Monday

30th May 2016

Swiss army prepares for euro unrest

  • Protester in Spain: Swiss officials are wary of spreading violence due to the euro-crisis (Photo: Fotomovimiento)

The Swiss army is preparing for possible internal civil unrest as well as waves of refugees from euro-countries as the economic crisis drags on.

Switzerland, a non-EU, non-euro country landlocked between eurozone states, last month launched a military exercise to test its preparedness to deal with refugees and civil unrest.

Dear EUobserver reader

Subscribe now for unrestricted access to EUobserver.

Sign up for 30 days' free trial, no obligation. Full subscription only 15 € / month or 150 € / year.

  1. Unlimited access on desktop and mobile
  2. All premium articles, analysis, commentary and investigations
  3. EUobserver archives

EUobserver is the only independent news media covering EU affairs in Brussels and all 28 member states.

♡ We value your support.

If you already have an account click here to login.

“It's not excluded that the consequences of the financial crisis in Switzerland can lead to protests and violence,” a spokesperson of the Swiss defence ministry told CNBC on Monday. “The army must be ready when the police in such cases requests for subsidiary help.”

Some 2,000 officers took part in the "Stabilo Due" military exercise in eight towns around the country, based on a risk map detailing the threat of internal unrest between warring factions and the possibility of refugees from Greece, Spain, France, Italy and Portugal, according to Swiss media reports.

Swiss defence minister Uli Maurer recently told Schweizer Soldat magazine that there may be an escalation of violence in Europe. "I can’t exclude that in the coming years we may need the army," he said.

Der Sonntag newspaper reported that army chief Andre Blattmann intends to table a proposal for the potential deployment of 1,600 troops to guard airports, industrial plants and international headquarters in Geneva.

An online campaign against Switzerland's mandatory military service (GSoA) meanwhile is arguing that the army is in an "existential crisis" and is looking for a new reason to exist. "It is time to show a red card to the military heads and to lift mandatory service," the campaign group writes.

A referendum could be called next year to decide whether to keep or scrap conscription to the 200,000-strong army, the highest concentration of military men in a European country in relation to the overall population.

The Swiss military plans come as protests against austerity measure in Greece, Spain and Portugal have turned violent in recent weeks.

The Portuguese government on Monday unveiled the harshest budget in decades, with an income tax hike by almost four percent and massive lay-offs in the public sector in order to meet EU targets for deficit and debt.

"Asking for more time would lead us to a dictatorship of debt and to failure," Portuguese finance minister Vitor Gaspar said as about 2,000 protesters gathered in front of the parliament and a general strike was called for 14 November.

In Greece, an unprecedented 7,000 policemen were deployed last week to keep German Chancellor Angela Merkel safe from stone-hurling Greeks. Meanwhile a few days after, Coca-Cola, the main foreign investor in Greece, announced it would leave the country and move to Switzerland.

Finance ministers baulk at tax-avoidance rules

Member states will discuss again in June a proposed directive to outlaw practices used by large companies to avoid paying taxes. Meanwhile, the European Parliament makes progress on its probe of Panama Papers.

News in Brief

  1. Juncker to seek renewed backing for TTIP talks
  2. EP president rules out return to German politics
  3. Austrian far-right wants to probe election fraud accusations
  4. Irish PM warns Brexit could bring back border controls
  5. Truckmakers risk record cartel fine
  6. London mayor teams up with British PM on Brexit
  7. Syrian refugees sue Denmark over immigration law
  8. Ukraine bans Gorbachev for backing Crimea's seizure

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. ACCAEducation and Training 2020 - Giving Young People the Workplace Skills They Need
  2. EPSUTrade Unions Back New Undeclared Work Platform
  3. European Healthy Lifestyle AllianceCould targeting children’s fitness boost academic performance?
  4. World VisionDeclares the World Humanitarian Summit a Positive Step in a Longer Journey to Ending Need
  5. EJCPresident Dr. Moshe Kantor on Brexit and the Jewish Question
  6. Swedish EnterprisesNew rules for posted workers - Better Protection or the End of Posting ?
  7. World VisionWhy The EU Needs to Put Children at the Centre of Emergencies - In Their Words
  8. ACCASustainability Reporting in Danger of Losing Its Momentum Says ACCA and CDSB
  9. Dialogue PlatformDiversity as Heritage of Humanity! Join the “Colors of the World“ Show at the EP
  10. Centre Maurits CoppietersNew Responses to the Basque Peace Process? MEP Juaristi on Stateless Challenges Conference
  11. European Healthy Lifestyle AllianceImproving Cardiovascular Health Begins by Closing the Gap in Sex Disparities
  12. IPHRBrussels Talks to Take Stock of Human Rights in Turkmenistan

Latest News

  1. Juncker agrees to visit Russia in June
  2. Pro-Brexit Tories predict Cameron leadership challenge
  3. Merkel and Hollande pledge unity at Verdun ceremony
  4. Russia mocks ex-Nato chief's new Kiev job
  5. Poland, migration and environment on the agenda THIS WEEK
  6. Does Italy need €14bn of EU budget waivers?
  7. More than 700 migrants feared dead in Mediterranean
  8. EU to scrutinise environmental action