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Defence Minister: Swiss must be ready for global threats


Viola Amherd as seen late January at a political event in Switzerland © Keystone / Walter Bieri

Swiss Defence Minister Viola Amherd, who has been attending an international security conference in Munich, says Switzerland must be prepared for cyber and terror threats. She also expressed her concern about the cooling of transatlantic relations.

This content was published on February 17, 2019 - 18:48
SRF/AP/Keystone-SDA/ilj

Amherd, the first woman to hold the defence post in Switzerland, made her comments to Swiss public broadcaster SRF on Sunday as she wrapped up her attendance at the Munich Security Conference.

The annual gathering of top defense and foreign policy officials, which ran from February 15-17, has been marked by tense relations between Europe and the United States over Iran.

“There was little optimism to be heard, the talks and the panel discussions were rather pessimistic. This corresponds to our analysis of the current threat situation,” Amherd said.

On whether this had consequences for Swiss security, the minister said that Switzerland had to be prepared for threats such as cyber security and terrorism, but also for disinformation such as fake news and espionage. The state of US-Europe relations was also a concern, she added.

EU-US

On Saturday German Chancellor Angela Merkel European powers' decision to stand by the Iran nuclear deal – which the US left last year – and also stood by a multilateral approach to global affairs, but US Vice President Mike Pence responded by accusing Europe of once again undermining the US.

+ Read more about the Swiss position on the Iran accord here

Amherd also took part in several panels and discussions and met several colleagues for short talks while at the event. There were representatives from more than 30 countries at the conference.

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Of particular importance for the minster was her meeting with her French counterpart Florence Parly, Amherd added. France and Switzerland intend to step up collaboration against cyber and ABC (atomic, biological, chemical) threats, she said.

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