Defence Minister Ueli Maurer on Saturday praised General Henri Guisan, Switzerland’s most revered military leader of the past century.
Speaking to around 1,000 members of the group Campaign for an Independent and Neutral Switzerland, Maurer said Guisan, who died 50 years ago, gave the country the “courage to go its own way”.
When Guisan was promoted to General, a rank bestowed only during wartime in Switzerland, he took over an army that had been neglected, Maurer said.
“When the army mobilised in 1939, the General led an army that was largely denied modern equipment by pacifist politicians.”
Pirmin Schwander, head of the Campaign, criticised the Swiss political climate. He said the federal government had failed in its foreign and economic policy, which he said “privatised profits and nationalised losses”.
Schwander’s group shares close links with Maurer’s rightwing Swiss People’s Party. It opposes Swiss involvement in United Nations peacekeeping missions, bilateral treaties with the European Union and was against the country joining the European Economic Area.
swissinfo.ch and agencies