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Through SWI, the whole world discusses neutrality

Through SWI, the whole world discusses neutrality

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky and Swiss President Ignazio Cassis. Is it compatible with expressing neutrality with solidarity with Ukraine? Does neutrality mean staying silent against a Russian attack? These are also questions being asked by the swissinfo.ch SWI reader community. Key Press / Presidential Press Service

The Russian war against Ukraine has led to a fundamental reflection on the concept of neutrality, its role and its interpretation. Over the past few weeks, the swissinfo.ch community of SWI readers from around the world has been contributing to the exchange of interesting ideas in ten languages.

This topic was published on April 14, 2022 – 9:00 pm

“What does the word ‘neutrality’ mean?” he said to a post Swiss user from Japan, and he answers the question as follows: “Neutrality means not being on both sides in a war. For me, economic sanctions are also a form of war. We are no longer ‘neutral’ and we went in. in Ukraine. “

“Being neutral means supporting Putin,” reads this flag at a rally in Vienna, where a heated debate on neutrality has also erupted. Georges Schneider / Picturedesk.com

On the other hand, the opinion of another user from Japan adds: “In the old wars for sovereignty, neutrality made sense. However, today we must take a stand between a State that suppresses human rights and freedom and democratic, “writes Aka Hoppy.

Not only from Japan, SWI users are actively participating in the debate on the future of democracy. Since mid – March, we have published one hundred contributions in ten different languages ​​and recorded hundreds of reactions.

Many users in Switzerland are also participating in the debate on neutrality. “Switzerland must remain strictly neutral at all times,” writes a Francophone commentator, adding: “Neutrality is the foundation on which our country’s power and livelihoods are built.”

‘Tiktok2021’ is less categorical: “Swiss neutrality is often seen as a fig leaf for the mercantilist aspirations of ‘Western’ countries. Therefore, like Switzerland, we should consider how our neutrality can be used for the benefit of mankind in the future. .

New definition of “non-state” neutrality.

Another English user, ‘Nick Kyriazi’, expressed his thoughts through the following comment: “I propose a new definition of neutrality: the Government does not take sides. Individuals and companies need to decide which side they are on. I wonder why, for example, if I should continue to buy Apple products because I do not like the idea of ​​supporting the Chinese government to put pressure on Hong Kong and the Uyghur population.

In the first few weeks, numerous users from Ukraine and Russia took part in the neutrality debate on SWI swissinfo.ch. This is not surprising, given that the term ‘neutrality’ has been used repeatedly in negotiations between the two states to end Russian violence. I interview with Russian independent mediaexternal linkUkrainian President Zelensky stressed that any peace agreement with a ‘neutral’ Ukraine should be subject to the judgment of the Ukrainian people by referendum.

However, he did not specify what kind of neutrality his country might have. There are many types of neutrality and it will not be easy to find one that will satisfy the conflicting demands of kyiv and Moscow. On April 7, Zelensky confirmed to the Jerusalem Postexternal link: “We cannot speak of Ukraine as ‘Switzerland of the future’; our country will not be able to be for long.”

“I sincerely wish that the people of Ukraine will be able to live like Switzerland,” Zelensky said via video link at a rally in the Swiss capital, Bern. © Keystone / Peter Klaunzer

Major obstacles to a ‘sustainable’ solution

Eric Golson from the University of Surrey (UK) researches trade wars. In his view, the declarations of intent of the president of Ukraine on the policy of neutrality make sense. However: “Maintaining neutrality at the national level in the long run requires a strong civil society and credible solid state institutions.” But now they are devastated by the Russian war against Ukraine.

In addition, there is the international dimension, emphasizes Golson, who wrote his thesis on the neutrality of Switzerland, Sweden and Spain during World War II. A referendum within Ukraine on the issue, the British expert says, would certainly give “more credibility to neutrality.”

Swiss political scientist Pascal Lottaz, who teaches “neutrality studies” at Japan’s Waseda University, agrees: “It’s a good idea and also a protection for the president. Zelensky must be able to secure any future population deal.” Pascal Lottaz is very impressed with the debate that took place through SWI in ten languages: “The topic has developed in many directions and generates different opinions. The trade between economic and military instruments is often mentioned, and that is an quid Of course, the debate on neutrality has a direct impact on Switzerland, a traditionally neutral country.

Following the Swiss sanctions against Russia, the Swiss conservative right has proposed a common initiative to define “absolute neutrality” at the constitutional level. That would prevent the government from imposing economic sanctions in the future. To date, Switzerland has pursued “different neutrality”, which allows measures similar to the one being applied for Ukraine.

“Neutral to atrocities?”

However, the think tank (think tank) liberal Switzerland future in favor of this more open interpretation of ‘neutrality’: “We do not see any violation of the principles of neutrality laid down in the Hague Conventions even in even closer cooperation with NATO and the EU”, says Lukas Rühli, who has written new reportexternal link on security policy Switzerland future: “It must be doubted that, in a future characterized by greater bipolarity between liberal democracies and state capital autonomy, Switzerland will interpret its policy of neutrality more and more in favor of its allied countries. own values. “

An Italian user summed it up in a SWI discussion after the Russian war crimes in Ukraine were revealed: “How can we stay neutral in the face of these attacks?”

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