The Swiss press has welcomed the positive outcome of Sunday's vote on army reforms. The papers said the "yes" votes for greater military cooperation abroad were a victory for good sense and a sign that Switzerland was ready to open up to the world.This content was published on June 11, 2001 - 09:59
But the papers were mindful of the slight margin of the government's victory - 51 per cent in favour; 49 per cent against - and cautioned against triumphalism. "Setting Switzerland on a course of opening up gradually to the world will entail much hard work in the future," the Zurich-based "Tages Anzeiger" said.
For the French-language newspapers, "Le Matin" and "Le Temps", the approval of army reforms - allowing the arming of peacekeepers abroad and permitting joint military exercises with other countries - was a personal victory for the new defence minister, Samuel Schmid.
But other papers chose to interpret the result as a defeat for the rightwing parliamentarian, Christoph Blocher, who spent millions of francs on a campaign to keep Switzerland's concept of neutrality intact.
In a commentary entitled "Blocher's Defeat", the Tages Anzeiger said outward-looking Swiss men and women would be breathing a sigh of relief.
"At last the mighty Christoph Blocher has been defeated in a vote on the so-called 'opening-up' of Switzerland," the paper commented. "At last the country's concept of neutrality, which has appeared set in stone since the Second World War is showing signs of movement."
The Bern-based "Bund" agreed. The vote was a "sign of changing attitudes, of generational changes, marking the end of our traditional concept of neutrality", the paper said.
The French-language "Tribune de Genève" commented that "neutrality as such is no longer a taboo subject" in Switzerland. In the paper's opinion, Sunday's "historic decision" paved the way for Switzerland to join the UN when a referendum is held on the issue next year.
But the Bund cautioned against getting carried away. "The result of the vote is no more than a hint at opening up," it said. "The much more important vote next year on UN membership has still to be won."
swissinfo with agencies
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