Ogi defends arms for Swiss peacekeepers
The president, Adolf Ogi, has been defending the controversial idea of arming Swiss peace-keepers abroad. He told army officers at a meeting in Sarnen, in canton Obwalden, that such a step would not compromise Swiss neutrality.
The president, Adolf Ogi, has been defending the controversial idea of arming Swiss peace-keepers abroad. He told army officers at a meeting in Sarnen, in canton Obwalden, that such a step would not compromise Swiss neutrality, nor did it have anything to do with a possible entry into Nato.
Ogi, who is also defence minister, has been a long-standing advocate of arms for Swiss peacekeepers. He told assembled officers that weapons would only be used for self-defence and not as part of an offensive. He also pointed out that the peacekeepers themselves were volunteers, and were under the authority of parliament.
He assured army representatives that the length of deployment of any units would not exceed current limits. Any deployment that is longer than three weeks, or consists of more than a hundred soliders, needs parliamentary approval.
The question of armament for foreign missions is among a package of proposals which the House of Representatives began discussing last Thursday. Opponents of the measure are threatening to call a referendum over the issue if parliament comes out in favour.
In addition to outlining his vison for the army, Ogi proposed the setting up of a foundation for children affected by conflicts around the world. He said he would like to invite all child victims of war to Switzerland to take part in peace-camps, where they would receive counselling and also take part in fun activities. He said it was his personal goal to get the project up and running by next year.
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