Rasmussen: ‘Switzerland has made an enormous investment in NATO’s partnership programs’

Switzerland and NATO: Partners in Security

From Anders Fogh Rasmussen, NATO:  I am very pleased to say that one partnership that has been steadily strengthening is NATO’s partnership with Switzerland. 

This country knows that, although you may be non-aligned, you cannot afford to stay on the sidelines.  You understand that security today must be cooperative security. And you have backed up that understanding with active engagement.

You have made many concrete and important contributions to NATO-led operations.  For example, today, over 200 Swiss personnel are deployed with our mission to support the development of a peaceful, stable and multi-ethnic Kosovo.  I want to use this opportunity to thank them, as well as the Swiss authorities, for their commitment to our Kosovo mission. They have helped keep the peace at the heart of Europe. 

Your armed forces have also benefited from these deployments, and from working shoulder-to-shoulder with NATO and other partner forces.  They have been an important driver behind your force modernisation.  They have helped you to adopt NATO standards and procedures which facilitate greater cooperation with your neighbours.  And they have given you a voice at the table when political and military decisions about these operations are made.

But our partnership goes much further, and deeper, than operations.  Over the years, your country has developed enormous credibility and trust – both among NATO Allies and among our other partners.  With your soft-power diplomacy and your mediation skills, you have become a unique and essential contributor to our cooperative security.

Your country has a long and proud history as a champion of international norms and laws.  Over the past few decades, the United Nations, the Council of Europe, and the Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe have been major vehicles for you to advance that agenda.  But over the past fifteen years, your partnership with NATO has also helped.  And the reason is simple.

It is because Switzerland and NATO share the same values – freedom, democracy, and respect for human rights.  We both understand the importance of defending and promoting these values in an uncertain world.  And we both understand that true democracies will always be more stable, and will improve the security of all our nations.

Because of these shared values, Switzerland has made an enormous investment in NATO’s partnership programmes.  You have provided trainers in defence reform, military training and education, and building democratic institutions.  Your experts work alongside those of NATO to build more transparent and democratic security institutions. And I want to thank you for that.

Recently, Switzerland has expressed an interest in broadening its political dialogue and practical cooperation with NATO to include issues such as cyber-security and countering proliferation.  We welcome this interest.  And look forward to working more closely with you on these issues in the future.  They are a further demonstration of your country’s understanding of our evolving security environment, and the merits of your partnership with NATO.

Excerpt from speech ("Switzerland and NATO: Partners in Security") by NATO Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen at the Churchill Symposium in Zürich.  (photo: NATO)

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