Bitter Macron ally furious as Switzerland 'turns its back on Europe' with £6.5bn snub


    Mr Beaune, France’s Minister for European Affairs, was speaking after the Swiss government yesterday confirmed its decision to invest £6.5billion in 36 F-35a combat aircraft and five Patriot surface-to-air missile systems. In doing so, Switzerland opted against the French Dassault’s Rafale, Boeing’s F/A 18 Super Hornet, and Airbus’s Eurofighter Typhoon.

    Mr Beaune, speaking days after Switzerland dumped France out of the European Championships after a penalty shootout, said: “Switzerland has decidedly made the choice to turn its back on Europe.”

    Minister Florence Parly, France’s Armed Forces minister, also took a swipe at Switzerland in a press release issued shortly after the decision was announced.

    Mrs Parly said she took “note of these sovereign decisions which reflect a choice in favour of non-European equipment”.

    She pointedly emphasised “her full confidence in the quality of the equipment offered by the French industry”.

    Explaining the decision, the Swiss Government explained in a statement: “The Federal Council is convinced that they are best suited to protect the Swiss population against air threats in the future.

    “In terms of efficiency, the F-35A obtains the best result thanks to its significant technological advance over the other candidates.”

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    The decision drew instant criticism from anti-armaments campaigners and left-wing parties who will now launch a campaign for a referendum on the issue.

    Priska Seiler Graf, a member of parliament for the left-of-centre Social Democrats (SP) said: “The decision is simply incomprehensible.
    “It’s not just about buying them, but the upkeep and operating costs.

    “We should seek a European solution – we don’t want to be dependent on the United States.”

    Analysts have interpreted the decision to snub both the European fighter jet candidates and surface-to-air missile offering as a Swiss rebuff to the European Union in a time of strained relations between Bern and Brussels after the collapse of talks over a new agreement governing trade and other matters earlier this year.

    However, the Swiss government risks antagonise the 49.8 percent of voters who opposed funding last year.

    Anti-arms campaigners say Switzerland, which last fought a foreign war more than 200 years ago, has no need for cutting-edge fighter jets.

    Advocates argue said Switzerland must be able to protect itself without relying on others.

    Jonas Kampus, political secretary of the Group for a Switzerland without an Army, was confident of victory in a referendum against the F-35As.

    He predicted the Swiss government “can expect a heavy defeat in the vote.

    He added: “The follow-up polls in September (2020) showed a clear rejection of the F-35 among the voting population.”

    Green Party politician Marionna Schlatter added: “The people don’t want a Ferrari in the air.”

    (Additional reporting by Maria Ortega)


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