Switzerland: growing criticism of neutrality

Traditionally neutral Switzerland will continue its policy of not supplying weapons to Ukraine. On 8 March, the National Council voted by a narrow majority to allow arms deliveries - but only if the UN Security Council condemns the invasion of Ukraine, which remains effectively impossible due to Russia's veto. Requests by other countries, including Spain and Denmark, for permission to deliver Swiss arms to Ukraine were rejected accordingly. The national press voices its displeasure.

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Le Temps (CH) /

Embarrassing solo performance

Switzerland is leaving itself isolated with its insistence on neutrality, Le Temps comments with annoyance:

“While all members of democratic Europe are committed to supporting Ukraine's defence, including its military defence, Switzerland - and only Switzerland - is going it alone. Even though the population agrees with the idea of coming to the aid of its neighbours, Swiss MPs are ducking away - out of habit, political calculation, or a lack of vision or courage. ... At the end of this week, Europe can only note Switzerland's sovereign choice of non-solidarity. This decision will have its price.”

Tages-Anzeiger (CH) /

Introduce a neutrality-conform rule

The Tages-Anzeiger argues that it is not Switzerland's responsibility what third countries do with their armaments:

“Many are not happy about the export of war materials. But the tragedy we are currently experiencing is unnecessary. The non-re-export clause in the War Material Act could simply be deleted. The principle must be that Switzerland does not supply weapons to warring parties. It accepts responsibility for this. However, it is up to the purchasers of Swiss arms to decide what they do with them once they have them. That would be a clear and neutrality-compatible regulation.”

Neue Zürcher Zeitung (CH) /

Adopt the Swedish model

The Neue Zürcher Zeitung proposes a different solution:

“Anyone who wants to position Switzerland consistently as part of the free world must take a step forward. ... Of course, giving up neutrality and joining Nato are out of the question. But it would be courageous, liberating and consistent to adopt the model followed by Sweden after 1989: Switzerland remains militarily non-aligned, continues to pursue a pronounced policy of neutrality, but drops its fixed commitment to the law of neutrality. ... Such a progressive neutrality policy probably wouldn't secure the support of a majority yet, but it is the counter-model to a neutral standstill.”