That's what Berset says about the tank request from Germany


Federal President in New YorkThat’s what Berset says about the tank request from Germany

President Alain Berset defended Switzerland’s neutrality in front of journalists in New York. In addition, the legal framework must be observed, he says with a view to the arms export issues.

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Alain Berset said that now is not the time for changes. You can’t make exceptions either.


Berset met UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres in New York.  (March 6, 2023)

Berset met UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres in New York. (March 6, 2023)


Germany wants to buy back Swiss Leopard tanks.  (icon picture)

Germany wants to buy back Swiss Leopard tanks. (icon picture)

20 minutes/Simon Glauser

That’s what it’s about

  • Germany wants to buy Swiss Leopard tanks and their predecessors.

  • Federal President Alain Berset is skeptical about this.

  • In New York he defends Switzerland’s position.

In the face of the Ukraine war, Switzerland has reaffirmed its constitutionally enshrined neutrality and has continued to be adamant about any arms deliveries to Ukraine. “In view of our legal framework in Switzerland, arms exports are not possible,” said Federal President Alain Berset to journalists in New York on Tuesday. “We must and want to maintain this legal framework for the government and the Federal Council.”

Berset defended his country’s traditional “very cautious and moderate” position and in this context also expressed skepticism about demand from Germany regarding a buyback of decommissioned Leopard tanks. Changes to the framework conditions are currently being discussed by Parliament. But it is “not the time for changes and we cannot make exceptions,” said the Swiss President on the sidelines of a meeting of the UN Women’s Rights Council.

Neutrality debate topical again

At the end of February, Germany had asked Switzerland for approval for the German armaments group Rheinmetall to buy back decommissioned Leopard tanks. Since Switzerland is not allowed to deliver weapons to countries at war due to its principle of neutrality, Berlin assured that it would not send the tanks to Ukraine.

The tanks are intended to fill the gaps that have arisen in Germany or with NATO and EU partners as a result of deliveries to Ukraine. The Swiss Army has 134 Leopard 2 tanks in service and 96 Leopard 2 tanks in storage. The tanks are regularly tested, but have not been modernized.

The neutrality debate has become more topical in this country since the Russian invasion of Ukraine. While the sanctions imposed on Russia by the European Union are supported, Switzerland has so far been adamant about its military neutrality. However, various initiatives to relax the regulations are being discussed in Parliament, but a decision is not expected for a few months.

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Deborah Acker

I write epic fantasy; self-published via KDP. Devoted dog mom to my 10 yr old GSD, Shadow! DM not a priority; slow response at best #amwriting #author.

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