President Arnold Koller expressed deep regret to Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu Friday for the "monstrous, unspeakable wrong" of the Holocaust.
Netanyahu and Koller said they would make every effort to calm the emotional atmosphere that has enveloped Swiss-Jewish relations in recent weeks.This will help international investigative commissions uncover any Swiss wrongdoing against Holocaust victims, Koller said.
"We're serious when we say we want the full truth also about the troubling time of our history," Koller told reporters after meeting with Netanyahu.
"I also expressed to Mr. Netanyahu the deep regret of the Swiss government over the monstrous, unspeakable wrong of the Holocaust," Koller said. "We (also) strictly reject every form of anti-Semitism in this country."
Koller succeeded Jean-Pascal Delamuraz as Swiss president Jan. 1 after Delamuraz created an international storm of protest by rejecting as "blackmail" Jewish suggestions that the Swiss set up a $250 million fund for Holocaust victims pending the outcome of the commissions' work.
Delamuraz later apologized, but only after an increased show of anti-Semitism in the country.
Switzerland, a neutral country surrounded by German forces and their allies during World War II, provided a haven for some Jewish refugees and bank safety for their assets.
But the country also turned away 30,000 Jewish refugees, and heirs of some Holocaust victims claim they have never been able to recover the assets of their family members killed by the Nazis.
Swiss banks and Jewish organizations have formed a joint commission to look for unclaimed assets, and the Swiss government has appointed a commission of Swiss and foreign historians to look at the role of Switzerland before, during and after World War II.
Switzerland has twice previously paid compensation for unclaimed assets, but the issue was revived with the 50th anniversary of the end of the war.
Earlier Friday, a senior U.S. official toned down Washington's criticism of a memo that led to the resignation of the Swiss ambassador to the United States.
U.S. undersecretary of commerce Stuart Eizenstat said the memo that portrayed Switzerland as being at war with American Jewish organizations and others over its handling of Holocaust assets did contain some "very strong, unfortunate wording."
But a study of the full memo found no signs of anti-Semitism, Eizenstat said in Davos.