Federal Bern will have to get used to it: while the war in Ukraine continues, foreign requests for Swiss arms exports are likely to follow one another. That is why the debate on neutrality does not subside. The confederation is in a delicate position: its neutral status does not allow it to give preference to the militant in military terms; at the same time, politicians and European powers are pushing it to increase assistance to the Kyiv regime, which Russia has invaded in violation of international law.
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This Friday, the Federal Council will have the opportunity to reconsider this issue. Germany insists on obtaining various Swiss weapons, including the ammunition promised to Ukraine to equip Cheetah tanks. What’s worse, Denmark has made a similar request and wants to send Swiss-made Piranha tanks to Kyiv. Rundschau German-language SRF television. The law requires the State Secretariat of Economics (Seco) to reject requests.
Until the export bans are maintained
The Federal Council is under pressure. German Defense Minister Christine Lambrecht has just written to Guy Parmelin, the Minister for the Sale of Weapons Abroad, informs us about Daily advertiser. Therefore, the government may discuss this again during its weekly meeting. After the announcement, various forecasts dominate in various federal agencies: it will remain within the legal status quo, and requests for arms exports in favor of Ukraine will continue to be rejected. A majority of ministers would join the position of Federal Councilor Guy Parmelen. The scenario to be tested this Friday is never ruled out.
The main reason: neutrality. If the law on military materials restricts exports to countries at war and prohibits re-exports to countries that buy Swiss military equipment, it is obviously to respect historical status. According to a high-ranking official, it would not be possible to change the law on arms sales without revising the policy of neutrality and even the federal constitution. This would mean launching a large-scale political process lasting several years, a key part of which is a popular vote.
A report on the famous neutrality is expected from the Federal Department of Foreign Affairs. But its publication is unlikely to happen in a few weeks.
New reinforcements in parliament
In addition, the context is not conducive to the liberalization of arms exports. Only last fall did parliament tighten legislation. Under pressure from the people’s initiative, it not only refused to supply countries in the civil war – as the Federal Council wanted in the 2018 draft – but also eliminated the possibility of supplying dictatorships that seriously and systematically violate human rights.
This chronicle is about neutrality: Fire at “indecent” neutrality
Going back a few months seems at least politically difficult. That’s why Center President Gerhard Pfister raised the wave with a recent proposal. Despite the fact that his party supported the turn of the propeller approved in the chambers, he did not hesitate to support the supply of weapons to Ukraine. His argument: The Federal Council could refer to the embargo law, Article 1 of which provides an opportunity to “protect the interests of the country.” The interests that Ukrainian democracy will now defend as it defends itself against the Russian autocratic regime and the expansion plans that some attribute to it.
The argument has so far been unconvincing. Ironically, a high-ranking federal official rejects that the recently revised law on arms exports should normally also apply during the war.