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Security programme takes middle path

After months of wrangling over different visions of the Swiss army’s role, the cabinet on Wednesday accepted the defence minister’s draft new security report.

This content was published on April 15, 2010 - 17:11

The report, presented to the media on Thursday, takes a middle road between those who want to maintain Switzerland’s traditional strict neutrality, and those who believe it should be more open and cooperate militarily with other countries.

The threat to Switzerland has not fundamentally changed since the last report issued in 1999, ministers agreed.

“Switzerland’s current security strategy is basically the correct one and is to be continued,” a defence ministry statement on the cabinet decision said.

The report considers security not only at federal level, but looks at the policy in the cantons and communes. It calls for better cooperation between the different levels.

While an attack on Switzerland is currently unlikely, it cannot be ruled out in the long term. The army must ensure that it always has sufficient capacity to meet any challenge, says the report.

Switzerland will preserve its permanent armed neutrality, but this “in no way rules out general cooperation”. However, any involvement in military operations abroad must also be defensible in the context of domestic policy.

Membership of a military alliance like Nato is not an option, but a general agreement with the European Union aimed at promoting peace is a major part of Swiss policy.

While there are no immediate plans to change the system under which all young Swiss are called up to serve the country, there could be changes of detail in the medium or long term.

Interested parties now have until June to contribute their views before the government adopts the final version to be sent to parliament for debate.

swissinfo.ch and agencies

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