Maintain Neutrality, President of Switzerland Blocks Re-export of Weapons to be Sent to Ukraine

Maintain Neutrality, President of Switzerland Blocks Re-export of Weapons to be Sent to Ukraine

Unlike most countries in Europe which are so enthusiastic about supplying weapons to Ukraine, Switzerland, which is known as a country that upholds neutrality for centuries, seems to be under pressure from the countries around it.

Behind its natural beauty, who would have thought, Switzerland holds the title of the 14th global arms exporter. Quite a number of weapons manufacturers come from Switzerland, which has recently been linked to efforts to test Swiss neutrality, especially in the Russia versus Ukraine war which has been going on for more than a year.

Responding to international pressure, Swiss President Alain Berset said in an interview published Sunday, that he was defending a controversial ban on transferring Swiss-made weapons to Ukraine. "Swiss neutrality is more important than ever," said Alain Berset.

"Swiss weapons cannot be used in war," he told the NZZ am Sonntag weekly. The long tradition of neutrality has been hotly debated since Russia's all-out invasion of Ukraine in February 2022.

Despite pressure from Ukraine and its allies, Switzerland has until recently continued to block countries possessing Swiss-made weapons from re-exporting them to Ukraine. To date, requests from Germany, Spain and Denmark have been rejected under the War Materials Act, which prohibits all re-exports if the receiving country is in an international armed conflict.

Berset told NZZ that the policy was based on a "commitment to peace, humanitarian law, mediation whenever possible."

Switzerland's role as the seat of the International Committee of the Red Cross and the Geneva Conventions, as well as the European headquarters of the United Nations "is reflected in our legislation, including those relating to arms exports," he said.

The protection of humanitarian law and human rights and the Geneva Conventions "may sound outdated to some, but they are more important than ever," he said, warning that "it is very dangerous to throw these basic principles overboard now."

"As far as Switzerland is concerned, war is not part of the DNA," Berset said, stressing his country aims "to be present wherever we can contribute to mediation and peace."

He said he believed negotiations with Russia were necessary to end the war in Ukraine, "the sooner the better."

Of the many Swiss-origin armament manufacturers, some of the names we already know, because many Swiss-made weapons products are also operated by the TNI, such as Brügger & Thomet and SIG Sauer, which supply individual hand-held weapons and ammunition, and there is Rheinmetall Air Defense, which known as the Oerlikon canon manufactures.

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