Switzerland is ‘doubtful’ about Germany’s tank demand

“Given our legal framework in Switzerland, arms exports are not possible. We have to and want to maintain this legal framework for the Government and the Federal Council,” Berset told reporters in New York.

Noting that the Swiss parliament has been discussing a regulation that could allow the transfer of Swiss arms and possible changes in this framework for some time, Berset said, “It is not the time for changes and we cannot make an exception.”

Berset said they were skeptical of Germany’s request.

At the end of February, the German government requested permission from Switzerland to buy back the decommissioned Leopard tanks from the German arms company Rheinmetall. Berlin had given assurances that it would not send tanks to Ukraine, as Switzerland’s principle of neutrality forbade it from supplying arms to warring countries.

Under Swiss law, only decommissioned materials can be sold, which requires parliamentary approval.

This demand was covered in the German press.

According to the news in the German media on March 3, Swiss Defense Ministry Spokesperson Renato Kalbermatten stated that Germany had received a request to buy Leopard 2 tanks.

Kalbermatten stated that Switzerland has 230 Leopard 2 tanks, 134 of them “on duty” and 96 of them temporarily out of use.

Kalbermatten, who did not provide information about how many tanks Germany wants to buy, stated that Swiss law allows the sale of decommissioned vehicles.

German Defense Ministry Spokesperson Arne Collatz also confirmed that such a request was sent to Switzerland in a press conference held in Berlin, and stated in the letter that he would be pleased if Switzerland would consider selling the tanks in its fleet that it had decommissioned.

Stating that the issues related to the number were not discussed, Collatz emphasized that the Leopard 2 tanks in question would not be sent to Ukraine.

Switzerland under pressure

At the World Economic Forum (WEF) and other international organizations held in Davos, Switzerland in January, pressure has increased on the Bern administration to “reconsider its policies”.

Switzerland requires countries that buy its weapons to ask for permission to re-export them.

Alain Berset, President of the Swiss Confederation, pointed out that the neutrality law prohibits the re-export as well as the export of Swiss arms.

Berset also reminded that this article is a part of the agreements signed with the partner countries.

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