Couchepin backs defence minister

Swiss President Pascal Couchepin has expressed support for Samuel Schmid and said the defence minister would not have to explain himself before his cabinet colleagues.

This content was published on August 17, 2008 minutes

The weakened Schmid should be supported by his fellow ministers, Couchepin said in an interview with the SonntagsZeitung newspaper, published on Sunday.

Schmid has been under pressure since the July resignation of the commander of Switzerland's armed forces, Roland Nef, over questions surrounding his judgment and integrity.

Couchepin also said he supported Schmid's plan to reform the Swiss military. "We do not want to change the thrust of the security policy," he said.

Couchepin criticised calls for the removal of Schmid, led by the rightwing Swiss People's Party, to which Schmid until recently belonged. He is now a member of the newly-formed Conservative Democratic Party.

"With this policy, the People's Party sacrifices the interests of the country for its own advantage," he told the newspaper.

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