- The Washington Times - Saturday, June 2, 2007

SWITZERLAND

Restrictions eased on immigrant workers

GENEVA — Switzerland opened its doors a little further Friday to workers from the rest of Europe by dropping decades-old quotas it has maintained on the number of people allowed to seek jobs in the economically booming Alpine country.

More than 400 million citizens of France, Germany, Italy and other wealthy European countries are now able to move to Switzerland, a nation of 7.5 million people that is not part of the 27-member European Union.

The new rules, replacing an annual limit of 15,000 permanent work permits, apply to citizens of EU countries before the bloc expanded on May 1, 2004.

People from non-EU members Liechtenstein, Norway, Iceland, as well as two new EU members — Cyprus and Malta — also will benefit from the change. However, citizens from the 10 former communist nations of Eastern Europe that have since joined the bloc will remain subject to a quota system until at least 2011.

ITALY

Cabinet ministers may join anti-Bush rally

ROME — When President Bush visits Rome this week he will be met with pomp and ceremony by Italy’s leaders, but also by an angry antiwar demonstration that some government ministers have said they might attend.

Prime Minister Romano Prodi said yesterday he hoped none of his ministers — some of them hard-line communists — would attend the rally, although he would not ban them from doing so.

Finance Ministry Undersecretary Paolo Cento, of the pacifist Green Party, has said he is considering attending.

Mr. Bush, who will attend a Group of Eight meeting in Germany this week, is due to arrive in Rome on Friday and meet Mr. Prodi and Pope Benedict XVI on Saturday.

RUSSIA

Opposition picks Kasyanov

MOSCOW — Former Prime Minister Mikhail Kasyanov was nominated yesterday by his opposition movement to run in next year’s presidential election and promised to stop the Kremlin from orchestrating the vote in its favor.

Polls show Mr. Kasyanov’s liberal, pro-Western views are out of step with Russian public opinion and that most voters will back whichever Kremlin insider President Vladimir Putin endorses to replace him when he steps down.

Mr. Kasyanov was removed by Mr. Putin in 2004 after four years at the head of his government, and he accused his former boss of stifling democratic freedoms and handing energy assets to a cabal of Kremlin favorites.

Weekly Notes …

Belgian troops are preparing to battle an invasion of hairy caterpillars that can provoke allergic reactions in humans, authorities announced Friday. From tomorrow, a contingent of 24 soldiers will take part in the fight against the well-organized creepy-crawlies, joining forces with firefighters, civil protection officers and private firms already doing battle against their tiny foes. Authorities said that some 20 communes in the northern Flemish Brabant region have also been hit. … A helicopter taking visitors for rides at an agricultural show in central Italy crashed yesterday, killing four persons, the news agency ANSA reported. The helicopter flew into electricity cables and crashed into a river in the Abruzzo region.

From wire dispatches and staff reports

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