thk. On Tuesday, 22 September, the National Council had to decide among other things about two motions that argued for the acquisition of transport aircraft for the Swiss army. The business is not new, because about 10 years ago, Parliament had to decide on the same issue and refused buying transport aircraft because they were too expensive and not necessary. At that time the then head of the Department of Defense, Civil protection and Sport Samuel Schmid had voted in favor and experienced a clear rejection of his idea. Due to the two motions, this issue was on the agenda again in the autumn session.
The reasoning that Switzerland needed such aircraft for returning diplomatic personnel from crisis areas was rather a makeshift argument than a real need. So the head of the DDPS, Federal Councillor Ueli Maurer answered to the question of National Councillor Erich von Siebenthal whether Swiss citizens could not have been flown out for security reasons, “because Switzerland had no transportation aircraft” that as far as he knew “this had not happened before” and “had so far never been a problem”.
Just like 10 years ago there is reason to suspect that for those who handed in the motion, the entire affair is probably about the possibility that Switzerland could make military operations in cooperation with NATO. SP member and National Councillor Evi Allemann who voted for the purchase of the transport aircraft had required this elsewhere. The two major Swiss lapses – the mission in Kosovo and the four Swiss officers who were deployed for the NATO organization Partnership for Peace (PfP) in military activity in Afghanistan (see interview with Luzi Stamm) – are not forgotten. Under the guise of “humanitarian intervention” in an illegal war of aggression NATO had bombed Serbia “back to the Stone Age” as they said themselves. To date, the country has not fully recovered from this shock. “The war”, as Major General Bachofner then aptly formulated, “returned to Europe, but we lost respect.”
In such situations, it is a blessing that there are neutral States which can offer their mediation services and are not perceived as a war party. Switzerland must always be aware of that. The National Council made a good job and rejected both motions and thus the acquisition of transport aircraft. This is even more noteworthy since not only the SVP which is known as opposing foreign missions, but also the Greens and more than 20 SP national councillors voted against the transport aircraft. •
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