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Army set to keep the peace in Davos

Swiss troops have been deployed at the WEF meeting in Davos since 1999 Keystone Archive

Thousands of Swiss soldiers are set to help maintain security during the upcoming World Economic Forum (WEF) summit in the mountain resort of Davos.

This content was published on December 2, 2004 - 17:23

But opponents of the move, which still has to be approved by one of Switzerland’s two parliamentary chambers, are urging recruits to stay away from the event.

The WEF summit has been held every January for more than 30 years. It brings together some of the biggest names in global politics and business.

But the event regularly attracts hundreds of anti-globalisation protesters, and it is up to the Swiss authorities to maintain security in the Alpine town for the duration of the summit.

On Thursday the House of Representatives voted by 109 to 45 in favour of authorising the deployment of up to 6,500 Swiss soldiers at the summit in 2005 and 2006.

If the Senate accepts the proposal next week, troops will be deployed in and around Davos from the middle of January until the end of the month. The five-day event is scheduled to get underway on January 26.

“Important” event

Speaking in favour of the military deployment, Swiss Defence Minister Samuel Schmid said the WEF summit was an important political and economic event.

He assured parliamentarians that only a small number of soldiers would be stationed “on the front line”, adding that around half of the contingent would be involved in surveillance of the airspace over Davos.

But Schmid’s words of reassurance inside the parliamentary chamber were not enough to persuade members of the pacifist group, Switzerland Without an Army, to abandon protests.

In a statement issued following the debate in parliament, the group said it was calling on soldiers to refuse to take part in any military activities in Davos.

It also attacked the vote as an attempt to stop demonstrations outside the summit venue.

“This military deployment is clearly targeting all those… who want to protest against the decisions of the world’s most powerful people assembled in Davos,” said the group.

Swiss soldiers have been deployed in and around Davos during the WEF summit since 1999.

swissinfo with agencies

Key facts

The WEF summit has taken place in Davos since 1971, except in 2002 when New York hosted the annual event.
Swiss troops have been deployed in and around Davos to bolster security since 1999.
The 2005 WEF summit takes place from January 26 to 30.

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