Swiss right calls for army to reinforce borders

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Caroline Bishop - [email protected]
Swiss right calls for army to reinforce borders
Defence minister Ueli Maurer. Photo: Sebastien Bozon/AFP

Swiss defence minister Ueli Maurer has called for Switzerland to use the army to reinforce its borders following the terrorist atrocities in Paris on Friday night, comments that have riled left-wing politicians.


Maurer, a member of the right-wing Swiss People’s Party (SVP), told newspaper SonntagsBlick that he wasn’t surprised about the Paris attacks and that such an attack in Switzerland “is no longer totally abstract, but conceivable”.

He spoke of the need to strengthen border controls using the help of the army, saying such measures were “politically taboo” but “necessary”.

He also told SonntagsBlick that the Schengen and Dublin agreements with the EU “obviously do not work”.

On Saturday the country stepped up police presence at rail stations and French diplomatic buildings, and increased border controls between France and Switzerland.

But these steps are not enough, according to the SVP, which met in Bern on Saturday.

In a statement published on its website, the party expressed its “deep worry over the terrible terrorist acts committed in Paris and also over the uncontrolled wave of immigration in Europe.”

The party said it was “in favour of a strong army to guard the security of this country and its inhabitants” and asked the federal government “to immediately guarantee the security of national borders and stop illegal entry.”

Some on the political left reacted in anger to the SVP's linking of the Paris attacks with the migrant crisis in Europe.

“I find it pitiful that the SVP uses the drama in Paris to recycle its obsessions,” Green politician Robert Cramer told the Tribune de Genève.  

Socialist Pierre-Alain Fridez said the use of the army shouldn’t be ruled out, the Tribune.

But he said such a move should only be made if it is proven that terrorists are using the same channels as asylum seekers and border guards are in real need of help.

“The most important thing is to continue to respect the rights and dignity of migrants,” he said.

According to Vigipol, a coordinated security plan implemented by police in French-speaking cantons, no concrete threat exists towards Switzerland at the moment but “the risk of isolated copycat actions by disturbed individuals cannot be completely ruled out”, reported the Tribune de Genève.

Since the federal elections on October 18th the SVP holds 65 of the 200 seats in the Swiss parliament’s lower house, making it the country’s biggest party.

The party also looks likely to get a key second seat in the country's seven-member cabinet after the resignation of finance minister Eveline Widmer-Schlumpf.


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