Navigation

Germany and Switzerland compare notes on army reform

Swiss defence minister and president, Adolf Ogi (left) discusses army reform with his German counterpart, Rudolf Scharping, who visited Berne on Monday Keystone

The German defence minister, Rudolf Scharping, has met the Swiss president and defence minister, Adolf Ogi, in the capital, Berne. The two are both in the midst of extensive reforms and cutbacks in their armed forces.

This content was published on June 26, 2000 - 09:28

The Swiss government has proposed slashing the army from its current strength of 360,000 troops to 120,000, not including up to 80,000 reservists. Germany is expected to have a total of half a million under colours, including reservists.

Both ministers reiterated their determination to retain conscription as a means of recruitment. Scharping said he was confident the German parliament would grant its approval, and also said he thought the German public supported the idea.

But the cuts to the Swiss forces may not be enough. The government is likely to be faced with a referendum on abolishing the army in two years' time.

Both countries' defence spending will be roughly comparable. Ogi estimates the new Army will cost SFr4.3 billion per year; the new German army will cost the equivalent of just over SFr35 billion.

Both ministers said they had learned from each other. Scharping said Switzerland had more experience in conversion work, using the military to perform tasks in civil society.

Scharping refused to comment on the domestic dispute in Switzerland on changing the military law to permit Swiss peacekeepers to be armed. German and a small contingent of Swiss troops serve side by side in southern Kosovo, but the Swiss are only allowed to carry sidearms for self-defence.

Both ministers discussed the long-term prospects of peacekeeping units in Kosovo. The Kfor troops are expected to remain in the Serbian province for several years. European powers like Germany hope the deployment of Nato and non-Nato units will increase cooperation between member and non-member countries.

by Peter Haller

This article was automatically imported from our old content management system. If you see any display errors, please let us know: community-feedback@swissinfo.ch

Comments under this article have been turned off. You can find an overview of ongoing debates with our journalists here. Please join us!

If you want to start a conversation about a topic raised in this article or want to report factual errors, email us at english@swissinfo.ch.

Share this story

Join the conversation!

With a SWI account, you have the opportunity to contribute on our website.

You can Login or register here.