Today in Switzerland: A roundup of the latest news on Thursday
Swiss forest rangers fear thieves will target trees for firewood, flights to US and Canada back to pre-pandemic levels and other news from Switzerland on Thursday.
Swiss forests could be targeted by those looking to stock up on firewood
With Switzerland and other European nations threatened by a shortage of gas or electricity this winter those who have fireplaces have taken to stocking up on supplies fo firewood.
The chairman of the Federal Electricity Commission, Werner Luginbühl, even recommended on Sunday that people should build up reserves in the event of a disaster scenario.
But as a result forest rangers fear many will take to the forests to illegally build up their supplies.
Neighbouring Germany has already seen people take to the forests to chop down trees for firewood, but so far Switzerland has been spared this kind of phenomenon.
But perhaps not for long.
Thomas Studer, director of a forestry operation in the canton of Solothurn told 20 Minutes: “Wood supplies are melting like snow in the sun."
He fears there will be a rise in thefts in the coming weeks in the Swiss forests.
He said many walkers were already picking up branches that have fallen to the ground. He urged people to be responsible but warned that thieves would be punished because Swiss forests were not "self-service".
"It's theft and therefore punishable," he said.
Airline tickets from Swiss to US and Canada reach pre-pandemic levels
Airline Edelweiss, a subsidiary of Swiss, has reported that its takings for July exceeded pre-pandemic levels, thanks in part to the renewed interest in flights from Switzerland to the US and Canada.
The carrier suggests it has seen "record" monthly figures for July thanks to the rebound in tourism and travel during the summer season.
In July, Edelweiss carried 304,039 passengers, up 3 percent compared to July 2019, the company said in a statement on Wednesday.
Flights to the United States, Canada and the Dominican Republic were particularly popular.
Parent company Swiss returned to profit in the first half after two years of losses caused by the coronavirus pandemic. The company is now aiming to return to operational profitability for the whole of 2022.
Swiss could represent Ukraine diplomatically in Russia
Ukraine has asked Switzerland to represent it diplomatically in Russia, Bern confirmed Wednesday, stressing though that
Moscow would need to accept the arrangement for it to go ahead, AFP reported on Wednesday.
Ever since Russia launched its full-scale invasion of Ukraine on February 24, Switzerland -- renowned for its neutrality -- has said it stood ready to provide diplomatic assistance and to serve as a go-between.
The foreign ministry said Wednesday that Ukraine had requested that Switzerland "assume a protecting power mandate" for Kyiv in Russia, confirming a story in the Luzerner Zeitung newspaper.
The foreign ministry explained that such protecting power mandates "allow states to maintain low-level relations and provide consular protection to nationals of the other state concerned".
"The corresponding negotiations have been completed," a ministry spokeswoman told AFP in an email.
Switzerland to impose stricter welfare rules for Ukrainian refugees
So far, refugees from Ukraine have received preferential treatment when it comes to social assistance applications, SRF reported. Unlike refugees admitted from other countries, wealthy Ukrainians have also been able to receive social assistance in Switzerland.
However, from now on, their assets in Ukraine will be taken into account during the applications, the report stated. This includes jewellery, cars, but also bank assets or properties in Ukraine.