Cleaning service in outer space
Switzerland is contributing 542 million Swiss francs to the new five-year budget of the European Space Agency (ESA). By doing so, it is consolidating its role in space research. Switzerland is leading the way in several programmes, such as in the mission to locate space junk and bring down old satellites with controlled re-entry.
Tension between Berne and Colombo
At the end of November, an employee of the Swiss embassy in the Sri Lankan capital Colombo was kidnapped and forced to reveal confidential information. The Swiss authorities condemned the attack, labelling it “extremely serious and unacceptable”. The Sri Lankan government disputes the Swiss account of the events. Observers suspect that the incident may be connected to the flight of a high-ranking Sri Lankan official to Switzerland.
Reformed church supports “Marriage for All”
In November, the delegates of the Federation of Swiss Protestant Churches voted overwhelmingly to back moves to allow homosexual couples to marry. Despite the decision, reformed pastors are still free to decide whether they wish to marry same-sex couples, or not. The landmark decision supporting “Marriage for All” was also made against the backdrop of the Green Liberals’ parliamentary initiative: they are demanding that all couples be allowed to enter into legally regulated domestic partnerships – irrespective of their sex or sexual orientation.
Wind park fails due to landscape protection
There will be no large park with wind turbines built in the canton of Grisons. The voters of the local municipality of Lugnez have rejected the plan to build 18 windmills, each more than 100 metres in height, around the 2,357-metre-high Um Su mountain. They submitted that it is more important to protect the Alpine landscape than to build an ecologically viable wind park.
Geneva airport: people want to have their say
The Genevans want to have their democratic say in the future of Geneva airport. They voted overwhelmingly at the ballot box in favour of anchoring their right to co-determination in the Geneva constitution. Under the new regulations, not only economic aspects must be considered when developing the airport, but also environmental protection and the quality of life of the local residents. Business circles vehemently opposed the change, but without success.