Switzerland commits to hosting Ukraine peace summit
In a statement, the Swiss government announced its intention to host a peace summit designed to end hostilities between Ukraine and Russia. It follows the arrival of Ukrainian President Volodomyr Zelenskyy in Switzerland ahead of the World Economic Forum (WEF) in Davos.
Switzerland planning a peace summit on Ukraine
At a media conference, President of Switzerland Viola Amherd confirmed that Ukraine had asked the Federal Council to organise a peace summit. The event, set to be hosted in Geneva, will be designed to “work for a fair and lasting peace” between Russia and Ukraine, which have been embroiled in open conflict since Russia invaded the country on February 24, 2022.
"Switzerland supports the peace process," Amherd confirmed, adding that while the dates of the summit are yet to be concluded, peace talks had already been discussed with 80 different nations ahead of the WEF at the Swiss ski resort of Davos, which began on January 16. She added that a Swiss-Ukrainian 10-point plan for peace and the reconstruction of Ukraine after the war would be at the centre of the summit.
Switzerland has allocated 1,5 billion francs towards the reconstruction of Ukraine after the war. The peace summit itself will be organised by the Federal Department of Foreign Affairs and its minister Ignazio Cassis.
President of Ukraine arrives in Zurich ahead of the WEF
The announcement follows the arrival of Volodomyr Zelenskyy in Zurich on January 15, his first-ever visit to Switzerland. The Ukrainian president was quickly whisked away to Bern, where he met the leaders of all Swiss political parties, with the notable exception of the election-winning Swiss People’s Party (SVP) - speaking to SRF, SVP president Marco Chiesa said that he did not have time for the meeting.
Speaking at the conference with Amherd, Zelenskyy confirmed that Switzerland would take the lead in organising the peace summit. When asked who would be invited, he said that anyone who “recognised Ukraine’s territorial integrity” would be welcome, adding that he hoped China would be a main player at the negotiating table.
The president called on Switzerland to maintain its efforts to sanction Russian oligarchs and equipment used to fuel the Russian war effort. “For Switzerland, being neutral does not mean ignoring reality”, he told reporters, writing later on X that he was “grateful to Switzerland for its support of Ukraine's sovereignty and territorial integrity, as well as for humanitarian assistance.”
Russo-Ukraine war leads to questions over Swiss neutrality
From the War of Spanish Succession in 1714 to today, Switzerland has often played the role of mediator in conflict, with Swiss cities used to host summits designed to achieve lasting peace. While the talks are not always successful, the country’s policy of neutrality has allowed it to play host to warring sides and act as a go-between between factions that refuse to meet face-to-face.
However, Switzerland’s support for Ukraine has brought its neutrality into question for some. Speaking to 20 Minuten, SVP foreign policy expert Roland Rino Büchel said, “I will soon no longer be surprised at how unconditionally Switzerland is siding with a warring party.” “Neutral Switzerland must not take sides in this senseless slaughter…Switzerland can only maintain neutrality if it also invites Vladimir Putin to Bern.”
In response, Social Democratic National Councillor Fabian Molina said that “it is ridiculous how the SVP behaves," arguing that members of the party are "clearly on Putin's side". "Their only interest in foreign policy is to continue doing business with autocrats...Putin will not stop in Kyiv if he wins the war. That’s why Switzerland has a vital interest in supporting Ukraine as best it can,” he concluded.
Swiss-Ukrainian peace summit is just talking, says Kremlin
Sadly, the idea of a peace summit has not been well received publicly by Russia, with Kremlin spokesperson Dmitry Peskov calling the discussions “a matter of talking for the sake of talking." He told Swissinfo that for obvious reasons, without Russia also agreeing to peace talks, the Swiss peace summit “has no prospects.”
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