Should neutral states remain neutral?

The Nato accession applications of Sweden and Finland have also reignited the debate about neutrality in non-aligned Switzerland and Austria. Seventy-five percent of Austrians still reject Nato membership, according to a survey put out by Austria's Institute for Public Opinion and Data Analysis. Commentators see the need for more debate.

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Neue Zürcher Zeitung (CH) /

Neutrality is a means, not an end

The concept of neutrality leaves a certain room for manoeuvre, René Rhinow, law professor and former politician of the liberal FDP, reminds readers in the NZZ:

“Swiss neutrality has always been understood as a flexible instrument of security policy, not as an actual goal in itself. Since 1993, the Federal Council has moved away from the restrictive neutrality policy of the post-war period, and reduced it to its military core. ... First and foremost, Switzerland's foreign and security policy must be based on the Federal Constitution. ... Armed neutrality is an instrument that is to be measured against these constitutional goals - and not against past successes.”

Kronen Zeitung (AT) /

Accession has no advantages for now

Kronen Zeitung editor Kurt Seinitz argues that neutrality is not an outdated model:

“The comparison with Scandinavia is misleading. The northern countries have Russia on their doorstep and feel threatened, Austria has neutral Switzerland on its doorstep and is surrounded by Nato states. We are free riders. This probably means that we should also discuss our neutrality - with an open mind. However, a change of system would have to offer enormous added value. For the time being I don't see any of that. ... Right now it's important to keep Austria out of the war and its consequences. ... Later on there will be other occasions to decide on Austria's security architecture.”

La Tribune (FR) /

A new era of bloc building

Political scientist Cyrille Bret comments in La Tribune:

“Whether non-membership in Nato is freely chosen (Austria, Ireland, etc.) or imposed (Ukraine, Georgia, Moldova), only membership in the Alliance is now seen as a security guarantee. Soon all states in the wider European area will be forced to take sides: in Europe, this means an end to neutrality, and the disappearance of buffer zones and ambiguous stances. Military blocs are gradually forming, with the result that Europe will henceforth be criss-crossed by a permanent front line.”