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The lure of high-yield fusion

Jean-Claude Komarovsky hears a mating call in the high Alps and meets an old friend from California.

On the Gornergrat, beneath the shadow of the Matterhorn, a bleat on the mobile.

"This is Franz in Vienna." He's in a lather about someone in Switzerland. "It might have been a Swede, his German was so bad," says Franz. I hear him crack his knuckles as he paces his vast office and rants through the squawk-box. "Will these amateurs never learn? An Anschluss is a two-sided affair."

It seems this person, claiming to be prime minister, was suggesting a merger. "One experience with that Bavarian clown was enough!" rages Franz.

I try to calm him. Actually the proposal's not such a bad idea, I say. There are many synergies and economies of scale in cowbell manufacture, Alpenstocks and Lederhosen; the combined retail power of Sachertorte and Toblerone, Viennese waltzes accompanied on the Alpenhorn. Liechtenstein could be the regional HQ.

"You don't understand, Komarovsky. This guy is after my job. I can smell it."

"You think you'll have one after 1999? Look Franz, this man has seen the writing on the wall. When the euro arrives, the Swiss franc is finished. Since his people have more chance of developing a sense of humour than voting to join the EU he thinks maybe he cross-fertilizes with you, and he'll take them through the back door.

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