News

Swiss move towards vote on reinforcing neutrality

By AFP

March 20, 2024 05:56 PM


Twitter Share Facebook Share WhatsApp Share

Switzerland is set to vote on reinforcing its neutrality, campaigners said Wednesday, Russia's war in Ukraine having reopened questions over the country's long-standing position on non-engagement in foreign conflicts.

The sovereigntist organisation Pro Switzerland has collected more than enough signatures to launch a vote aimed at better anchoring Swiss neutrality in the country's constitution, its vice president Walter Wobmann told Blick newspaper.

They want to restrict non-military measures such as sanctions, to prevent any closer ties with NATO and to rule out any military alliance except if attacked.

Under Switzerland's direct democracy system, citizens can trigger popular votes by collecting 100,000 valid signatures within 18 months.

"We collected nearly 140,000 signatures," Wobmann said.

"On April 11, we will submit the initiative" to the federal authorities. "Until then, we will continue to collect signatures."

Once petition signatures are submitted and verified, it generally takes months, or even years, before a vote takes place.

Switzerland's traditional position is one of well-armed military neutrality.

It has refused to send arms to Kyiv or allow countries that hold Swiss-made weaponry to re-export it to Ukraine.

But it has matched the neighbouring European Union's economic sanctions on Russia since the February 2022 full-scale invasion of Ukraine -- a move vigorously denounced by the hard-right Swiss People's Party (SVP), the biggest party in the country.

Matching the EU sanctions has also been criticised by Moscow, which no longer sees Switzerland as neutral territory for international negotiations and has blocked UN-sponsored talks on Syria from resuming in Geneva.

- Fewer sanctions proposed -

The Swiss constitution already ensures that parliament and the government must uphold Switzerland's neutrality, but Pro Switzerland wants to go further.

Their vote proposal calls for the constitution to guarantee that Swiss neutrality is "armed and perpetual" and applied "permanently and without exception".

Non-military coercive measures -- namely sanctions -- would also be prohibited, except when decided upon by the United Nations.

Pro Switzerland is also opposed to closer ties with NATO and wants the constitution to prohibit joining a military alliance, except in the event of a direct military attack against the country.

"Only when we are directly attacked could we ally ourselves with others. If we are turned into a party to war, we must defend ourselves," said Wobmann, a former SVP lawmaker.

Swiss neutrality traces its roots back to 1516 and has been internationally recognised since 1815.

Switzerland cannot participate in wars between other countries, forge military alliances, or grant troops, weapons or territorial transit rights to warring parties.

All men are obliged to do military service and attend refresher courses for years afterwards.

The neutrality laws do not apply to civil wars, or military operations authorised by the UN Security Council.


AFP


Most Read

  1. Punjab ministry, school education dept toy with summer vacations announcement Punjab ministry, school education dept toy with summer vacations announcement
  2. Iran President Raisi, foreign minister die in helicopter crash Iran President Raisi, foreign minister die in helicopter crash
  3. Sarah Ali Khan to tie the knot with a rich guy this year, say rumors Sarah Ali Khan to tie the knot with a rich guy this year, say rumors
  4. 'Heeramandi's 'Tajdar', Taha Shah’s handsome debut at Cannes is everything fans wanted 'Heeramandi's 'Tajdar', Taha Shah’s handsome debut at Cannes is everything fans wanted
  5. Anmol Baloch brushes off dating rumours with Hamza Sohail Anmol Baloch brushes off dating rumours with Hamza Sohail
  6. NA148 by-polls results: PPP’s Qasim Gilani leading with 78,278 votes NA148 by-polls results: PPP’s Qasim Gilani leading with 78,278 votes

Opinion

  1. New twist in PTI founder’s strategy towards Military Establishment
    New twist in PTI founder’s strategy towards Military Establishment

    By Salim Bokhari

  2. Revoke the heat stroke
    Revoke the heat stroke

    By Dr Asif Channer

  3. Defiance, sacrifice & national resilience
    Defiance, sacrifice & national resilience

    By Naveed Aman Khan

  4. Maryam Nawaz Sharif's Police Uniform: Breaking Gender Stereotypes, Not Minds
    Maryam Nawaz Sharif's Police Uniform: Breaking Gender Stereotypes, Not Minds

    By Alysha Khan

  5. Pak-Saudi-Iran economic proximity
    Pak-Saudi-Iran economic proximity

    By News Desk

  6. Military Establishment rules out any deal with what it terms a ‘bunch of anarchists’
    Military Establishment rules out any deal with what it terms a ‘bunch of anarchists’

    By Salim Bokhari