Swiss sign up to Winter Olympics air defence

Swiss fighter jets will provide cover for Turin Keystone

The air forces of Switzerland and Italy are to work closely to ensure the 2006 Turin Winter Olympics are safe from the threat of terrorist attack.

This content was published on August 31, 2005 - 13:03

The Swiss government is seeking parliamentary approval for a cross-border defence accord with Italy ahead of the games next February.

It comes at a time when the terrorist threat is high, and amid fears that major events like the Olympics could be targeted by terrorists.

"This type of event attracts the attention of the whole world and offers extremist groups the chance to realise their aims through terrorist attacks," the government said in a statement.

The two houses of parliament will vote on the accord during the winter session. It is similar to the one agreed with France after the G8 summit in Evian in August 2003.

Information exchange

The goal is to facilitate the exchange of information between Switzerland and Italy and to improve the possibility of intervention in the event of a specific threat.

The accord does not cover military threats. During cross border engagements air forces are only permitted to use infrared warning fire. The neighbouring country's air force is not permitted to engage in live warning fire or to attempt to shoot down aircraft.

The cabinet says the accord is necessary because the Olympic Games are being held so close to the Swiss border. But the accord will not be limited to the duration of the games.

There is no financial obligation involved for Switzerland. Neither country will be required to cover the cost of the other's air force activities.

On the Swiss side, the necessary costs for the technical systems for exchanging information should come under the defence ministry budget.

swissinfo with agencies

In brief

The Winter Olympics will take place in Turin from February 10 to 26, 2006.

To ensure the security of the event, Italy and Switzerland have signed an accord covering the cooperation of the two countries' air forces.

Switzerland's air defence squadrons are located in bases in Payerne (canton Vaud), Dübendorf (Zurich) and Alpnach (Obwalden).

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