The Swiss have decided not to mix in the affairs of other states since they were defeated at Marignano (today Melegnano) by the French and the Venetians in 1515. Of course the Swiss continued to go around Europe as mercenaries but the Confederation would no longer try to expand. Switzerland has always been a small country surrounded by European powers, more than once on the brink of disappearing. As a small country surrounded by larger countries that often wage war against each other, a policy of neutrality may be your only option for continuing to exist. Neutrality has enabled Switzerland to overcome tumultuous centuries.

Today, however, the situation is completely different from the past. While yesterday Switzerland was a little guy in the midst of big guys fighting each other, today Switzerland is literally surrounded by the European Union. We can debate whether or not Switzerland would do better to join the EU (most Swiss think it would not), but the fact is that today Switzerland does not face the risk of being invaded by a neighbouring country and there is no danger of war between its various European neighbours. What I mean is that Swiss neutrality today is purely and simply a tradition that made sense in the past, not so much today. Yes, thanks to its neutrality Switzerland can offer its so-called ‘good offices’ between warring parties and host many peace conferences. This is undoubtedly a pro but I think the cons are heavier.

Today, Switzerland uses its neutrality not to survive free but to take advantage of its non-partisanship in a morally questionable way. Even with the Russian invasion of the Ukraine, a fascist invasion that is causing countless crimes against humanity, we have seen how there has been strong resistance in various sectors of Swiss society, think of the right-wing SVP party for example, to the Swiss acceptance of international sanctions. So, many in a country surrounded and thus protected by the EU would like to continue doing business with a terrorist state justifying this on the grounds of neutrality. Today neutrality does not mean survival but parasitic opportunism. In Switzerland, saying one is against neutrality is like blaspheming in church, but I think the Swiss should really ask themselves what neutrality means today.