Multipolar world order – a premise for the sovereignty of small states?

PETER BERGER – Input to the conference “Not to forget!” of the Belgrade Forum from 21 to 24 March 2024

Peter Berger

I would like to say a few words about the situation in my country, where an unscrupulous Atlanticist elite is in the process of dismantling Switzerland’s neutrality. This seems to me to be a matter that does not concern my country alone. In a certain sense, it is a fundamental issue for the entire international community.

It is an honour for me to be able to do this here in Serbia, in a country that is no less under pressure from NATO imperialism than Switzerland. The difference, however, is that Serbia has a government that resists this pressure and defends the interests and sovereignty of its country. I congratulate the Serbian people on this. At the same time, I am ashamed that my country, Switzerland, does not respect Serbia’s sovereignty and disregards the territorial integrity of this country by recognising the EU protectorate on Serbian territory and participating in KFOR. That is not neutrality! And that is our problem.

Over the course of its history, Switzerland’s neutrality has shown a changeable face. Often characterised by opportunism, but mostly also by isolationism. It was the strengthening of the Non-Aligned Movement gave Switzerland a little more diplomatic room for manoeuvre and provided it with a certain degree of sovereignty between the blocs. This resulted in a more open policy of neutrality. In the 1970s and 1980s, Swiss foreign policy was characterised by a degree of openness that had rarely been seen before – and which has unfortunately been lacking ever since. This was expressed, among other things, in active participation in the CSCE and in closer cooperation and coordination with other neutral European states such as Sweden, Finland, Austria and Yugoslavia.

With the end of the Warsaw Pact, things began to change visibly again. With the increasing power of the imperialist hegemon, whatever sovereign Swiss foreign policy had been able to develop in the preceding years was progressively destroyed. A process of undermining Swiss neutrality began, combined with the creeping integration of the Swiss army into NATO: first Partnership for Peace, then soon army deployments to support imperialist interventions in third countries, such on missions like KFOR. Military co-operation with NATO is becoming ever closer. The command regulations have been harmonised with those of NATO, combined staff exercises are part of this, and Switzerland is losing its self-determination in important questions of armament.

The government does not shy away from trickily circumventing or avoiding referendums. This was also the case with the procurement of 35 US F-35 fighter jets, although the purchase is also controversial because there are major question marks over the suitability of the aircraft for airspace surveillance in a small state. But the concept secretly behind the procurement is a different one: the aircraft are to be available for joint tasks with NATO. That is precisely why these aircraft were absolutely necessary. And remember: US agencies can intervene in the operation of this planes at any time via the electronics!

The ever closer cooperation with NATO has led to the personal relationships between the army cadres and NATO becoming ever more intimate. This is exploited by NATO to influence personnel decisions made by the Swiss authorities. This was the case recently when a new position for a State Secretary for Security Policy was created. The government had initially nominated a qualified and experienced diplomat. Under pressure from NATO, this nomination was cancelled and an army officer with a solid Atlanticist orientation was promoted to the post.

This example shows how Nato’s influence has long extended beyond the military sphere: the military alliance is interfering in sensitive areas of Swiss politics. Similar to subordination to Nato, the EU integration sought by the political elites undermines the country’s sovereignty and neutrality. It can be seen today that the government is proving incapable of developing an autonomous and independent policy for the country. The most blatant example to date is the follow-up with sanctions against the Russian Federation and the Republic of Belarus, which are even more extensive than those imposed by the EU. Switzerland has thus subjected itself to US and EU dictates to its own detriment. And above all, it has definitively lost the equidistance from the parties to the conflict that would be necessary for neutral mediation. Today, no one is waiting for Switzerland in this respect. Other states that have not sacrificed their credibility have long since stepped into the gap.

So what needs to be done to ensure that the country does not continue to degenerate into a vassal of the USA and the EU? How can Switzerland regain more sovereignty? What is necessary for Switzerland to return to integral neutrality so that it can once again play a constructive role in the international community?

The defence of neutrality is currently a central task. It will only be successful if a tactical united front can be formed between all those in favour of neutrality on this issue, whether they justify their stance as anti-imperialist and internationalist or more isolationist. A popular initiative is currently underway calling for a new constitutional article in favour of binding neutrality and a ban on the imposition of sanctions. If this popular initiative achieves the necessary number of signatures, there is a chance that a national referendum will be held to support the political class in its efforts to dismantle neutrality.

Securing or regaining neutrality is a first step – and at the same time an important prerequisite for reorienting the country towards a multipolar perspective: For a Switzerland without the extraterritorial application of US sanctions; for a Switzerland in which the dignity of diplomacy is once again valid; for a Switzerland that stands up for fair cooperation with emerging countries instead of subordinating itself to the interests of a hegemon; for a credible Switzerland that mediates instead of taking sides unilaterally. And: the stronger the geopolitical dynamic towards a multipolar world order becomes, the faster we can get there – in the interests of the peaceful development of the entire family of nations.

NO Nato – NO EU!

Translated with (free version)