Poll: Swiss in favour of European integration

A majority of Swiss support the bilateral accords between Switzerland and the European Union, approve of armed Swiss peace missions abroad and generally feel safe in Switzerland, according to a new poll.

This content was published on December 17, 1999 - 16:16

A majority of Swiss support the bilateral accords between Switzerland and the European Union, approve of armed Swiss peace missions abroad and generally feel safe in Switzerland, according to a new poll.

Researchers at the Federal Institute of Technology in Zurich found that 67 percent are in favour of the bilateral accords, which the Swiss parliament approved earlier this year. EU parliaments still have to ratify the accords and right-wing Swiss opponents have said they will force a vote on the issue.

While only little more than half of the Swiss want outright EU membership right now, a clear majority say they believe that Swiss voters would approve membership ten years from now.

“There appears to be a growing feeling among the Swiss that EU membership is an inevitable step in the process of European integration,” researchers said.

Two-thirds of the Swiss also say they want the country to become a member of the United Nations. Membership has been a highly controversial political issue for years, with nationalist and pro-neutrality campaigners saying that Switzerland would lose its neutral status should the country join the world body.

The government said earlier this week it would again push U.N. membership as one of its foreign policy priorities next year.

Despite opposition from right-wingers, a clear majority of 72 percent support armed peace missions by Swiss soldiers abroad – on condition that the arms are used for protection only.

The issue has taken centre-stage in connection with the KFOR mission in Kosovo, where Swiss soldiers with light arms are serving alongside Austrian KFOR troops.

Swiss law bans armed military service abroad but Defence Minister Adolf Ogi has said he wants an amendment that would allow weapons for armed missions.

Closer to home, the Swiss seem to feel at ease: Researchers found that 80 percent are optimistic about their future and feel “generally safe or very safe.”

From staff and wire reports.

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