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26 Oct, 2022 17:30

‘Neutral’ Switzerland defends its sanctions against Russia

A Federal Council report states that the restrictions are in line with the long-standing national policy 
‘Neutral’ Switzerland defends its sanctions against Russia

Switzerland remains as neutral as it was back in 1993, when the country redefined the policy in its ‘White Paper’, a new report by the Federal Council stated on Wednesday.

Despite the latest global political tribulations, Bern’s interpretation of the term has not changed, the document, ordered by the Swiss parliament’s foreign policy commission, concludes.  

In May, Swiss President Ignazio Cassis, who is also the foreign minister, spoke of “cooperative neutrality” during the World Economic Forum in Davos. This led some to question whether Bern was about to redefine its neutrality. 

After months of work, Switzerland’s highest executive body has now made it clear, however, that no changes have in fact been made to the nation’s core policy. 

“The Federal Council thus comes to the conclusion that it will adhere to the practice of neutrality laid down in 1993 and pursued ever since,” the document reads. 

According to the report, neutrality, as it is currently understood in Switzerland, still provides a “big enough wiggle room for action,” and serves its purpose in Bern’s security and foreign policy.  

The Federal Council also defended its decision to impose sanctions on Russia following the start of the military operation in Ukraine. 

“Neutrality doesn’t mean indifference in the face of fundamental international law violations,” the officials argued, adding that taking part in the EU’s sanctions on Moscow in late February was in line with the policy. 

Bern’s decision at the time led to debate at home over the meaning of Swiss ‘neutrality’.