Should Switzerland comply with Zelensky’s requests?
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky addressed the Swiss parliament per video on Thursday, appealing for solidarity and calling on it to allow the export of Swiss-made war materials to third countries, something Switzerland has so far refused to do citing its neutrality. The Swiss People’s Party (SVP), the strongest parliamentary group, did not attend the session on the same grounds.
Holding a mirror up to the Swiss
With his demands, the Ukrainian president is showing that Switzerland could do more to help, the Tages-Anzeiger concludes:
“Switzerland did take a small step this week: the Federal Council wants to release 25 mothballed tanks to Germany. The move is intended to fill the gaps in German stocks that have resulted from Berlin supplying heavy military equipment to Kyiv. ... And yes, Switzerland supports the sanctions imposed by the EU and the US. But at the same time we don’t want to know exactly who is dealing in Russian oil in Geneva, or which lawyers are creating which shell companies for which oligarchs. A special committee to shed light on the situation and freeze more assets? The Council of States decided this week that there was no need for that.”
Don’t gamble away neutrality
Switzerland would do well to exercise restraint, the Neue Zürcher Zeitung cautions:
“At the moment no one knows exactly what applies in terms of neutrality. Some act as if nothing has changed: ‘Switzerland is and remains neutral’, the Federal Council insists. Others try to interpret neutrality flexibly, which in turn causes others to protest. ... With all due understanding for the need to show solidarity with Ukraine and demonstrate to the world that with the West we are on the right side: at some point this deplorable war will be over, and it is to be hoped that the politicians will not have completely gambled away the neutrality that is deeply anchored in the Swiss soul.”
Assume the role of peacemaker instead
Le Courrier advises against military support for Ukraine:
“On Thursday, the Ukrainian president very cleverly highlighted the mediating role which Switzerland is so fond pf playing. And he did so above all by inviting our country to organise a global peace summit. But let’s see if Russia doesn’t already deem Thursday’s audio-visual intervention to have been too much. Swiss participation in the arms deliveries would not change anything in this conflict; a peacemaking role would undoubtedly have an incomparable impact.”