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Switzerland is under pressure from Ukraine and its allies to authorise the re-export of Swiss weapons by third countries. So far, the Federal Council, which has been approached by Germany, Denmark and Spain, has categorically refused, citing the country’s neutrality status and laws on arms exports. Criticism from abroad has been fierce, while at home the debate on Switzerland’s role in wartime in the heart of Europe is raging.  

Several proposals to relax the legislation were submitted to parliament, which took up the issue. Should Switzerland, which has aligned itself with EU sanctions, take a further step in the name of democratic values and solidarity with the Ukraine, which has been invaded by Russia?

Or should it stick to a strict definition of neutrality that prohibits any export or re-export of military equipment to a country at war?  More radically, would it not be better to give up exporting arms altogether, or even manufacturing them, in order to save neutrality? 

The debate is taking an identity-based turn internally and straining relations with the outside world. As parliament takes up the issue in its summer session, the Swiss Press Club opens the debate on Friday 2 June with leading experts and players.

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Mrs Micheline Calmy Rey

Former President of the Swiss Confederation and former Federal Councillor for Foreign Affairs. Author of a recent book entitled "Pour la neutralité active"

Mr. Olivier Français

Member of the Council of States (VD) in the Swiss Parliament. Member of the Committee on Security Policy

Mr. Andreas Gross

Former National Councillor, founding member of the Group for a Switzerland without an Army (GSSA)

Mr. Philippe Zahno

General Secretary of the Groupe romand pour le matériel de défense (GRPM comprises 60 companies in Western Switzerland)

Moderator : Mr. Pierre Ruetschi

Executive Director, Geneva Press Club

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