Defence Minister Ueli Maurer has called for a strong army to defend Switzerland’s independence and freedom. He appealed to parliament to grant enough funds to maintain a credible force.
In a speech to commemorate a historic address on the Rütli meadow by Switzerland’s army commander 75 years ago, Maurer praised General Henri Guisan as a key figure to prepare the militia army and the population for his defence strategy during the Second World War.
In a similar vein, the head of the association of Swiss army officers, Denis Froidevaux, criticised opponents trying to reduce the army budget and troop numbers.
Saturday’s memorial event in central Switzerland was attended by more than 400 politicians, representatives of the armed forces and members of the Guisan family.
Parliament and government are at loggerheads over the reform of the armed forces and their funding. Conservatives want an annual budget of at least CHF5 billion ($5.2 billion) and at least 100,000 troops.
In 1940, the head of the Swiss armed forces, General Guisan, assembled senior officers at the Rütli meadow on Lake Lucerne to explain the defence strategy and resistance against a possible invasion by Nazi Germany and its allies.
swissinfo.ch and agencies