German Chancellor Olaf Scholz on Tuesday said he hoped Bern would drop its opposition to requests to send Swiss-made weapons to Ukraine to refill depleted stocks.
“We know that Ukraine needs support with weapons and munitions and therefore there have been several requests from Germany,” Scholz said in a press conference alongside his Swiss counterpart Alain Berset.
“We have acknowledged the decisions taken so far and are following the very lively debate in Switzerland closely and hope that something happens there,” the chancellor said.
Despite pressure from Kyiv and its allies, Switzerland has so far refused to allow countries that hold Swiss-made weaponry to re-export it to the war-torn country.
To date, it has rejected explicit requests from Germany, Spain and Denmark, pointing to its War Material Act, which bars all re-export if the recipient country is in an international armed conflict.
Several initiatives are underway in the Bern assembly towards relaxing the rules to make it possible for Swiss-made weaponry to be transferred by third countries to Ukraine.
The process towards a final decision, with debates between parliament and the government, followed by a probable referendum under Switzerland's direct democracy system, is likely to take months.
“You cannot ask us to break our own laws” to allow weapons exports, said Berset, who currently holds Switzerland's rotating one-year presidency, adding that the rules were “clear.”
There was however a “serious debate” in Switzerland around re-export, Berset, who has previously voiced his opposition to supplying weapons, said at the press conference.
The traditionally neutral country also had a “special role” to uphold as the seat of a number of international organisations, he said.