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Government launches campaign against army cuts

Adolf Ogi discusses the campaign against army cuts with Franz Steinegger, head of the Radical Party

(Keystone)

The Swiss defence minister, Adolf Ogi, has launched the government's campaign against a move to make deep cuts in the army, ahead of a vote on the issue next month.

Ogi said on Wednesday there had already been sufficient cuts in the army, and any further reductions would endanger Swiss security.

The initiative, which will come to a popular vote, seeks to reduce the government's defence spending to half of its 1987 level.

The initiative, promoted by left-wing and development aid groups, wants the funds to be used instead for international peace work, the conversion of military to civilian jobs, and social security.

Ogi said that at first glance such a policy might seem appealing to the public. But he said it would under-estimate medium and long-term dangers, the possibility of armed conflicts, and it would also place thousands of jobs in jeopardy.

He added that much had already been done to cut back the army. Over the past decade, he said, SFr9 billion had been saved - more than in any other government sector.

swissinfo with agencies


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