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Swiss seek closer defence ties to EU, NATO; to stay neutral

Swiss seek closer defence ties to EU, NATO; to stay neutral

NATO logos are seen at the Alliance headquarters ahead of a NATO Defence Ministers meeting, in Brussels, Belgium, on Oct 21, 2021. (Photo: REUTERS/Pascal Rossignol)

ZURICH: Switzerland will seek closer defence and security ties to the European Union and NATO while preserving its traditional neutrality in the wake of Russia's invasion of Ukraine, the government said on Wednesday (Sep 7).

A policy paper approved by the Cabinet also calls for building up Switzerland's own military powers.

The Ukraine war showed the increasing threat of hybrid conflict, disinformation campaigns, cyberattacks, covert operations and even armed conflict, it said in a statement.

"The report concludes that it is in Switzerland's interest to orient its security and defence policy more consistently than before towards international cooperation," it said, citing chances to expand policy cooperation in Europe, specifically with NATO and the EU.

"These are to be used to strengthen the country's own defence capability, while respecting neutrality".

This could include participating more in joint exercises, expanding military cooperation, intensifying the existing Partnership for Peace ties with NATO or joining up with EU rapid-deployment teams for rescue and evacuation operations.

Moving much closer to the military alliance would mark a departure from the carefully nurtured tradition of not taking sides that its supporters say helped Switzerland prosper peacefully and maintain a special role as intermediary, including during the West's standoff with the Soviet Union.

Sweden and Finland - countries that also have a history of neutrality - are joining NATO but Switzerland was still far away from taking that step.

Source: Reuters/ec
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