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Swiss defence minister says NATO open to closer ties

Stoltenberg and Amherd shaking hands
Amherd (right) also met Stoltenberg at the 2022 WEF meeting in Davos. © Keystone / Laurent Gillieron

The Swiss defence minister, Viola Amherd, has held talks with NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg to boost cooperation with the western military alliance.

Speaking in Brussels on Wednesday following a meeting with Stoltenberg, Amherd said NATO was open to such a proposal aimed at strengthening military ties.

Switzerland wants to extend participation in NATO exercises, develop interoperability between the Swiss army and the alliance, strengthen its role in the competence centres certified by the Atlantic alliance, as well as collaborate more closely in the areas of cyber, resilience and innovation.

Talks are currently underway between Switzerland and NATO about participation in the Individual Partnership and Cooperation Programme.

Neutral Switzerland is not a member of NATO but it has taken part in the alliance’s Partnership for Peace programme for more than 25 years.

It is also involved in the NATO-led peace support mission in Kosovo.

+ What Swiss citizens think about closer cooperation with NATO

Neutrality

Amherd said Switzerland’s neutral status was also an issue in her talks with NATO officials.

They made it clear they would welcome an easing of the ban on the re-exports of Swiss war materiel, according to the Swiss defence minister.

Under current law, arms purchased in Switzerland by another country must not be passed on to third parties.

This policy has been strongly criticised at home and abroad as notably Germany, Denmark as well as Spain want to supply Ukraine with weapons and ammunition originating from Switzerland.

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