Switzerland Throws Two Centuries of Neutrality Overboard

On Feb. 28, the Swiss government (Federal Council) adopted all the sanctions the European Union has imposed on Russia, thus overturning the Federation’s long tradition of neutrality. The decision was a reversal of the government’s previous announcement that it would not support EU sanctions, but would nonetheless work to prevent Switzerland from being used to circumvent them, and it came after severe pressure from Brussels.

Following the announcement, former Federal Council member Christoph Blocher of the SPP regretted that Switzerland would hardly be able to play a credible role as a neutral mediator with respect to Russia. In his view, economic sanctions are “an act of war”, and will not prevent the ongoing aggression. In an interview with the Neue Zürcher Zeitung, Blocher condemned Russia’s “war of aggression” in Ukraine, but added: “The USA and the EU are participating in this war with economic sanctions. With a bread freeze – as they called it in the Middle Ages. One tries to starve a people in order to force the leadership to give up the war. Whoever participates here is a war party.”

“As a neutral state, Switzerland must not allow itself to be carried away into taking sides… By participating in the sanctions, Switzerland is now at war. Yet everything should be done now to end this terrible war as quickly as possible. As a neutral country, Switzerland could have made a special contribution. It has now let this opportunity go by…. The worse things get in the world, the more important neutrality is. Non-interference is not just self-protection, it is what makes Good Offices possible.”

Moreover, the decision may violate the Federal Constitution, which mandates Parliament, under Art. 173, to take “measures to safeguard external security and the independence and neutrality of Switzerland”, and which stipulates, under Art. 183, that the “Federal Council takes measures to safeguard external security, independence and neutrality of Switzerland”. A popular referendum to reverse the government decision is almost sure at this point.

It should be noted that the EU sanctions were supported by the same lobby that had pushed Parliament to adopted the CO2 law, which was later defeated in a national referendum made possible by a petition organized by the SPP (cf. SAS 25, 27/21).

One key factor in the decision to join the Western financial warfare against Russia might have been the scandal fueled by the Financial Times against Credit Suisse, the second largest Swiss bank and one among the 30 “systemically relevant” global banks. The City of London news outlet had leaked an internal document from Credit Suisse, advising its investors to destroy all documents pertaining to certain investments involving Russian oligarchs’ assets.

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