Switzerland's ambassador to the United States says the relationship between European countries and America is going to need to be even stronger if Europe is to stay free of communist rule.
Carlo Jagmetti, in Utah at the invitation of the State Centennial Committee, spoke in the David M. Kennedy Center for International Studies on Thursday.Doug Tobler, introducing Jagmetti, said Utah has the highest percentage per capita of people of Swiss descent of any state in the union.
Jagmetti said for his generation, geography was easy to learn. "You had Western Europe and the Communist Empire until the breakup of 1990.
"It is a bitter irony," he said, "that the joy of freedom from communism was short-lived, replaced by new worries about an uncertain future."
Jagmetti said expectations were not and are not being met quickly enough despite some countries being determined to give democracy a fair chance.
"Elections in Hungary, Bulgaria, Poland, show the voters still want democracy," said Jagmetti.
He said new economic development comes slowly and that social structures developed under communism are still basically in place.
Ideas introduced through a variety of European-American organizations "slowly seeped through and helped caused the political communistic downfall," he said.
However, most of those organizations, including NATO, have not adapted to the new situation.
He said the Council of Europe should be a fortress for human rights but has accepted countries like Croatia and Russia, which stretches the credibility of the organization as one with members of like ideals.
The only European organization that has proven to be operational and influential is the European Union, he said. "It's the only solid structure cementing former enemies into friends and making progress toward building peace."
But, he said, EU has a long way to go before it can provide military direction or political stability to its membership.
"Nobody has any interest in the failure of this union," he said. "But the future of Europe is closely linked to the United States."
To bring economic success and a respect for human rights, western Europe needs "an even stronger cooperation" with the democracy it's trying to emulate, he said.
"Europe will have a tough time adjusting while dangers are looming, but the opportunities are enormous. Rarely has Europe had such an opportunity."
Jagmetti painted four scenarios for Europe from a worst case that includes the undoing of all of the work of the past decade and widespread conflict to one that sees Europe coping in various degrees of balance.
"Europe has been through decline and disaster several times," said Jagmetti, so that would not be an end-all surprise, but "when we look from Switzerland to the world around us, we expect Europe to walk on the path of peace to a market economy and respect for human rights."
Switzerland wants to continue to live up to its reputation of neutrality, he said, but being in the heart of Europe, it feels a need for close ties. Switzerland is not prepared to give up independence or its federalism but wants to remain open to the world.
"Our relationship with the United States is of paramount importance. We cannot be an ally but an old, solid friend," he said.