Target: Staff of Switzerland’s State Secretariat of Economic Affairs
Goal: Praise Switzerland for refusing a ski equipment sale to North Korea.
While North Korea has provoked anxiety in the international community for its threats to launch nuclear strikes against the U.S. and South Korea, it has attempted to enlist the aid of some Western European nations to help it build a luxury ski resort. The Swiss government has taken the wise step of disapproving the deal between the North Korean state and the Swiss-based company Bartholet Maschinenbau. In accordance with the U.N sanctions against the Asian state adopted on March 07, 2013, an embargo of luxury goods sales was imposed on the country in retaliation for its underground nuclear test on February 12, 2013.
Switzerland’s State Secretariat of Economic Affairs has lambasted North Korea’s purchase of ski equipment for a newly planned Masik ski resort as a propaganda tactic. In a country afflicted by poverty and low living standards, the North Korean government would be well-advised to focus its financial resources on purchasing food and material supplies that its population sorely lacks. Instead, it has turned this winter sport facility into a priority project whose completion will be fast-tracked by involving a sizable labor force comprised of soldiers. It is to the credit of Switzerland to recognize that a massive financial investment in a large 110 kilometer ski resort in a country whose population lacks the basic necessities for its sustenance and well-being should indeed be qualified as luxury-related spending.
Although the North Korea Skiers Association objected to the ban, arguing that the purchase was not a luxury good intended to glorify the state but instead to benefit the citizens by “providing.. [them] .. with “highly civilised and happy living conditions and make them enjoy all blessings,” Marie Avet of Switzerland’s State Secretariat of Economic Affairs objected, stating that “it is inconceivable that this resort will be used by the general public.”
Since it may be argued that North Korea’s more urgent priorities should be providing for the needs of its indigent population, its focus on the ski resort may be explained by political motivations. The plans for its construction may indeed be nothing but political posturing. Engaged in a game of one-upmanship with South Korea, Kim Jong Un, the country’s supreme leader, may want to steal the spotlight from South Korea’s own ski facilities that it is preparing for its upcoming hosting of the Olympic Winter Games in 2018.
It is impressive that Switzerland has turned down a lucrative sale for one of its companies in favor of making a political statement. Sign this petition to praise Switzerland for its brave choice to send a message to North Korea that its leadership cannot expect international support for building luxurious resorts while it allows its people to wallow in poverty and struggle with hunger.
Dear Staff of Switzerland’s State Secretariat of Economic Affairs,
We applaud you for recognizing that North Korea’s attempt to purchase ski equipment does not serve the needs of its population but merely the dictatorship’s goals of self-promotion. The international community cannot support the leadership of a country in its plans to construct a luxury ski resort while its population must endure miserable living conditions and severe restrictions to rights and freedoms.
Kim Jong Un’s attempt to outdo his South Korean rival in winter sports facilities by investing funds that would be put to better use in improving the lives of his people is a vanity project that Switzerland should be proud not to support. Hopefully, Switzerland’s refusal of a sale deal that would have been lucrative for one of its companies and would have filled its state’s coffers with considerable revenues will remind the world of the need to call attention to how the war-mongering North Korean dictatorship’s spending priorities leave its people in the lurch. Hopefully, in future dealings with Kim Jong Un, the international community will insist that the state’s purchases — whether related to skiing, wine, or chocolate – are not only intended to benefit the government but also its population.
Photo credit: Capricorn4049 via Wikimedia Commons