The Swiss government has called for Turkey to implement an immediate ceasefire in Syria. It is also taking steps to facilitate humanitarian aid to Syrian victims of the conflict.
Reiterating its view that Turkey’s military intervention in Syria is against international law, the government said on Wednesdayexternal link that Turkey should “immediately cease all hostilities and work through negotiation towards immediate de-escalation and a political solution to the conflict”.
It said only a political solution as part of the United Nations-led peace process in Geneva could hope to address the causes of the conflict. “Switzerland therefore actively supports the efforts of the UN Special Envoy for Syria to convene a Syrian constitutional committee in Geneva,” says the government statement.
The Swiss government also said it was “very concerned” about the humanitarian situation in Syria, especially that of displaced civilians. The situation is “precarious and has deteriorated considerably as a result of the renewed military action”, with more than 210,000 people now having fled north-eastern Syria.
In response, the government says it plans some exemptions to its sanctions against Syria to facilitate humanitarian aid.
This means an exemption regime allowing Swiss-funded aid groups and Swiss diplomatic representations “to make available financial resources to persons, companies and entities subject to the sanctions, provided that these transactions are necessary to provide humanitarian aid or to support the civilian population”.
Since 2011, “Switzerland has provided over CHF430 million ($430 million) to the suffering populations in Syria and its neighbouring countries, in its biggest humanitarian undertaking to date,” according to the statement.
Switzerland was quick to join other Western countries in condemning the Turkish military offensive against the Kurdish zone of northern Syria, which began last week.
Turkey sees the Kurdish militia there as terrorists and wants to create a “safe zone” which could be home to nearly four million Syrian refugees currently in Turkey.