A Swiss group wants a referendum to consolidate the country’s neutrality

ZURICH, Nov 9 (Reuters) – A Swiss nationalist group on Tuesday launched an initiative to protect Switzerland’s neutrality and bar it from participating in future sanctions and defense alliances.

The campaign for a referendum was launched by Pro Schweiz, a recently formed association linked to politicians from the country’s right-wing party, in light of Switzerland’s decision to abandon its tradition of neutrality and adopt sanctions punitive measures against Russia.

“You can’t accept the sanctions, but somehow you still want to mediate internationally,” said Christoph Blocher, a former minister of the anti-immigrant Swiss People’s Party.

The proposed legislative change would entrench neutrality in Switzerland’s constitution and in doing so would prevent it from joining a defense alliance unless directly attacked. “Non-military coercive measures”, such as the adoption of sanctions, would also be prohibited.

100,000 signatures in favor of the initiative must be collected by spring 2024 for the case to be put before Swiss voters in a national referendum.

Reporting by Noele Illien; Editing by Toby Chopra

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