Switzerland belatedly discovers that it can’t redefine the concept of neutrality.
Russia has turned down a Swiss offer to represent Ukrainian interests in Russia and Moscow’s interests in Ukraine because it no longer considers Switzerland a neutral country.
Switzerland has a long diplomatic tradition of acting as an intermediary between countries whose relations have broken down, but Russian foreign ministry spokesperson Ivan Nechayev said on Thursday this was not possible in the current situation.
“The Swiss were indeed interested in our opinion on the possible representation of Ukraine’s interests in Russia and Russia’s in Ukraine,” Nechayev said. “We very clearly answered that Switzerland had unfortunately lost its status of a neutral state and could not act either as an intermediary or a representative. Bern has joined illegal Western sanctions against Russia.”
Switzerland has mirrored nearly all the sanctions that the European Union imposed on Russia over its military intervention in Ukraine.
No independent sovereign nation is going to trust the Swiss any longer or permit them to act as a neutral intermediary now that their federal government has not only taken sides in the NATO-Russian war, but foolishly chosen the losing side. If the current Federal Council had been in charge when WWII started, it would have taken the side of the Axis and gotten the country occupied by 1944.
This really isn’t that surprising. If the federal government ever decides to redefine chocolate to mean “something that isn’t chocolate”, the demand for Swiss chocolate will collapse too.
If you are as others see you, then the recent statement by a Russian foreign ministry spokesperson that “Switzerland had unfortunately lost its status of a neutral state” could be a tipping point in any understanding of what neutrality and Swiss neutrality mean. It is one thing for the 200-year-old Swiss “perpetual neutrality” recognised at the Congress of Vienna in 1815 to be questioned internally, but for a major power, a member of the United Nations Security Council, to make such a declaration adds a new dimension to the ongoing domestic and global discussions of what neutrality means.
Neutrality means not taking sides. If you take a side, if you engage in economic sanctions or military conflict, then you obviously are not neutral. It’s not just the Russians who recognize that Switzerland is no longer a neutral state, but China and the rest of the BRICSIA coalition too. And what is the significance of “international law” that 80 percent of the global population does not recognize or respect?