Former minister Graber dies aged 94

Graber was elected with 188 votes to the cabinet in 1969 Keystone Archive

The former Swiss cabinet minister, Pierre Graber, has died at the age of 94.

This content was published on July 21, 2003 - 15:28

The Social Democrat was Switzerland's foreign minister between 1970 and 1978, and held the rotating post of president in 1975.

In a statement released on Monday, the Swiss government said that Graber suffered a stroke in Lausanne on Saturday afternoon after being admitted to hospital on Friday night.

A lawyer by trade, Graber had a long career in local politics in canton Vaud before he arrived on the national stage.

Graber was elected to the cabinet in 1969 and was made Switzerland's foreign minister in February 1970 and was immediately confronted with his first big test as a cabinet minister.

Shortly after he took up his post, a Swissair flight to Tel Aviv was blown up in mid-air, killing 47 people.

In September of the same year, Graber was involved in negotiations following the hijacking of a Swissair plane in Jordan by a group of Palestinians.

Switzerland was one of four countries that controversially freed Arab prisoners in return for the release of hostages.


However, Graber is probably best known for helping to open up Swiss foreign policy, signing several key accords.

He was instrumental in Switzerland joining the European Human Rights convention in 1974.

In 1975, his year as Swiss president, Graber also signed the founding document of the Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe.

Graber was also involved in negotiations on an accord on liberalising trade in Europe, which closed in 1972.

Diplomatic ties

During his time in office, Switzerland also re-established diplomatic ties with communist East Germany, Albania and Vietnam, as well as with countries in the Arab world.

Graber was also the first Swiss cabinet minister to travel to Israel in 1973.

Another interest was humanitarian work, and Graber oversaw the development of foreign aid with the creation of a Swiss disaster relief unit.

Graber was mayor of Lausanne from 1946-49 and was made an honorary citizen of the city in 1981.

Graber described himself on his 90th birthday as “an extremely happy person”. He published his memoirs “Memories and Reflections” in 1992.

The funeral will take place on Thursday in Lausanne.

swissinfo and agencies

Key facts

Graber was born in December 1908.
He studied law and opened an office in Lausanne in 1933.
Graber entered politics in 1934 and was mayor of Lausanne from 1946-49.
He was foreign minister from 1970-1978 and Swiss president in 1975.

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