• Switzerland edition
 
Thatcher remembered for sparking Bern protest
Margaret Thatcher dominates front page of UK newspaper Evening Standard. The former PM failed to escape controversy in her only official visit to Switzerland. Photo: Will Oliver/AFP

Thatcher remembered for sparking Bern protest

Published: 08 Apr 2013 21:19 GMT+02:00
Updated: 08 Apr 2013 21:19 GMT+02:00

The rally occurred during the Iron Lady’s only official visit to Switzerland on September 20th 1990, late in her political career.

Around 300 people gathered in the Swiss capital waving banners and shouting hostile chants to protest Britain’s “occupation” of Northern Ireland.

A total of 17 people were arrested at the rally outside the parliament building.

Thatcher met with members of the Swiss government, as well as representatives from the business sector.

The Conservative party leader declared that Switzerland’s neutrality was no obstacle to membership in the European Community, the forerunner to the European Union.

Trained as a chemist, she paid a visit to Ciba-Geigy (a chemical and pharmaceutical firm that later fused with Sandoz to become Novartis) where she declared herself to be “very impressed” by the company’s facilities, the ATS news agency reported. 

A day after her official visit ended, she and her husband Denis paid a private visit to a friend living in the Schloss Freudenberg on the shores of Lake Zug, the agency recalled.

In November 1990, two weeks before she resigned, Thatcher came to Geneva for the second world climate conference where she called for immediate action at a “global level” to stabilize carbon dioxide emissions.

Six years earlier, Switzerland attempted to play a mediating role in the normalization of relations between the UK and Argentina following the Falklands War.

A meeting between representatives from London and Buenos Aires was planned for Bern.

However, it never took place because of the inflexible position taken by Thatcher, former Swiss ambassador Edouard Brunner recalled in his memoirs published in 2002, ATS said.

Thatcher’s other connection with Switzerland involved her son, businessman Mark Thatcher, who obtained a Swiss residency permit in 1991.

He worked as a senior manager for Espirito Santo, a Lausanne-based finance company, ATS reported.

Mark Thatcher was subsequently rumoured to be involved in trafficking arms with Iraq, then under the regime of Saddam Hussein, the agency noted.

In January 1993, the Swiss federal government announced there was no “concrete evidence” to link him with such trafficking. 

Three months later, he left Switzerland and did not renew his residency permit, ATS said.

In 2005, Mark Thatcher was fined the equivalent of $500,000 and sentenced to a suspended jail term in South Africa after pleading guilty to his role in an attempted coup in Equatorial Guinea.

He was found guilty of violating the South African “foreign military assistance” law, and was subsequently denied a residence visa in the United States.

Editor's note: This article was changed to correct an error in the second-to-last sentence regarding who was fined and sentenced in South Africa.

Malcolm Curtis (news@thelocal.ch)

Don't miss...X
Left Right

Your comments about this article

Today's headlines
Lausanne woman among Mali plane crash dead
The Air Algérie plane was en route to Algiers. Photo: Farouk Batiche/AFP

Lausanne woman among Mali plane crash dead

A communications officer from Lausanne is listed among the 118 people on board the Air Algérie plane which crashed in Mali on Thursday. READ  

Resting Wawrinka drops in on Swiss Open
Wawrinka recovered from illness shortly before Wimbledon. Photo: Andrew Yates/AFP

Resting Wawrinka drops in on Swiss Open

Stan Wawrinka confirmed on Friday that he is fit and ready for the final leg of the ATP season, starting with the Masters 1000 event in Canada. READ  

Swiss swimmer attempts river Rhine record
The Rhine flows through Basel. Photo: Michelle Kinsey Bruns

Swiss swimmer attempts river Rhine record

A man from Graübunden is attempting to swim the length of the river Rhine from its source to its mouth, a journey of 1,247 kilometres. READ  

Deal reached on Geneva airport construction
The agreement means Geneva airport's building work can go ahead. Photo: eguidetravel.com

Deal reached on Geneva airport construction

Environmentalists and residents groups have withdrawn their opposition to the renovation of Geneva airport’s east wing after an agreement was reached regarding the number of planes that may use it. READ  

New rules put damper on national day fireworks
Communes don't want to pay for fireworks training courses. Photo: Takashi Nishimura

New rules put damper on national day fireworks

Celebrations on Swiss National Day on August 1st may be more muted than usual this year after the government ruled that anyone running a fireworks display must undergo a costly training course. READ  

Youzhny sets up quarter- final clash in Gstaad
Mikhail Youzhny celebrates after winning last year's tournament. Photo: Alain Grosclaude/AFP

Youzhny sets up quarter- final clash in Gstaad

Top seed Mikhail Youzhny began his title defence at the Swiss Open tennis tournament in Gstaad on Thursday with a 6-3, 6-4 defeat of Frenchman Kenny De Schepper. READ  

EU rejects Swiss bid to rejig free movement deal
EU headquarters in Brussels. Photo: Dominique Faget/AFP

EU rejects Swiss bid to rejig free movement deal

The European Union on Thursday formally rejected Switzerland's request to renegotiate their freedom of movement accord so as to take into account a Swiss vote earlier this year to limit immigration, EU sources said. READ  

Strong franc eats into Roche first-half profits
Photo: Roche

Strong franc eats into Roche first-half profits

Pharmaceutical giant Roche on Thursday said its first-half profit fell by seven percent to 5.6 billion francs ($6.2 billion), hit by the strength of Switzerland's currency. READ  

Residents flee as river Emme floods village
Rega helped evacuate homes in the area. Photo: Rega

Residents flee as river Emme floods village

Rega, the Swiss air-ambulance service, evacuated residents of Schangnau in the canton of Bern on Thursday morning as the river Emme broke its banks. READ  

Students race futuristic boats in Lausanne
Students must design a boat that can travel the furthest distance using the least energy. Photo: Hydros

Students race futuristic boats in Lausanne

More than 100 students from six countries are competing in an eco-friendly boat-building competition on Dorigny beach in Lausanne this week. READ  

RECEIVE OUR NEWSLETTER AND ALERTS
Tech
Hackers exploit 'holes' in Swiss online banking systems: IT experts
Sport
Video of Bern football player's spectacular own goal goes global
Tech
Switzerland stays on top of innovation rankings for fourth year
National
Roger Federer and Lindsey Vonn play tennis at Jungfraujoch (VIDEOS)
Business & Money
Competition commission launches probe into Swiss car leasing 'fiddle'
Health
Down's syndrome cases in Switzerland more than double
National
American family files hefty lawsuit over deadly Swiss balloon crash
Features
Graubünden's panoramic Bernina Express celebrates rail history
National
Study rates Zurich as world's fifth most expensive city for expats
National
Swiss-based human brain project directors hit back at research critics
Business & Money
Switzerland gets the edge on EU with China free trade agreement
National
Entries for new Swiss national anthem competition swell over 200
National
Zurich-based helicopter firm denies role in Schumacher medical leak
Culture
Montreux Jazz Festival debuts live internet streaming of concerts
Features
Tour of Bern’s historic fountains tells story of Switzerland's capital
National
Swiss media lament football team's 'cruel' and 'bitter' defeat
International
The Local expands its reach with the launch of new website in Denmark
Sport
Jubilant press hails hat-trick hero Shaqiri as 'Swiss Messi'
National
New website study reveals inequality in Swiss disposable income
Travel
Switzerland’s largest ski area 4-Vallées breaks up over lift dispute
National
VIDEO: Zurich Zoo launches contest to name newborn baby elephant
Business & Money
CEO-to-worker pay gap grows at biggest Swiss firms: union study
Culture
VIDEO: Swiss performance artist plans naked stroll at Art Basel
Latest news from The Local in Austria

More news from Austria at thelocal.at

Latest news from The Local in Germany

More news from Germany at thelocal.de

Latest news from The Local in Denmark

More news from Denmark at thelocal.dk

Latest news from The Local in Spain

More news from Spain at thelocal.es

Latest news from The Local in France

More news from France at thelocal.fr

Latest news from The Local in Italy

More news from Italy at thelocal.it

Latest news from The Local in Norway

More news from Norway at thelocal.no

Latest news from The Local in Sweden

More news from Sweden at thelocal.se

2,183
jobs available