Transfer of Swiss arms to Ukraine 'should be permitted', lawmakers say

AFP - [email protected] • 25 Jan, 2023 Updated Wed 25 Jan 2023 09:25 CEST
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Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky has been pleading for more help to Ukraine. Photo by Fabrice COFFRINI / AFP)

A Swiss parliamentary commission voted Tuesday to request a change to the country's laws to allow its war material to be transferred via third countries to Ukraine.

Switzerland has so far refused to allow countries that hold Swiss-made weaponry to export it on to war-ravaged Ukraine, in line with its strict
military neutrality.

Under Switzerland's War Material Act, export requests cannot be approved if the recipient country is in an international armed conflict.

But the parliament's security policy committee decided Tuesday, with 14 votes in favour and 11 opposed, to back a motion to request a law change to make such transfers possible.

That motion maintained it should be possible to revoke the declarations of non-reexport, which countries purchasing Swiss arms must sign, "in cases where there is a violation of the international ban on resorting to force, and specifically in the case of the Russian-Ukrainian war," the commission said in a statement.

The Swiss government could still decide to continue barring the transfer of Swiss weaponry in cases where a repeal of the non-reexport declaration posed "major" risks to Swiss foreign policy, it said. 

The full parliament will likely need to give its approval before the change can be implemented.

The commission considered two proposals for how to move forward.

One motion involved revoking the non-reexport declaration in cases where at least two-thirds of the United Nations General Assembly determines there has been an illegal use of force.

The second entails an emergency law that would render null and void no-reexport declarations in any case where it is determined the war material
is going to Ukraine in the context of the Russian-Ukrainian war.

Such a change should be put in place swiftly, and should remain in place until the end of 2025, the statement said.

"A majority of the commission deemed that Switzerland should contribute to European security, which goes through more significant assistance to Ukraine," it said.

The statement said a minority of the commission has voiced concern that the transfer of Swiss war material to Ukraine could jeopardise Switzerland's neutral status.

But the majority had determined that the proposed change could be carried out in compliance with Swiss neutrality, "since it does not permit direct
exports of war material to areas in conflict," it said.



AFP 2023/01/25 09:25

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