Switzerland: Greens against arms deliveries – policy

Switzerland: Greens against arms deliveries – policy

Big cat puns have recently been popular with the German Greens. “The #Leopard‘s freed!” tweeted Katrin Göring-Eckardt, green Vice President of the German Bundestag, on January 24th. The federal government had just announced that they leopard– will deliver tanks to Ukraine – and the Greens cheered. The once peace-moving party is now almost the loudest for arms deliveries to Kiev.

Sure, the German Greens are co-governing in a NATO state that, in view of the Russian war of aggression, is in the Ukraine must be clearly positioned. Nevertheless, it is remarkable how different the sister party in neighboring Switzerland behaves in comparison. The Swiss Greens, founded in 1983, have a slightly different history than the German Greens, but they also count peace and disarmament among their principles. “As a neutral country and depositary of the Geneva Conventions, Switzerland should mediate and mediate in conflicts – instead of feeding wars with arms exports,” writes the party on your website. One year after the start of the war, she remains true to this credo – despite the heated debates about neutrality and the release of Swiss-made armaments.

Over the past year, Bern has repeatedly refused to allow European states to transfer armaments from Switzerland to Ukraine – citing neutrality law and the recently tightened War Material Act. Since then, the country has been under massive pressure. It’s not just the European neighbors who don’t understand the Swiss no, the Ukraine is also irritated. “Please let other countries send their Swiss-made weapons to Ukraine,” said Ukraine’s new ambassador to Bern, Iryna Venediktova. recently in an interview. “In the face of Russia’s attack on Ukraine, Switzerland cannot be neutral.”

Politicians are struggling fiercely to change the law

It is also known in Bern that the Swiss position needs to be explained, if not reformed. And so politicians are currently struggling to change the law. Striking: The Swiss Greens are not among the progressives. They are blocking the possible easing of the War Material Act, as suggested by the Social Democrats, the liberal FDP or the Center Party, in order to allow Swiss arms to be transferred to Ukraine after all. This finds itself in an unusual alliance: in addition to the Greens, only the right-wing conservative Swiss People’s Party (SVP) completed a relaxation of the War Material Act. For the SVP it was already going too far that Switzerland adopted the EU’s Russia sanctions. The fact that Bern could now allow tanks and ammunition to be passed on to Kiev is out of the question for the party. She is fighting for a particularly strict interpretation of neutrality to be enshrined in the constitution.

The motives of the Greens are different. In her view, as a militarily neutral country, Switzerland can do things that others cannot, such as taking on a protecting power mandate, i.e. a kind of postman role between Moscow and Kiev. “We are of more use to Ukraine if we use the strengths of the neutral,” said parliamentary group leader Aline Trede in an interview. The weapons shipmentswhich are at stake in connection with Switzerland, would make “no difference” for Ukraine.

“Today, the only thing discussed is the transfer of weapons and ammunition,” also criticizes the Green Party President Balthasar Glättli. With its financial and commodity trading center, Switzerland has two important levers against Russia, which it is currently not using sufficiently. That’s why his party has been campaigning for a commodity market supervision for some time, which should monitor the economic sector, which is closely interwoven with Russia. In view of the record profits in the industry, she is also calling for a war profits tax. And she wants Switzerland to actively look for oligarch money and set up a task force for this purpose. According to the Greens, Berne should also become more involved in humanitarian aid for Ukraine, thereby compensating for the lack of military support. In fact, measured by its economic power, Switzerland only ranked 33 out of 40 states in the “Ukraine Support Tracker” ranking of the Kiel Institute for the World Economy.

On March 8, the Swiss National Council will decide on the proposed relaxation of the War Material Act. There is little to suggest that the Greens could switch camps. On Friday though became knownthat Germany has again sent a request to Bern: This time it is about almost 100 decommissioned Leopard tanks. Berlin is asking Bern to sell the vehicles back to the German manufacturer in order to close the gaps in EU and NATO countries. This is legally possible, but it requires a parliamentary decision. The next pacifism test is coming to the Swiss Greens.

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