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Jet ban "threatens national sovereignty"

Defence Minister Samuel Schmid has criticised an initiative to ban military flights in tourist zones, one month before a national vote on the issue.

This content was published on January 24, 2008 - 13:23

Schmid reiterated his view on Thursday that by restricting training and patrol flights - which often take place over the Alps - Switzerland would be abandoning a duty to citizens.

"If a country cannot guarantee the security of its own airspace, it cannot carry out the duties the law requires," he said.

Schmid has the support of air force chief Walter Knutti, who stated the proposal was incompatible with national security objectives.

Environmentalists and community groups claim the flights are loud, disruptive and environmentally damaging.

The driving force behind the initiative, environmentalist Franz Weber, owns a hotel near one of the bases in Meiringen and collected enough signatures to force the issue to a popular vote.

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