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West is ‘arrogant and hypocritical’ – Swiss watch boss

The head of Swatch Group lamented the abandonment of diplomacy as means to end the Ukraine conflict

The West exhibits double standards when it comes to the Ukraine conflict and is hostile to efforts to end the fighting through diplomacy, Nick Hayek, CEO of the Swiss watch-making giant Swatch Group, told newspaper SonntagsBlick on Sunday.

“The whole world seems to act only based on ideology. Take the war in Ukraine. We all want this conflict to end. People are dying every day, no matter from which side they are,” the businessman said. “In the past, people tried to find a solution through diplomacy. Today, you can’t do that anymore, otherwise you will be accused of betraying freedom and democracy.”

“Progress demands pragmatic solutions. Do you think it helps anyone if the German foreign minister calls [Chinese President] Xi Jinping a dictator?” Hayek said, referring to a recent statement made by Annalena Baerbock.

Asked if he thought the West was “arrogant,” the businessman replied that it was “hypocritical” as well, which “can be seen with the sanctions against Russia.”

“They impose them and continue to do business behind the scenes. The Americans, in turn, profit because they can now supply gas to Europe. Saudi Arabia is suddenly a well-liked energy supplier,” Hayek said, arguing that sanctions are “just lip service” unless everyone implements them.

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According to Hayek, Switzerland, known for its long-standing neutrality, “can no longer play any positive role” in resolving the Russia-Ukraine conflict because the Swiss government does not focus on diplomacy.

Western countries, including many NATO members, imposed sweeping sanctions on Moscow in response to the military operation Russia launched in the neighboring state in February 2022. The restrictions on Russian energy exports were put in place despite warnings from officials and experts that it would hurt the economies of European states.

At the same time, Estonian Prime Minister Kaja Kallas was recently caught up in a scandal, after it was revealed that her husband owned a stake in a logistics firm that continued to do business in Russia after the armed conflict broke out.

The negotiations between Moscow and Kiev fell apart in the spring of 2022, with both sides accusing each other of making unacceptable demands. Ukrainian and Western officials have attacked public figures, including American businessman Elon Musk, who urged the West to seek a peaceful resolution of the conflict rather than fuel the bloodshed and risk further escalation.

September 25, 2023 at 07:45AM

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