In the Saturday Review from Swiss Radio and TV of 26 February 2022, National Councillor Franz Grüter explained the context of Swiss neutrality with regard to the tragedy in Ukraine. There is another important aspect: our country bears a great responsibility towards the ICRC, the International Committee of the Red Cross, and thus towards all the people who depend on the help of the ICRC.
Swiss neutrality, recognised under international law since 1815, is the foundation for the ICRC’s work.
Moreover, this neutrality must be credible for all parties. In turn, it can only be credible if it is based on an equally credible sovereignty of Switzerland.
Hanspeter Tschannen, Dozwil (Switzerland)
Anyone who has paid a little attention to the negotiations on German unification knows that the future scope of NATO was a relevant issue at the time.
After all, German reunification was NATO’s first eastward enlargement. And the Russian side already had massive reservations about this form of expansion. Mikhail Gorbachev, for example, actually demanded a non-aligned Germany. In the end, a compromise was reached in the “two-plus-four” negotiations: Germany remained a NATO member, but no Western soldiers were to be present in the former GDR, at least for a certain period of time.
No further advancement toward the East was the broad consensus among Western elites at the time – regardless of whether such a guarantee was clearly stated or put in writing. This is now evidenced by a note from the British National Archives discovered by American political scientist Joshua Shifrinson. It concerns a meeting of the political directors of the foreign ministries of the United States, Great Britain, France and Germany in Bonn on 6 March 1991.
The document shows that the British, Americans, Germans and French agreed that NATO membership for the Eastern Europeans was “unacceptable”. The German representative, Jürgen Chrobog, stated: “We made it clear in the two-plus-four negotiations that we would not extend NATO beyond the Elbe. We therefore cannot offer NATO membership to Poland and the others.”
NATO has changed a lot since the end of the Cold War: There is a new orientation and many new member states, most of which were previously part of the Warsaw Pact. Russia sees itself threatened by these changes and claims that NATO’s eastward enlargement would violate agreements.
Werner Ritter, Schaffhausen (Switzerland)
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