct 16, 1865
Termination of Mission: Presented recall, Jul 20, 1869
Note: Commissioned during a recess of the Senate; recommissioned after confirmation on Jan 22, 1866.
 
Horace Rublee
Appointment: Apr 20, 1869
Presentation of Credentials: Jul 20, 1869
Termination of Mission: Presented recall, Sep 7, 1876
Horace Rublee
Appointment: Aug 15, 1876
Presentation of Credentials: Sep 7, 1876
Termination of Mission: Left post Oct 1, 1876
 
George Schneider
Appointment: May 1, 1877
Note: Commissioned during a recess of the Senate. Took oath of office, but did not proceed to post.
 
Nicholas Fish
Appointment: Jun 20, 1877
Presentation of Credentials: Aug 7, 1877
Termination of Mission: Presented recall, Aug 24, 1881
Note: Commissioned during a recess of the Senate; recommissioned after confirmation on Oct 30, 1877.
 
Michael J. Cramer
Appointment: May 11, 1881
Presentation of Credentials: Aug 25, 1881
Termination of Mission: Promoted to Minister Resident/Consul General
Michael J. Cramer
Appointment: Jul 13, 1882
Presentation of Credentials: Aug 14, 1882
Termination of Mission: Presented recall, Jul 9, 1885
 
Boyd Winchester
Appointment: May 7, 1885
Presentation of Credentials: Jul 9, 1885
Termination of Mission: Presented recall, May 24, 1889
Note: Commissioned during a recess of the Senate; recommissioned after confirmation on Jan 21, 1866.
 
John D. Washburn
Appointment: Mar 12, 1889
Presentation of Credentials: May 24, 1889
Termination of Mission: Promoted to Envoy Extraordinary and Minister Plenipotentiary
John D. Washburn
Appointment: Jul 30, 1890
Presentation of Credentials: Dec 13, 1890
Termination of Mission: Left post Aug 10, 1892
 
Person C. Cheney
Appointment: Dec 13, 1892
Presentation of Credentials: Jan 26, 1893
Termination of Mission: Presented recall, Jan 29, 1893
 
James O. Broadhead
Appointment: Apr 7, 1893
Presentation of Credentials: Jul 5, 1893
Termination of Mission: Appointment terminated, Nov 1, 1895
 
John L. Peak
Appointment: Nov 18, 1895
Presentation of Credentials: Feb 15, 1896
Termination of Mission: Presented recall, Aug 9, 1897
Note: Commissioned during a recess of the Senate; recommissioned after confirmation on Dec 21, 1895.
 
John G.A. Leishman
Appointment: Jun 9, 1897
Presentation of Credentials: Aug 9, 1897
Termination of Mission: Presented recall, Feb 20, 1901
 
Arthur S. Hardy
Appointment: Dec 20, 1900
Presentation of Credentials: Apr 3, 1901
Termination of Mission: Presented recall, Jan 29, 1903
 
Charles Page Bryan
Appointment: Sep 26, 1902
Note: Commissioned during a recess of the Senate. Did not serve under either of the commissions issued to him.
Charles Page Bryan
Appointment: Dec 8, 1902
Note: Did not serve under either of the commissions issued to him.
 
David J. Hill
Appointment: Jan 7, 1903
Presentation of Credentials: Feb 24, 1903
Termination of Mission: Presented recall, Jul 1, 1905
 
Brutus J. Clay
Appointment: Mar 8, 1905
Presentation of Credentials: Jul 1, 1905
Termination of Mission: Superseded, Mar 1, 1910
 
Laurits S. Swenson
Appointment: Dec 21, 1909
Presentation of Credentials: Mar 1, 1910
Termination of Mission: Presented recall, May 15, 1911
 
Henry S. Boutell
Appointment: Apr 24, 1911
Presentation of Credentials: May 23, 1911
Termination of Mission: Presented recall, Jul 31, 1913
 
Pleasant A. Stovall
Appointment: Jun 21, 1913
Presentation of Credentials: Aug 23, 1913
Termination of Mission: Left post Dec 14, 1919
 
Hampson Gary
Appointment: Apr 7, 1920
Presentation of Credentials: Jun 3, 1920
Termination of Mission: Left post about Mar 4, 1921
 
Joseph C. Grew
Appointment: Sep 24, 1921
Presentation of Credentials: Nov 1, 1921
Termination of Mission: Left post Mar 22, 1924
 
Hugh S. Gibson
Appointment: Mar 18, 1924
Presentation of Credentials: May 19, 1924
Termination of Mission: Presented recall, Apr 29, 1927
 
Hugh R. Wilson
Appointment: Feb 26, 1927
Presentation of Credentials: Jun 11, 1927
Termination of Mission: Left post Jul 8, 1937
 
Leland Harrison
Appointment: Jul 13, 1937
Presentation of Credentials: Sep 10, 1937
Termination of Mission: Left post Oct 14, 1947
 
John Carter Vincent
Appointment: Jul 24, 1947
Presentation of Credentials: Oct 21, 1947
Termination of Mission: Left post Jun 9, 1951
 
Richard C. Patterson, Jr.
Appointment: Mar 22, 1951
Presentation of Credentials: Jun 27, 1951
Termination of Mission: Left post Apr 14, 1953
 
Frances E. Willis
Appointment: Jul 20, 1953
Presentation of Credentials: Oct 9, 1953
Termination of Mission: Left post May 5, 1957
 
Henry J. Taylor
Appointment: May 9, 1957
Presentation of Credentials: May 31, 1957
Termination of Mission: Left post Feb 28, 1961
 
Robert M. McKinney
Appointment: Jun 22, 1961
Presentation of Credentials: Jul 25, 1961
Termination of Mission: Left post Sep 8, 1963
 
W. True Davis, Jr.
Appointment: Oct 2, 1963
Presentation of Credentials: Nov 29, 1963
Termination of Mission: Left post Sep 3, 1965
 
John S. Hayes
Appointment: Sep 19, 1966
Presentation of Credentials: Nov 18, 1966
Termination of Mission: Left post May 20, 1969
 
Shelby Davis
Appointment: May 13, 1969
Presentation of Credentials: Jul 17, 1969
Termination of Mission: Left post Apr 10, 1975
 
Peter H. Dominick
Appointment: Feb 20, 1975
Presentation of Credentials: Apr 25, 1975
Termination of Mission: Left post Jul 10, 1975
 
Nathaniel Davis
Appointment: Nov 20, 1975
Presentation of Credentials: Jan 9, 1976
Termination of Mission: Left post Jul 31, 1977
 
Marvin L. Warner
Appointment: Jul 11, 1977
Presentation of Credentials: Sep 13, 1977
Termination of Mission: Left post Jul 10, 1979
 
Richard D. Vine
Appointment: Sep 20, 1979
Presentation of Credentials: Oct 19, 1979
Termination of Mission: Left post Sep 1, 1981
 
Faith Ryan Whittlesey
Appointment: Sep 28, 1981
Presentation of Credentials: Oct 23, 1981
Termination of Mission: Left post Feb 28, 1983
 
John Davis Lodge
Appointment: Mar 18, 1983
Presentation of Credentials: May 19, 1983
Termination of Mission: Left post Apr 30, 1985
 
Faith Ryan Whittlesey
Appointment: Apr 4, 1985
Presentation of Credentials: May 31, 1985
Termination of Mission: Left post Jun 14, 1988
 
Philip D. Winn
Appointment: Jul 11, 1988
Presentation of Credentials: Aug 19, 1988
Termination of Mission: Left post Aug 5, 1989
 
Joseph Bernard Gildenhorn
Appointment: Aug 3, 1989
Presentation of Credentials: Aug 23, 1989
Termination of Mission: Left post Mar 1, 1993
 
Note: The following officers served as Chargés d’Affaires ad interim 1993-1994: John E. Hall (Mar-Aug 1993), Brian M. Flora (Aug-Dec 1993), and Michael C. Plot (Dec 1993-Mar 1994)
 
M. Larry Lawrence
Appointment: Feb 9, 1994
Presentation of Credentials: Mar 21, 1994
Termination of Mission: Died at post Jan 9, 1996
 
Madeleine M. Kunin
Appointment: Aug 8, 1996
Presentation of Credentials: Aug 19, 1996
Termination of Mission: Left post Aug 16, 1999
Note: Also accredited to Liechtenstein, Feb 10, 1997.
 
J. Richard Fredericks
Appointment: Oct 29, 1999
Presentation of Credentials: Dec 2, 1999
Termination of Mission: Left post Jul 6, 2001
Note: Also accredited to Liechtenstein; resident at Bern.
 
Mercer Reynolds
Appointment: Aug 3, 2001
Presentation of Credentials: Sep 11, 2001
Termination of Mission: Left post Mar 29, 2003
Note: Also accredited to Liechtenstein; resident at Bern.
 
Pamela P. Willeford
Appointment: Oct 7, 2003
Presentation of Credentials: Nov 25, 2003
Termination of Mission: Left post, May 6, 2006
Note: Also accredited to Liechtenstein; resident at Bern.
 
Peter R. Coneway
Appointment: Jul 6, 2006
Presentation of Credentials: Oct 19, 2006
Termination of Mission:
Note: Also accredited to Liechtenstein; resident at Bern.
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Switzerland's Ambassador to the U.S.
ambassador-image Sager, Manuel

Manuel Sager, the ambassador of Switzerland since December 2010, is no stranger to the United States, having attended graduate school in North Carolina, worked as a lawyer in Arizona and held diplomatic posts in New York and Washington, DC.

 
Born in 1955 in Menziken in the canton of Aargau, Sager earned a doctorate from the law school of the University of Zurich. He later conducted postgraduate studies in the U.S., receiving a master’s of law degree from Duke University Law School.
 
In 1986, Sager passed the bar in the state of Arizona and worked as an associate attorney at the law firm of O’Connor, Cavanagh in Phoenix for two years, specializing in patent law.
 
In 1988, he began his career with the Federal Department of Foreign Affairs (FDFA) and was posted as a diplomat-in-training in Bern, Switzerland, and Athens, Greece.
 
From 1990-1995, he worked in the FDFA’s Directorate of International Law in Bern, and he headed the Division for Humanitarian Law 1993-1995.
 
He had his first diplomatic tour in the U.S. from 1995 to 1999, serving as deputy consul general in New York. He then shifted to the Swiss embassy in Washington, DC, to handle communications from 1999 to 2001.
 
Sager was head of the Coordination Office for Humanitarian Law for the Directorate of International Law from November 2001 to September 2002. For the next four months, he was head of communications for the Federal Department of Foreign Affairs, after which he moved on to the same position in the Federal Department of Economic Affairs.
 
From October 2005 to July 2008, Sager was an executive director at the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development in London, in charge of nine countries, including those in the ex-Soviet Union. He then took over as head of the FDFA’s Political Affairs Division (2008-2010).
 
Sager met his American-born wife, Christine, at a youth hostel in Oregon in 1982 while both were travelling around the United States. They were married 11 months later.
 

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Switzerland's Embassy Web Site in the U.S.
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Previous U.S. Ambassador to Switzerland

Beyer, Donald
ambassador-image

 

Among the European countries receiving a new U.S. ambassador who raised substantial amounts of money for President Barack Obama, France got an entertainment industry executive, while Belgium and Denmark each got well-known Washington, DC, attorneys. What did Switzerland and Liechtenstein get? Donald S. Beyer, Jr., a car salesman who served as lieutenant governor of Virginia in the 1990s.
 
Beyer was born on June 20, 1950, in Trieste, Italy, to U.S. Army officer Don Beyer and his wife, Nancy. The oldest of six children, he was raised in Washington, DC, and attended the all-boys Jesuit Gonzaga College High School. In 1968 he was a presidential scholar, a National Merit Scholarship winner, and graduated as class salutatorian.
 
He went on to Williams College in Massachusetts, and during that time he attended an Outward Bound course at Dartmouth College in January 1971, and attended Wellesley College as part of the “12 College Exchange” program. He received his bachelor’s in economics from Williams College in 1972, graduating Phi Beta Kappa and magna cum laude.
 
Following college, Beyer went to work for his father’s auto dealership and after taking over the family business, he built it up into an eight-store chain in Northern Virginia that sells Land Rover, Subaru, KIA and Volvo automobiles. With his growing wealth and business connections, Beyer became a player in Virginia Democratic politics in the 1980s.
 
He formed the Fairfax Democratic Business Forum to marshal the financial resources of Democratic businessmen in Virginia, and served as the Northern Virginia campaign manager for Democrat Gerald L. Baliles’ successful run for governor in 1985. Beyer also gave more than $50,000 to the campaign. In appreciation, Baliles appointed Beyer to the Commonwealth Transportation Board, which oversees the state Department of Transportation.
 
Beyer, who was divorced and had two children from his first marriage, met Megan Carroll, a television anchor for a Fairfax County cable station, during the gubernatorial campaign. The two were later married.
 
In the late 1980s Beyer decided it was his turn to run for office. He was prevented from running for the state General Assembly because the two districts where he lived were already occupied by Democratic stalwarts, and the local congressional seat was held by a popular Republican incumbent. So he took a shot at lieutenant governor. Many insiders didn’t give the novice Beyer much of a chance to succeed in the Democratic primary against state Senator Richard Saslaw. But to their surprise Beyer won the party’s nomination and the general election in 1989.
 
He first served under Democratic Governor Doug Wilder (1990-1994) and then Republican George Allen (1994-1998). The only meaningful task the lieutenant governor does is break ties in the state Senate. Aside from this occasional duty, Beyer chaired the Virginia Economic Recovery Commission, the Virginia Commission on Sexual Assault, the Virginia Commission on Disabilities, and the Poverty Commission.
 
After serving two terms as lieutenant governor, Beyer earned his party’s nod to run for governor in 1997. Facing Republican James S. Gilmore III, Beyer was on the wrong side of a debate about the state’s car tax, which his GOP opponent used successfully to gain the upper hand with voters and win the election.
 
Out of office, Beyer returned to running his auto dealerships. He also served on the Volvo International Product Development team, and was a chair of the National Volvo Retailer Advisory Board. In 2006, he served as chairman of the American International Automobile Dealers Association.
 
In 2004 Beyer was the national treasurer for Democrat Howard Dean’s presidential campaign. Beyer considered running for the U.S. Senate and challenging Republican incumbent George Allen. But once former Virginia Governor Mark Warner jumped into the race, Beyer decided to opt out of the Democratic primary. Instead, he joined Warner’s campaign as finance chairman.
 
Beyer and his wife served on the Obama campaign’s finance committee, helping to bundle at least $500,000 in donations, according to OpenSecrets.org.Beyer was one of Obama’s earliest and most vocal supporters in Virginia. Obama won the state’s Democratic primary, and later became the first Democrat to win Virginia in a presidential contest since Lyndon Johnson in 1964. Beyer was also an influential member of Obama’s transition team.
 
He has served on the boards of First Union National Bank (Virginia board), Shenandoah Life Insurance Company, Lightly Expressed, a fiber optic lighting design and manufacturing firm, Demosphere International, a leading soccer registration software provider, and History Associates.
 
Beyer has been a member of the Northern Virginia Business Roundtable and the Northern Virginia High Tech Council, which he co-founded. He’s served on the boards of Youth for Tomorrow, the Washington Community Foundation, and the Red Cross.
 
He and his family attend Christ Church in Alexandria, where Beyer has served as chairman of the outreach subcommittee.
 

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