Swiss decide against Russian sanctions

Didier Burkhalter
Didier Burkhalter

The Swiss federal government on Wednesday decided not to impose sanctions against Russia for its seizure of Crimea, claiming it wanted to find a “balance” between international law and Switzerland’s interests.

“The position of our country is independent of the UN,” Swiss president Didier Burkhalter told a press conference in Bern, saying Switzerland can only use sanctions when they are based upon “international law and the interests of the Swiss”.

“And in this case the rights and the interests play a role… we need to find a balance,” he added, as well as noting that Russian interests in Switzerland were “very large”.

“The federal council has noted the sanctions imposed by the European Union and the United States,” he added.

Burkhalter said some sanctions imposed by the EU would apply to Switzerland, including a ban on the freedom of movement of some Russian nationals as Switzerland is a member of the Schengen group of European countries, which allow passport-free movement between them.

Burkhalter, who is also the country’s foreign minister, said Switzerland would not allow itself to be used in the conflict.

The majority of Russian gas and petrol is traded in Geneva, and Switzerland is an increasingly popular destination for Russia’s wealthy.

Source: The Local