Italy has accused Switzerland of holding hostage all the members of Europe’s Schengen countries. This comes after Libya stopped issuing visas to citizens from the 25 European nations covered by the Schengen pact — some of which are not in the European Union, such as Switzerland.
Officials said it was in retaliation for a Swiss ban on a select group of high-placed Libyans.
Italy’s foreign minister told Euronews Switzerland misused the Schengen agreement:
“The Swiss mustn’t use Schengen for aims which have nothing to do with Schengen. We know very well that Switzerland has just entered Schengen but before taking a decision that can rebound on countries that are completely uninvolved, they should hold consultations. And Switzerland didn’t consult us.”
The Swiss-Libya row dates from 2008 when a son of Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi was arrested on charges of assaulting two of his servants while at a hotel in Geneva. A Swiss businessman was later arrested in Libya.
Frattini told an Italian newspaper Schengen is meant to protect its members from criminals and terrorists, and the Swiss should use other means to resolve bilateral problems with Libya.
An EU spokesman deplored Tripoli’s unilateral visa freeze.