March 22, 2023

In a historic first, Swiss defence minister joins meeting of NATO’s North Atlantic Council

Viola Amherd, Swiss Federal Councillor and Head of the Federal Department of Defence, Civil Protection and Sport, visited NATO Headquarters on Wednesday (22 March 2023) for talks with Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg, and to meet with NATO ambassadors. Her participation in the North Atlantic Council was the first-ever by a Swiss defence minister.

In their bilateral meeting, Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg thanked Minister Amherd for Switzerland’s close partnership with NATO, including its contribution of almost 200 troops to the Alliance’s KFOR mission in Kosovo. [Switzerland also provided a small contingent of troops for NATO’s mission in Afghanistan – RR] Underlining a shared commitment to the rules-based international order, the Secretary General underlined that Switzerland’s neutrality is not an obstacle to working with NATO [!]….He further thanked Switzerland for its humanitarian support to Ukraine, including through NATO’s Comprehensive Assistance Package. He urged the Swiss government to reconsider its position on barring re-export of Swiss-made arms and ammunition to Ukraine….

At a meeting of the North Atlantic Council chaired by Deputy Secretary General Mircea Geoană, Allies also expressed appreciation for Switzerland’s close partnership with NATO, including its substantial contributions to stability in the Western Balkans, and its mirroring of EU sanctions on Russia. Many NATO Allies also called on Switzerland to reconsider its legislation preventing the re-export of arms and ammunition to Ukraine….