Swiss government proposes steps away from neutrality

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Why Russia is threatening to sue a Swiss newspaper, when Covid will peak across the country, and more in our roundup of Swiss news from July 16 – 19.


The draft of the collaborative neutrality proposition allegedly came from President Ignazio Cassis’ office.


Should Switzerland try ‘collaborative neutrality?’


A local newspaper this week published a draft copy of a ministry report proposing the country relax some of its rules around exporting weapons to other countries who intend to send them onto countries engaged in war. The issue has made headlines twice this year as Switzerland refused to send ammunition and tanks to Germany and Poland because the countries intended to send them onto Ukraine. Such an act is currently prohibited under Switzerland’s neutrality laws, particularly its War Materials Act. Proponents of the step away from neutrality say the changes should be adopted before the end of summer. Critics of the move say Switzerland’s security would no longer be guaranteed under this form “collaborative neutrality.” Read more.



Amid war, Switzerland is pushed to define neutrality



Russia says it will sue Swiss newspaper


The Russian embassy in Bern this week sent a letter to a local German newspaper NZZ threatening the editor-in-chief that it “reserves the right” to sue for defamation of President Vladmir Putin. The threat is in response to the newspaper publishing a political cartoon of Putin dressed as a red-nosed clown. The letter from the Russian embassy stated “If we talk about clowning, it would be much more appropriate” to feature “the former Ukrainian comedian Volodymyr Zelensky.” Read more.



Why treating wounded Ukrainians violates Switzerland’s neutrality


Despite Swiss cantons expressing their willingness to treat Ukrainians wounded in the war, federal authorities say it would violate the international laws surrounding Switzerland’s neutrality. The original request to treat wounded Ukrainians was made by the Euro-Atlantic Disaster Response Coordination Center, a department of NATO that coordinates medical evacuations. Both the Geneva Convention and the Hague Agreement of 1907 stipulate that neutral countries cannot rehabilitate soldiers. While some Swiss objected citing that they could at least treat wounded civilians, government officials say that they have no way of clearly discerning civilians from soldiers. Read more.



Covid to peak in August in Switzerland


Switzerland’s number of Covid cases will peak in “two to four weeks” according to Huldrych Günthard, University Hospital Zurich’ professor of infectious diseases. In the span of last week nearly 56,000 new cases were reported. Luckily, the current Omicron sub-variants in rotation do not lead to serious complications in the majority of cases. Read more.


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