Switzerland should soften arms export rules, says ministry report

Since the start of the war in Ukraine, its President Volodymr Zelenskyy has made multiple appeals for arms to help fight the Russian aggression. Copyright 2022 The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.

A draft foreign ministry report says Switzerland should relax the rules for deliveries of Swiss-made arms to war zones.

This content was published on July 17, 2022 - 18:01

According to this report on Swiss neutrality, of which the publication SonntagsZeitung says it obtained a copy, Switzerland should lift its prohibition on partner states handing over Swiss-made arms to democratic states that have been attacked. 

This is a clear reference to Ukraine, where some European and Western states have been supplying arms to help Kyiv fight back against Russian aggression, but Switzerland’s arms export rules do not allow it to do so. Maintaining the status quo means Switzerland’s security would no longer be guaranteed and would be incomprehensible to its partners, says the report as cited by SonntagsZeitung.

The report also looks at the issue of ties with the NATO military alliance. If full membership is not possible, the report’s authors wish to examine forms of closer cooperation with NATO.

This is the first report to give substance to the notion of "collaborative neutrality" recently mooted by Swiss President and Foreign Minister Ignazio Cassis, says newspaper. His ministry has been preparing the report at his request since the beginning of the war in Ukraine. The war has provoked a political debate on Switzerland’s neutrality, especially after Bern adopted European Union sanctions against Russia.

The report is currently under consultation with federal government offices and should be adopted by the cabinet before the end of the summer, a foreign ministry spokesperson told news agency Keystone-SDA on Sunday.

Correction: A previous version of this article erroneously stated that Switzerland should be able to supply arms to democratic states that have been attacked.

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