Friday, March 24, 2023

Ukraine: Swiss President defends neutrality, Ukraine arms embargo – Usky News

Geneva: Swiss neutrality is more important than ever, President Alain Berset said in an interview published on Sunday, defending a controversial ban on the transfer of Swiss-made weapons to Ukraine.
“Swiss weapons should not be used in wars,” he said. NZZ I’m Sonntag Weekly.
The long tradition of neutrality has been hotly debated since Russia’s full-scale invasion of Ukraine in February 2022.
while the rich alpine The country, which is not a member of the European Union while following the bloc’s lead on sanctions targeting Moscow, has so far shown little flexibility on its military neutrality.
despite the pressure of Kyiv and its allies, Switzerland continues to block countries that block Swiss-made weaponry from re-exporting Ukraine.
To date, requests have been made to Germany, Spain and Denmark. Ben Rejected under the War Materials Act, which prohibits all re-exports when the recipient country is in an international armed conflict.
Berset told NZZ that the policy was based on a “commitment to peace, to humanitarian law, to mediation where possible”.
Switzerland’s role as the seat of the International Committee of the Red Cross and the Geneva Conventions, as well as the European headquarters of the United Nations, “is reflected in our laws, including those relating to arms exports”, he said.
The protection of humanitarian and human rights law and the Geneva Conventions “may be out of date to some, but it is more important than ever,” he warned, adding that “throwing these fundamental principles overboard now would be extremely dangerous”.
“As far as Switzerland is concerned, war is not part of the DNA,” Berset said, stressing his country’s aim to be present “wherever we can mediate and contribute to peace”. .
He said he believed that talks with Russia were needed to end the war in Ukraine, “the sooner the better”.
And he condemned “war hysteria in some circles” amid calls for Switzerland to abandon neutrality.
This means “there is no indifference” and can make “adjustments”, he said, pointing to the “unprecedented sanctions” Switzerland has imposed on Russia.
Several initiatives are underway in parliament to relax re-export rules to make it possible for Swiss-made weapons to be transferred to Ukraine by third countries.
But Berset insisted that the government’s “position is clear. It also coincides with my personal position. Swiss weapons should not be used in wars.”
The process for a final decision is likely to take months, with debate between parliament and the government, followed by a possible referendum under Switzerland’s system of direct democracy.


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