The Swiss ambassador in Paris has protested against remarks made by French MEP Nathalie Loiseau imploring the European Union not to be "a big, soft Switzerland" in its handling of tensions in Ukraine.
On Saturday, ambassador Roberto Balzaretti deemed the jibe "unacceptable". He told the AFP news agency that he agreed with Loiseau’s sentiments on the Ukraine issue and said Switzerland is helping Ukraine by bringing the Russians to the negotiating table.
"But the tone of her comments is derogatory to say the least. This phrase is very embarrassing. It called for a reaction," he added.
On her return from Kiev, Loiseau, who belongs to President Emmanuel Macron’s La République En Marche party gave an interview to the French weekly magazine Le Point.
"Before Moscow, Europe must not be a big, soft Switzerland," she said, before tweeting the link to the article.
Balzaretti, the former Swiss Secretary of State for European Affairs, told AFP that he did not want to inflate the controversy and said he was ready to discuss how to manage the crisis between the West and Russia with Loiseau.
"Basically, there is no difference between French policy and Swiss policy on this subject. The means of each are different".
The West has accused Moscow of having massed tens of thousands of soldiers on Ukraine's borders in preparation for a potential invasion, which Russia denies, saying it only wants to guarantee its security.
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