Ambassador Claudia Fritsche at the International Student House
On January 22 Ambassador Claudia Fritsche together with her colleague Ambassador Maguy Maccario Doyle of Monaco visited the International Student House in Washington, DC to talk about the challenges of representing small nations in the United States. The discussion was moderated by Barbara Slavin from the Atlantic Council.
Ambassador Claudia Fritsche, Barbara Slavin and Ambassador Maguy Maccario Doyle.
Ambassador Fritsche pointed out that at the beginning of her diplomatic career in 1979, she was the only woman in the Liechtenstein Foreign Service. Nowadays 40% of Liechtenstein diplomats are women. Ambassador Fritsche mentioned that she invites every female ambassador in DC for lunch because she believes that these personal connections are very important. Ambassador Maccario Doyle began her career in 1976 at the Monaco Government Tourist Office in New York and was promoted to Consul General in 1997, making her the first woman ever to hold that position worldwide.
In answering a question about financial services and US-Liechtenstein relations, Ambassador Fritsche pointed out that over the past 15 years the relationship with the US government has focused much on financial services. Liechtenstein has signed agreements and treaties with the US opening up effective channels in information sharing aimed at combatting financial crimes including money laundering, tax fraud and tax evasion. Ambassador Fritsche also stressed that despite having the reputation of being a financial center, Liechtenstein is highly industrialized. Around 38% of Liechtenstein's GDP comes from industry, making it the largest contributor to the country's economy. Ambassador Maccario Doyle stressed that due to the very small size of Monaco the country does not have any industry and therefore fully depends on the financial and service sectors.
On Liechtenstein's immigration policy, Ambassador Fritsche stated that the Muslim population has doubled within the last decade alone and that immigration is a heavily discussed domestic issue. Although Liechtenstein is not a member of the European Union, it has special arrangements with the EU related to immigration: due to its small geographic size Liechtenstein has a more stringent immigration policy as it would be unable to take on large numbers of immigrants. On the other hand the country depends on foreigners for its economy. Over 17,000 people commute daily to Liechtenstein from neighborhing countries to work. Therefore, finding the golden mean is a challenge.
The International Student House is a non-profit organization founded in the 1930s. Since then, the ISH has the goal to bridge different cultures and to offer housing to international students and interns. Besides offering daily interactions with people from all over the world, the ISH organizes on a regular basis events that include conversations with high-ranking diplomats and politicians.