Saturday, 16 December 2006

Communication problems

Following the earth tremor of 8 December, Weil's mayor, Wolfgang Dietz, wrote to Barbara Schneider, one of the city councillors in Basle, to express his concern on behalf of the upstanding citzens of Weil that Swiss officials couldn't be bothered to inform anyone on this side of the border about what caused the quake. Herr Dietz and Frau Schneider have a bit of previous, shall we say, dating from a couple of years back when they were in opposing camps during the Germany vs Switzerland "Zollfreie Straße" controversy (long story, will cover that one another time - suffice to say that the Swiss didn't have a leg to stand on).

Anyway, this time Dietz socked it to Basle again, lambasting the lack of communication coming from the city. The first he heard of the little matter of geothermal activities in Kleinhüningen having been the trigger was through the press, he said. The tremor had also caused a great deal of unnecessary worry and agitation among Weil's residents, so reports said. Dietz wasn't alone in expressing his concern: his counterpart from St Louis (F), also gave Basle a pièce of his mind.

My personal view of all this is that seems a bit strange for the Swiss to bang on about romantic notions of tri-border cooperation when they can't even stick their finger out to inform their close neighbours about the background to last week's events. Incidentally, a fortnight or so ago a free brochure landed in my letter box entitled "metrobasel". It was full of glossy pictures and "visions" of how cross-border cooperation can be harnessed to consolidate Basle's economic prosperity. It had plenty of quotes from Basle's councillors, academics and captains of industry, talking about ambitious rail and building projects etc., but notably not a peep from anyone either from France or Germany. I then saw the list of the project's official partners at the back of the brochure and it read like a who's who of Basle's corporate movers and shakers. Now, there is a temptation to be cynical here and suggest that Weil and Lörrach, or Huningue and St Louis for that matter, weren't even consulted about this important project either.

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