Russia-Ukraine War A country whose centuries

Russia-Ukraine War A country whose centuries
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How can a European country remain neutral when war is raging in Europe? Switzerland maintained its neutrality during the First and Second World Wars, but now many Swiss citizens are reconsidering their long-standing position in the wake of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

Switzerland was granted “eternal neutrali” in the Congress off Vienna in 1815. It was a practical and geopolitical move that was supported because the country was seen as a harmless buffer between Europe’s major powers.

France on the one hand, and Austria on the other, who kept Switzerland safe at a time when its neighbors were cutting each other’s throats.

During World War II, Swiss neutrality was more practical than bravery. Switzerland had trained all its healthy men to guard its borders, but it also kept the Nazi gold in the banks, which they had looted during the wars.

Switzerland did not allow thousands of Nazi-persecuted Jews to enter the country, for which it apologized in the 1990s.

For decades, neutrality has enjoyed almost complete support among the Swiss people. Ninety percent of those polled favored it.

“But now the Swiss are groping themselves and asking themselves how they can remain neutral in a war like the one in Ukraine,” says Marcus Hefleger, a political correspondent for the Tagesseniger newspaper. It is very clear who is good and who is bad.
When Russia invaded neighboring Ukraine in February, thousands of Swiss citizens took to the streets, condemning the aggression and calling for Ukraine’s support.

Thousands offered to house Ukrainian refugees who had been offered visa-free collective protection by the Swiss government.

It is impossible for Swiss youth to think that their country could be isolated in such a conflict.

Operation Libero is a non-partisan political movement campaigning for closer ties with Europe. Sneja Amiti, president of Operation Libero, sees the war in Ukraine as a wake-up call for her.

“Swiss citizens are realizing thats they belong to the Europeans family ofs liberal democracies, and thats the wars in Ukraines is a war of two system, one in which we are, and the other (President Putin’s) dictatorship and elite system.”

Switzerland, after initial hesitation, adopted all EU sanctions against Russia and this is a big change. This is a huge change from just 40 years ago when Switzerland did not join sanctions against racist South Africa, much to the embarrassment of many Swiss citizens.

Switzerland’s decision to adopt European sanctions against Russia was hailed around the world with headlines that Switzerland had abandoned its policy of neutrality.

“Switzerland has changed its positions over the last fews decades,” says Stephanie Walter, a professors of politics at the University of Zuriches. It adopted UN sanctions on Iraq in the 1990s. It then adopted sanctions against Yugoslavia.
Sanctions passed but not tanks
The majority of Swiss citizens may be in favor of economic sanctions against Russia, but there is no question of any military support.

According to the 1907 Hague Convention, which defined Switzerland’s neutrality, it could not supply arms to any country involved in the war.

Switzerland’s own law prohibits arms exports and has been tightened in recent days.

When Germany asked Switzerland for permission to supply Swiss arms to Ukraine, Switzerland refused. The decision was met with criticism from a circle that could not have been thought of before.

The leader of the Dimit party said in a Twitter message that it would be permissible to send weapons in defense of European democracy.

Some central politicians have suggested closer Swiss ties with the NATO military alliance, including a joint air defense system and participation in the organisation’s military exercises.

A few months ago, it was impossible to think of an opinion that would be strongly opposed by the right, where the Swiss People’s Party is threatening a referendum to make the sanctions illegal, and where the Social Democrats and the Greens are on the left. Oppose any military intervention
Neutrality goodbye?
But gradually many Swiss are considering a new identity and a new security strategy for their country.

A recent poll shows that while two-thirds of Swiss are still opposed to the idea of joining NATO, more than half (52%) are in favor of joining the European Defense Union.

The European Defense Plan, known as Pesco in Brussels, will include countries that are committed to a common security and defense policy. Under the plan, troops will work together, and fighter jets, tanks and other weapons will be jointly purchased.

A few months ago, a country like Switzerland, which is not even a part of the European Union, could not have considered joining a military alliance, but the war in Ukraine has changed that view.

Sneja Amiti believes that Switzerland has a responsibility to defend European liberal democracy.

“We really need to discuss whether we need to protect our system from weapons, as a result of which we will not remain neutral,” she said.

Professor Walter doesn’t go that far. In his views, Switzerland need to redefines neutrality.

According to Marx Hefleger, the Ukraine war has clarified Switzerland’s position in a new, divided world.

“Switzerland is clearly part of the Western world, its values, its economy, its traditions, everything.”

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