Sunday, March 30, 2014

Switzerland's actions breaking its stand on neutrality?

In a statement, on Friday, Russia singled out Switzerland and criticized their measures taken to punish Moscow for the "illegal annexation" of Crimea, Ukraine. The Russian foreign ministry claimed the Swiss reaction of putting travel restrictions on Russian government officials was “unjustified and counterproductive.” Russians claimed the restrictions were part of a “prejudiced point of view” did not conform to Switzerland’s stand of neutrality. Switzerland’s Foreign Minister, Didier Burkhalter, condemned Russia’s actions in Crimea. He stated that the country had to balance their own interests of maintaining neutrality and respecting international laws. As a part of Europe’s single border Schengen agreement, Switzerland would apply travel restrictions against a group of Russian nationals and that these restrictions would be changed depending on how the situation in Crimea evolves. The Russian foreign ministry also claimed the Western states of the UN as putting shameless pressure on others to vote against Russia.

To read the article, click here 

Burkhalter’s words show that the country does not approve of Russia’s role in Crimea but their actions are not completely based on it. Switzerland managed to maintain being in the middle ground for the longest time and their current actions towards Russia officials is just another example. Rather than completely banning and freezing Russian visas and accounts like the EU and US, Switzerland has limited them and by doing this they have shown they stand in the middle of both sides, maintaining their place as a neutral country. Perhaps their actions can be seen as prejudiced and against Russians, but they still allowed everything to continue, with limitations rather than completely stopping it. As a country, Switzerland does not want to take sides and typically only takes stands on issues involving people’s rights. One of the issues in Crimea does involve the people’s rights and as such, Switzerland may be biased and against Russia but the country has still not done any actions directly opposing Russia and is simply trying to maintain a neutral position while following the laws of the international associations and groups that are current against Russia’s actions in Crimea. 

Like the majority of the world, Switzerland does not approve of Russia's actions in Crimea, but they have done their best in balancing their disapproval, international laws, and their desire for neutrality. Now we just need to see how the Crimea situation plays out and hope for the best.

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