Since the outbreak of the war in Ukraine, European states have been rethinking their security and neutrality policies. Meanwhile, debates are also taking place in Switzerland, in contrast to Austria. Why is that? An analysis.
The shock of the war in Ukraine was omnipresent when debates over Austria’s neutrality erupted in early March 2022. Former National Council President Andreas Kohl advocated joining NATO or working in an EU army. ÖVP spokesman Friedrich Ofenauer called for a discussion on neutrality. But the speech was quickly suppressed. “Austria was neutral, Austria is neutral, Austria will also remain neutral,” said Chancellor Karl Nehammer (ÖVP): “For my part, the discussion is over.”
Since then, it has been decided in Austria that the army will receive more money. Top politicians sporadically comment on neutrality: on Friday, for example, Nehammer rejected Russia’s accusation that Austria was no longer neutral. However, there were no longer major debates about security policy in this country.
Sweden, on the other hand, analyzed the upheavals resulting from the war in Ukraine in a parliamentary working group. In May 2022, she filed a report that followed an application for NATO membership. Finland did the same as its neighbor. In Switzerland, too, there is a debate about neutrality. The reason is the question of whether weapons of Swiss origin can be delivered to Ukraine. The armaments industry fears a loss of sales and an amendment to the War Material Act is being considered. There is a public debate about the limits of Swiss neutrality.