Switzerland’s place in a world of change

by Dr iur. Marianne Wüthrich

The world is in upheaval. It is impressive how people outside the Western bloc are standing up and calling out to their (in fact still) colonial powers: Now it’s time to stop interventions that violate international law and exploitation that violates human rights! From now on, we ourselves will determine our country, our politics and our natural resources.
  As reported by Current Concerns, the Latin American and Caribbean states did not allow themselves to be forced into a final declaration pre-formulated in Brussels at their summit with the EU, not even with the usual attempts at financial blackmail. On the other hand, the Russia-Africa summit was a complete success because President Putin met his guests on an equal footing, as should be the case in all relations between countries and cultures. In the meantime, hopeful signs of a new world order can be seen elsewhere.
  From equal to equal with all peoples, that is also the tradition of Switzerland. In recent decades, many of our politicians and diplomats have unfortunately deviated from this path, which is in keeping with human nature and therefore successful. They have allowed themselves to be harnessed to the interests of major powers. It is time for us to return to the Swiss way and to support the current efforts for a fairer world based on the equality of all peoples as envisaged in the UN Charter.

New developments in world affairs

Niger has become another African state (after Mali and Burkina Faso) to strike a liberation blow. It no longer wants to be “one of the poorest countries in the world”, but wants to sell its great wealth (uranium) at world market prices instead of to French nuclear power plants at knock-down prices as before. Fortunately, none of the 14 other member states of the “Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS)” seems to be willing to wage war for France’s interests against the new government, instead choosing the path of dialogue and diplomacy. In doing so, they are pointing the finger of blame at the Western powers: The conflict in Niger is internal, which means that, according to the UN Charter, no other state has the right to intervene militarily without a decision by the UN Security Council. Have we already become so accustomed to NATO’s medieval law of the jungle that other nations have to remind us what the law is?
  The BRICS summit will take place from 22–24 August. [The article was written and published in Zeit-Fragen before the BRICS meeting; editor’s note.] The alliance of the five giant states Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa invites to Johannesburg, 34 countries have accepted so far. The hegemon’s attempts to divide the alliance have not only failed thoroughly, but an actual countermovement is taking place. An impressive number of countries want to join the BRICS in order to intensify economic cooperation and reduce their dependence on the US dollar. Eleven countries have already made a formal application for membership, another 24 countries an informal one. The Swiss Peter Hänseler, who lives in Moscow, and his colleague Denis Dobrin have compiled facts and figures. Here is just a small excerpt: The inhabitants of the five BRICS countries make up 41% of the world population, with the eleven formal candidates for membership together 52 %, and if you include the informal applicants: 67 %. The remaining countries of the world are referred to in the diagrams as the “rest”.1

What we Swiss can learn from this

For us Swiss, it is a pleasure to witness how more and more states are joining forces to free themselves from their long-standing dependencies on the USA and various Western European states. Switzerland, its current politicians and diplomats would do well to become more self-confident as well and to take back its place as a neutral country linked to all peoples.
  It is time for our politicians and mainstream media to stop staring at Washington and Brussels like hypnotised rabbits. Anyone who believed that by automatically adopting the US-EU sanctions against Russia – in violation of our neutrality and our rule of law – the Federal Council could reduce the pressure on our country was thoroughly mistaken. Authoritarian great powers are not made more lenient by being subjected to them, but they mercilessly exploit the weakness shown and demand more and more. If the hegemon on the other side of the Atlantic had its way, Switzerland would have to confiscate all Russian assets in the country, based solely on the nationality of the owners – that is pure racism! Switzerland would then have to unlawfully expropriate the blocked funds and sink them into the corruption- and crime-ridden bottomless pit in Kiev.
  So far, the Federal Council has proven resistant to such unconstitutional proposals. It is to be hoped that it will remain so. Because with its caving in to the adoption of unilateral sanctions, it has done serious damage to Swiss neutrality, which our forefathers had carefully built up over centuries. The same applies to Parliament’s undignified dithering over the legal ban on the re-export of Swiss weapons by third countries to a warring party.

Latest absurd attack from
the USA against the Swiss rule of law

A Congressional committee in Washington recently asked the US State and Treasury Departments to “place three representatives of the allegedly corrupt Swiss judicial system on the US sanctions list, including former Attorney General Michael Lauber”. The trigger is the US-American Bill Browder, who extracted billions from Russia in the Yeltsin era. He invested 25 million dollars in 1996, a few years later his investment company “Hermitage Capital” was worth 4.5 billion dollars! In 2007 it was liquidated by the Russian state. It is clear that such an “investor” is not well disposed towards Vladimir Putin, who stopped the outflow of Russian state assets to Western profiteers at the time. Since 2011, Browder has been trying to gain access to allegedly laundered funds in Swiss bank accounts. In 2021, however, the Office of the Attorney General of Switzerland closed the case and announced that it would return the disputed CHF 18 million to the account holders. Now the case is before the Swiss Federal Supreme Court in Lausanne for final assessment. And what does Browder do? Because the Swiss judiciary will not allow itself to be corrupted by him, he is actually slandering the Swiss rule of law before the “Helsinki Commission”, a committee in Washington: “Switzerland is a country ‘where the legal system does not work, where the criminal justice system does not work’. And when a justice system doesn’t work, he continued, ‘we have to fix it’. By ‘we’ he meant the USA.”2 This is going too far even for NZZ editor and transatlanticist Georg Häsler. With his question of what would happen if the Federal Court also rejected Browder’s complaint, he takes the absurdity to the extreme: “Would the federal judges involved, as part of an allegedly dysfunctional judicial system, then also be threatened with a request to be put on the US sanctions list?”
  That’s what it’s coming to! They would be wiser to scrutinise their own justice system, for example the case of Julian Assange, who has been tortured and threatened with extradition in the UK for years on the orders of the US, just because he published some inconvenient truths about US war crimes.

Swiss contribution
in the service of world peace

Today, Switzerland has lost its credibility as a neutral state in many places, and its good offices are hardly in demand any more. This is a direct consequence of the lack of rootedness of some of our politicians in the Swiss model of state with neutrality at its core. In a world in upheaval, the Swiss contribution could be particularly helpful. The fact that Swiss history has largely been dropped from the curricula in our schools and is no longer taught at universities is a great misfortune and an underestimation of the importance of people’s awareness of history for their personal development, for the future of their country and for looking beyond their own backyard. The education of the youth must be brought back to the centre: The preservation of the foundations of our state system is based on the direct democratic participation of the Swiss people and their interest in the fate of their communities, cantons and the federal government. This is only possible with a solid civic education in school and active role models in the parental home. The integration of the large foreign share of the population (around a quarter) and of newly naturalised citizens is also based, among other things, on a good understanding of the Swiss state model. The planned 2023 strategy to transform the Swiss army into a de facto NATO unit is admittedly also the result of pressure and flattery from abroad. But without the lack of historical awareness, especially among many young Swiss, the blunt rejection of Swiss neutrality as the basis of our army would not be possible.3
  As a reminder to ourselves, a word from the great Swiss historian Wolfgang von Wartburg: “The prerequisite for the credibility of neutrality is its absolute reliability and the constant striving for impartiality. In this area Switzerland has a unique experience which it can put at the service of world peace.”4  •

1 Hänseler, Peter; Dobrin, Denis. “BRICS – Series – Part 1. BRICS & Co. will change the world”. https://voicefromrussia.ch/
2 Gyr, Marcel and Häsler, Georg. “Nach dem Pressing aus Washington steht das Bundesgericht im Fall Magnitski unter hohem Druck” (After the pressing from Washington, the Federal Court is under High Pressure in the Magnitski Case). In: Neue Zürcher Zeitung of 14 August 2023
3 The Swiss Armed Forces Report 2023 will be dealt with in a forthcoming issue.
4 von Wartburg, Wolfgang. Die Neutralität der Schweiz und ihre Zukunft (Switzerland’s neutrality and its future), 1992 (excerpt).

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