By Timo Kirez
GENEVA (AA) - Swiss Defense Minister Viola Amherd will meet NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg in Brussels on Wednesday.
The meeting will focus on “the possibilities of strengthening cooperation in the field of security policy” between NATO and Switzerland, according to a statement issued Wednesday by the Swiss Defense Ministry.
Amherd will also exchange views with Stoltenberg on the security situation in Europe and military peacebuilding. One topic will also be the Swisscoy deployment in the NATO-led KFOR mission in Kosovo, which expires in 2023.
The Swiss government had requested a three-year extension of the mission in parliament in early March.
Swiss neutrality, which according to the Federal Constitution, requires the federal government and parliament to take measures to safeguard it, has come under pressure as a result of the war in Ukraine.
Although Switzerland had adopted parts of the EU sanctions against Russia, including the freezing of Russian assets, Bern continues to block the transfer of weapons to Ukraine.
Almost two weeks ago, Swiss President Alain Berset accused supporters of the transfer of weapons to Ukraine of being a "war frenzy," but under public pressure he was forced to concede just a few days later that his "choice of words could have been wiser."
Recent polls showed how divided Switzerland has become on the issue of neutrality. In a survey conducted by the University of ETH Zurich and the Center for Security Studies (CSS) in March, 55% were in favor of Switzerland moving closer to NATO. It was the first time that a majority of the Swiss expressed support for rapprochement.
In a February poll by the Swiss institute Sotomo, 55% favored allowing third countries to supply Swiss-made weapons to Ukraine.
Currently, the reexport of Swiss-made arms is possible only with the approval of the Swiss federal government. The government has until recently rejected corresponding applications, including from Germany, for ammunition for the Gepard air defense tank.