Military can down unauthorised planes during WEF

The no-fly zone even applies to paragliders Keystone

The defence minister, Samuel Schmid, has been given the power to order the shooting down of unauthorised aircraft over Davos during the World Economic Forum summit.

This content was published on January 15, 2003 - 17:45

The government on Wednesday ratified a security measure aimed at ensuring complete control of air space above the Alpine resort during the meeting.

The cabinet agreed that Schmid should take the decision on whether to attack in the event of unauthorised aircraft penetrating a no-fly zone.

Defence officials had announced ten days ago that Switzerland would shoot down any hostile aircraft flying over Davos during the economic summit, which runs from January 23 to 28.

The government said that while the summit was underway the air force - and not the civilian aviation authorities - would be responsible for security in Switzerland's airspace.

Two fighter jets would be constantly deployed in the region during daytime hours, while two aircraft would be on standby during the night.

Should unauthorised aircraft enter the no-fly zone and ignore warnings to turn back, either Schmid or the air force commander-in-chief, Hans-Ulrich Fehrlin, could issue the order to fire.

"Last resort"

Senior defence ministry official Peter Egger said force would only be used as "a last resort". International standards would be applied to intercept and warn unauthorised aircraft entering the no-fly zone.

The economics minister, Joseph Deiss, stressed that Switzerland had received no specific threats, and the security measure was purely a precaution.

Security problems were more likely to arise on the ground with anti-globalisation demonstrations expected to take place in Davos.

Local Swiss police have been gearing up for the event for months and a few days ago made arrangements with the German state of Baden-Württemberg to borrow six water cannon.

Germany is also providing 50 police officers under a Swiss/German cooperation agreement signed last year.

More than 1,000 business and political leaders are expected at the high-profile meeting, which is returning to Davos after a one-year break.

Deiss said he was delighted that Switzerland was hosting the WEF again and would have the chance to welcome decision makers from around the world.

swissinfo with agencies

WEF summary

The government has given defence minister Samuel Schmid the green light to down unauthorised aircraft over Davos during the World Economic Forum.

Schmid was authorised to use the measure as a last resort in the event of aircraft entering a no-fly zone and ignoring warnings to leave.

The government said no specific warnings had been received and the measure was purely a precaution.

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