Swiss team ready for U.N. police mission in Kosovo

Ten Swiss policemen were fully trained and ready to take up their six-month mission as civilian policemen in Kosovo on Friday under a United Nations mandate.

This content was published on July 15, 1999

Ten Swiss policemen were fully trained and ready to take up their six-month mission as civilian policemen in Kosovo on Friday under a United Nations mandate.

The Swiss team, which underwent two weeks of training in Sweden, will be part of an international force of eventually 3,000 policeman, who will in turn recruit, train and later monitor local police forces in the war-ravaged Serbian province.

The unarmed Swiss policemen will work under the orders of the U.N., which defines the policemen’s mandate.

“This mission allows us to participate in a specific niche of U.N. peacekeeping policies,” said Ambassador Raimund Kunz of the Swiss Foreign Ministry, adding that the Civpol mission allowed Switzerland to actively participate in the reconstruction of a region torn by armed conflict.

Kunz said the operation would not violate Switzerland’s neutrality since Civpol was under U.N. mandate. Even though Switzerland is not a U.N. member, it has regularly contributed non-combat personnel to U.N. election monitoring and peace missions.

There was an outcry in some political groups in Switzerland several weeks ago, when the Swiss government announced that 160 Swiss troops – mostly unarmed – would take part in the NATO-led KFOR mission in Kosovo. The argument was that such participation would violate Swiss neutrality, which had served the country well.

Kunz said the Swiss participation in Civpol marked a long-term commitment and the authorities were therefore setting up a pool of policemen.

The government approved such a pool last month, with the idea of contributing about 20 policemen at a time. Those will carry out their duties under the auspices of the U.N. or the Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe.

Federal police deputy chief Jürg Siegfried Bühler said there would likely be some problems in recruiting enough volunteers because of low staffing numbers at the cantonal police level.

“However, people are interested in the job and are willing to get the training necessary for the mission,” he said.

The U.N. wants Civpol members to be fluent in English and the world body is essentially looking for police officers.

From staff and wire reports.

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