Collective commitment to our security

Collective commitment to our security

by Pierre-Gabriel Bieri

Because of the expected inflow of migrants the Federal Council plans to support border controls by deployment of the army. This will lead to inconveniences for the population and barriers for companies. We should brace ourselves up for that. At the same time we need to bear in mind that the security of a country is one of the main preconditions for its prosperity.

Shifting migration flows

For several months Europe has been confronted with endless flows of migration from Africa and the Middle East. After a period of hesitation, in which thousands of nameless people – without knowledge of their origin – could enter, now several central European countries and Balkan states responded and closed their borders. Blocking the access to Germany and Scandinavian countries will likely lead the next wave of migrants to choose the route via Italy and Switzerland.
This prospect, underpinned by “unsettling” reports, had lead Federal Councillor Guy Parmelin, Head of the Federal Department of Defence, Civil Protection and Sport (VBS), to target support of the Border Guard and police forces on the southern border of Switzerland by the army. A decision on the nature and modalities of such a mission is probably imminent. According to media reports, already four battalions of about 4,000 soldiers received a letter announcing a change in of their planned summer training.
In a time in which we have become accustomed to believe that nothing and no one could threaten us and the army is no longer of any use for us, this announcement may sound strange. Reality is now hitting back: The peace in which we have lived for 70 years, is indeed a unique opportunity, but not to be taken for granted, and the army itself remains necessary, even in the era of “cyber attacks” to secure the territory. The various forms of international cooperation are useful preventive instruments, but – as the current situation in Europe shows – in crisis times every state hastens to take its security into their own hands. Recently it was announced that Austria has also mobilised its army for border controls.

Restrictions on population and businesses

Fortunately there is currently no veritable conflict; the soldiers are used to control the people at the border and ensure that each and every entrant is correctly checked and recorded, and that the number of travellers entering does not exceed the feasible. Nevertheless, such an effort will cause inconvenience for the affected population, and some will see their private activities and summer projects overturned or restricted.
Resorting to the militia army will likely also affect the activities of certain companies, as they have to deal with unplanned absences of their staff. The VBS chief executive officer is aware of this and has already gone on record. Press had also been reported on this concern.
However, to put this into perspective, it should be mentioned that the charges due to military absences have decreased significantly and are today much lower than absences due to sickness or maternity – which are not predictable by definition. It is therefore to be hoped that the companies will be good with any possibly additional absences during this summer.

The price of security

It is not the question of denying the cost of these absences or the associated difficulties. But if there is a constant and persistent fight against the smallest increase of cost that are imposed on the private sector, we know very well what these absences mean. It is, however, to be considered that the safety and stability of a country are important conditions for its prosperity and those come at a price. This is reflected in special efforts of individuals and the population as whole.
The best thing you can do is to be prepared. In this respect we can be grateful to Federal Councillor Parmelin for immediately and transparent information.     •
(Translation Stefanie Meier-Gubser)

Source: from 20 April 2016 No 2175

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