Calmy-Rey slams parliament army decision

Swiss President Micheline Calmy-Rey has criticised parliament over its decision to go against the government over the army budget and the purchase of fighter jets.

This content was published on October 5, 2011 - 12:13 and agencies

In comments made to two newspapers on Wednesday, Calmy-Rey, who serves as foreign minister, said that other areas such as education and agriculture would suffer, with savings which would be “painful”.

Parliament on September 28  approved an annual budget of SFr5 billion ($5.6 billion) for Switzerland’s armed forces, including the purchase of fighter jets. The current 200,000 troops would be slimmed to a minimum of 100,000, it agreed.

The government, which had proposed 80,000 troops and an annual budget of SFr4.4 billion, wanted to delay buying the aircraft.

Like her finance minister colleague Eveline Widmer-Schlumpf, Calmy-Rey – who retires at the end of the year and holds the annual rotating presidency – believes that legal changes would be needed to include the purchase of the jets in the army budget.

Calmy-Rey added that cabinet had decided on different priorities “after a lot of reflection”. She said that she was also annoyed that the population would not get the chance to vote on the fighter jets purchase.

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