The decision comes just a week before Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky is due to address the Swiss parliament. It also comes a day after the Senate approved a plan to allow buyers of Swiss weapons to re-export them to third countries – like Ukraine – under strict conditions.
Thursday’s vote on a motion for a multi-year Ukraine aid package was swayed by a majority of right-of-centre parliamentarians.
They included Foreign Minister Ignazio Cassis, who argued: “The Federal Council has already put together three support packages for the Ukrainian people, not counting the reception of refugees. As the war is still going on, we cannot yet say what the reconstruction needs will be.”
He stressed that Switzerland is already making a sizeable financial contribution. The Swiss government has already earmarked around CHF1.5 billion for Ukraine and its region for the 2025-2028 period, he noted.
“With around CHF300 million planned for 2023-2024, aid will rise to around CHF1.8 billion over the next six years,” he said.
Ukraine Recovery Conference
The second international conference on the reconstruction of UkraineExternal link is due to take place in London on June 21-22, following last year’s meeting in Lugano, organised by Switzerland.
Organisers of the conference hope to mobilise international support for Ukraine’s economic recovery, including emergency assistance for immediate needs and private sector participation in the reconstruction process.
Cassis, who is due to attend the meeting, told the House of Representatives that the Swiss government wants to help with reconstruction in Ukraine, but he stressed that careful clarification of the needs and financing is necessary.
The federal authorities are examining the “legal framework conditions, financing options, and modalities of [Switzerland’s] participation in the reconstruction and the involvement of the private sector”, he said.
“It will deliver its conclusions before the summer holidays. The Federal Council will present a proposal based on these results. It will be in the billions,” Cassis said on Thursday.
Bottom of the European league
Supporters of the motion for the aid package had urged neutral Switzerland to step up its aid commitments for Ukraine.
“Not supplying arms should not exempt us from making our solidarity effort in support of Ukraine,” said Green parliamentarian Nicolas Walder.
He lamented the fact that Switzerland was near the bottom of the European league table in terms of aid for Ukraine: only 0.22% of GDP.
“Austria and Norway do much more in relation to their economic strength. Even Poland spends 3.1% of its GDP on aid,” said Walder.
The House of Representatives Foreign Affairs committee that backed the motion had called on the authorities to make a more substantial multi-year financial commitment towards humanitarian aid, protection of the civilian population, mine clearance, peacebuilding and the reconstruction of civilian infrastructure.
The Senate is due to discuss the question of aid for Ukraine on June 12.
Source : SwissInfo