Swiss Parliament Rejects Bill to Legalize Transfer of Weapons to Ukraine

The lower chamber of the Swiss parliament has voted against a bill aimed at legalizing the transfer of Swiss-made weapons to Ukraine.

The vote in the Swiss Parliament came on the day that Swiss President Alain Berset met his Ukrainian counterpart Volodymyr Zelensky during a summit of the European Political Group in Moldova, in a meeting during which the two men discussed the export of military equipment.

And 98 members of the National Council in Bern voted against the parliamentary initiative prepared by a committee, while 75 members voted in favor of it.

Jean-Luc Ador, a deputy for the right-wing populist Swiss People’s Party, the largest bloc in the National Council, said approving this initiative would mean a “breach of neutrality”.

Switzerland has adopted the principle of neutrality in military conflicts for a long time, given that the country has a population of 8.8 million and has no sea outlet. It still adopts compulsory military service for men.

There has been a heated debate in Switzerland about the principle of neutrality since the start of the Ukraine war in February 2022.

The wealthy country, which is not a member of the European Union, followed the example of the bloc in imposing sanctions on Moscow, but it has not yet shown any flexibility in terms of military neutrality.

Despite pressure from Cave and its allies, Switzerland has not yet allowed countries that possess Swiss-made weapons to supply them to Ukraine.

So far, it has rejected explicit requests by Germany, Spain and Denmark, citing the “war materiel law” that prohibits re-export if the recipient country is involved in an armed conflict.

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During the summit in Moldova, Kyiv and Chişinău urged European leaders to provide more support in the face of Russia’s military operations.

Berset announced in a tweet that he “had a meeting with Zelensky on the field situation, Swiss humanitarian aid and reconstruction.”

Swiss state television reported that the meeting lasted 25 minutes.

Brisset said in a statement to Swiss television that he discussed with the Ukrainian President the freezing of assets, the role of Switzerland in terms of demining, and the country’s position on the re-export of weapons.

“I think the Ukrainians understand Switzerland’s position very well,” Bersih said, expressing his willingness to visit Ukraine at any time.

“We are applying our laws. We have shown from the beginning that we are not indifferent to what is happening and we stand firmly with Ukraine,” the Swiss president added.

“The most important thing today is for us to be united, and not to tolerate what is happening in eastern Ukraine,” Bersih said.

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2023-06-02 00:33:05

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