The current world situation dramatically demonstrates the need for a country like Switzerland to mediate between war and conflict parties and to provide a platform for negotiations. Nevertheless, certain domestic circles and also foreign diplomats are trying to put pressure on Switzerland to fully participate in sanctions against Russia and to allow arms deliveries, if not directly then at least indirectly. The narrative of these neutrality diluters is always the same: Switzerland’s neutrality is an outdated model and must be reconsidered or adapted or even ditched. In light of the emerging amalgamation of security policy and foreign policy of the EU and the European arm of NATO, the calls for a „relativization of neutrality“ in favor of a misconceived solidarity are getting louder and louder. These gravediggers of neutrality must be countered with the following:
- The perpetual, integral and armed neutrality is absolute and geared towards emergencies. It cannot be modified easily and at will on the basis of a current event. Thus, there is no such thing as „Putin neutrality“ or the like. The perpetual, integral and armed neutrality guaranteed to us at the Congress of Vienna, also with Russia’s explicit approval, sends an unmistakable signal to other countries and our partners that we will reliably and fully adhere to our neutrality in the long – term and will – if necessary – defend it with our armed forces.
- The concept of neutrality is fundamentally directed towards wars. In a war, there are always attackers and defenders. It is therefore intellectually dishonest to relativize neutrality in relation to the Russia-Ukraine conflict or even to ditch it in order to position ourselves unilaterally against an aggressor. For a neutral state, the „good-evil“ scheme is suspended, which enables it to offer its good offices. The fact that Putin claims Art. 51 of the UN Charter for himself in order to rush to help an ally is possibly covered by international law but certainly problematic, but nevertheless not unusual: China and the USA have also frequently drawn on this problematic article, the latter without there ever having been an outcry. In this context, especially in a neutral state like Switzerland, there should be careful consideration in order to avoid double standards.
- Our elites know well that neutrality is deeply rooted in the Swiss people. Therefore, they believe they have to operate in a hypocritical manner, propagating neutrality internally while acting in a partisan manner externally. For example, the Federal Council has recklessly offered hand to sanctions against Russia, such as the blocking of Russian bank accounts in Switzerland. This has done massive damage to both, our credibility and our business location: a large number of foreigners have withdrawn their capital from Switzerland and transferred it to other countries. It is certainly legitimate to discuss the value of neutrality. However, this should be done with the involvement of the sovereign, the Swiss people, namely at the ballot box.
- Our armed neutrality has effectively protected us from external aggressors, especially during World War II. It is not an outdated model, as some try to make us believe, but on the contrary an inspiring model for the future: based on credibility, continuity, predictability and reliability, we secure our prosperity and security, especially for our young generation. The Swiss People does not expect the Federal Council and our politicians to engage in power politics, but rather to protect our people and safeguard our prosperity. This is the very duty of the Federal Council: to integrate our neutrality policy into our foreign policy and to explain our neutrality in a comprehensible way in the foreign policy arena. In the area of good offices, in receiving a large number of refugees – as is currently the case from Ukraine – as well as comprehensive offers for negotiations, Switzerland is and will be able to make major contributions to global peacebuilding and peacekeeping. We must not easily give up this trump card!