Borer recall dominates Swiss headlines

The Swiss press noted that Thomas Borer's days in Berlin were over

The foreign ministry's decision to recall the Swiss ambassador to Germany, Thomas Borer, has drawn mixed reactions from the Swiss press.

This content was published on April 11, 2002 - 14:33

The majority of Swiss newspapers carried the story on their front pages, with the notable exception of the German-language daily, "Neue Zürcher Zeitung", which buried it on page 13.

"The party's over" blared the "Blick" newspaper, which broke the story 11 days ago in its Sunday edition, the "SonntagsBlick".

The newspaper quoted foreign ministry official Bruno Frick, saying that "if you act like a big star, then you have to expect to be treated like one". He was referring to the near-celebrity status of Borer and his glamorous wife, Shawne Fielding.

The paper also noted the reaction of Djamile Rowe, the beautician with whom Borer is accused of having an affair. The SonntagsBlick alleged that the 34-year-old woman visited the embassy in Berlin on several occasions.

"I'm glad I'll no longer bump into him in Berlin," she is quoted as saying, "I can now move around without having to think about him."


The French-language daily, "Le Temps", splashed a cartoon over its front page of a Deiss caricature telling reporters "My editor-in-chief and I have decided to recall Mr Borer".

The paper's Berlin correspondent, François Modoux, reported that the embassy in the German capital sees the decision as "too heavy-handed", "unjust", and "a scandal".

Klaus Wowereit, the mayor of Berlin, told Le Temps that he wanted to thank Borer for all the work he had done, saying he had worked well. "I wish him every success elsewhere," he added.

Markus Nonenmacher, head of Credit Suisse in Germany, is quoted as saying the decision to recall Borer to Bern was "too severe".

"The man...must go"

Switzerland's German-language daily, "Der Bund ", carried the headline, "The man in Berlin must go", highlighting how the government had been swayed to take a political decision based on a tabloid news story.

It contained comment from Professor of Sociology Kurt Imhof, who expressed concern about how Deiss's move had sent a bad signal to the tabloid media by playing into their hands.

Popular debate

For the past week, the story has gripped Switzerland's popular press, and fuelled a debate about the privacy of public figures and journalism standards.

Borer accused the Ringier publishing group, which owns the Blick newspaper, of pursuing a relentless campaign to destroy his reputation. His wife, Shawne Fielding has also branded the story a "sordid slur".

The Blick's editor, Jürg Lehmann, defended the story and called Borer a "sad fool", who had attempted to deny the nature of his meetings with Djamile Rowe by discrediting her.

"Thomas Borer bragged about his prestige in Germany and stirred up a patriotic revolt in his home land."

Lehmann said Borer had no respect for his "loved ones, no respect for his position [and] no respect for the Swiss people".

Strong words for Borer

As the Swiss capital, Bern, awaits Borer's return later this month, opinion amongst Bernese over his recall is divided.

One young man told swissinfo that Borer's private life was of no interest to the rest of the world, while another woman said that the stylish diplomat had to return because the allegations surrounding him tarnished his reputation.

"I think it's a pity," said another, "because he was good at presenting a modern image of Switzerland." One Bernese man found it unfair that former United States President Bill Clinton managed to hold on to his job despite his dalliances, while Borer was fired.

by Sally Mules

In compliance with the JTI standards

In compliance with the JTI standards

More: SWI certified by the Journalism Trust Initiative

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