Büchel: Mediation is part of Switzerland's DNA
24. Dezember 2014
Erschienen in: Current Concerns (E/F/D)

“Mediation is part of the essence of Switzerland – as are neutrality and direct democracy”
Interview with National Councillor Roland Büchel, SVP (Swiss People’s Party)

Current Concerns: What weight should we attach to
the year in which the OSCEwas under Swiss
Chairmanship?


National Councillor Roland Büchel: President
Didier Burkhalter played his part in an appealing
manner. He mastered the balancing act that is
inherent in this office well.

What was that balancing act?
Conflicting parties try to pull the mediator
on to their side. This lies in the nature
of things. Tact and a sure instinct were
necessary when dealing with the seriously
upset relationship between the EU/USA
on the one hand and Russia on the other.

Do you think that tact and instinct have
not always been used?

I think we have gone too far in terms of
economic boycotts. We have unnecessarily
tightened the sanction screw a few
times too often under mealy-mouthed
terms such as “prevention of transactions
for the purpose of evading the law.”

What will happen next in regard of the
OSCE?

Next year, the Serbs are at the helm of the
organization. Like Switzerland, Serbia is
neither a member of the EU or the NATO
nor of Russia’s Eurasian Economic Union.
This Chairmanship is therefore an opportunity
for Belgrade to raise its profile as a
bridge builder between the East and the
West. We do not have to feel that we must
constantly jump at this new administrations’s
throat. After Serbia it will be Germany’s
turn to preside over the OSCE.

What does this mean for Switzerland?
We will further accompany incipient
processes, but with less outlay than before.
We have to deploy our staff in other
areas now. The best diplomats, namely
those who show their backbone, should
now be assigned to negotiations with Europe.

In connection with our mediation in the
Ukraine conflict, Switzerland’s neutrality
was judged to be very positive, among
other things because it meant that we had
no “hidden agenda”. The conflict is not
resolved. In what way can Switzerland’s
room for manoeuvre continue to be effective?

We are a neutral state – in the OSCE and
outside of it. If we play the neutrality card
correctly, we can continue to play an important
role. It does not matter in what
context we render our good services. It
does matter that we do.

Will Switzerland continue to act this way?
Of course, and it will even be more effective
in its actions. The OSCE Chairmanship
might have been a hindrance. Initially
there was no certainty about whether
it would be possible to balance this task
with our neutrality. This turned out reasonably
well. As we no longer have the
chair, it is certainly not more difficult to
take this approach.

In an overall view, do you judge the presidential
year as having been positive?
Yes, our people from the Ministry of Foreign
Affairs went about these things correctly.
It‘s practically part of our DNA to
mediate in disputes. This year we have
performed our role of mediator. We will
need to do that and certainly will do that
again in future. Mediation is part of Switzerland‘
s essence as much as neutrality
and direct democracy are.

Mr Roland Büchel, Member of the National
Council, thank you for the interview.


(Interview Thomas Kaiser)

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