For those who don’t know it yet or haven’t realised it, we are on the brink of nuclear war. It is no longer a question of blaming, but of acting lucidly and fighting for peace in order to obtain a cease-fire in Ukraine. We cannot rest on our laurels right now because this may be our last chance.
It is embarrassing enough that Russian Minister of Foreign Affairs Sergei Lavrov asked Swiss President Ignazio Cassis in New York at the UN for Switzerland to return to neutrality. One cannot blame the great diplomat Lavrov for this direct sentence. He is a true politician, probably the best of all those currently active on the international scene.
It is a good thing that President Cassis met him. It is also good that the two men allowed themselves to be photographed together. It is better to talk than to ignore each other; for lack of communication often leads to serious misunderstandings, which usually cannot be corrected afterwards.
The situation in Ukraine has now reached a new dimension with the referenda. It is also clear that — whether it is right or wrong — the new territories of the Donbass will fully belong to the Russian Federation as of 30 September, at least from the Russian point of view. And this is precisely where the problem lies. It is imperative that we now analyse both points of view without taking sides and that we do so with the utmost caution and tact.
Peace must now prevail over war at all costs. But it can only happen if the two main players — the US and Russia — come to the negotiating table. Why not in Geneva? Switzerland could have played a useful intermediary role. Alas, in just seven months, Cassis has managed to ruin our neutrality, which has kept us at peace since 1815. We are therefore no longer credible as a peace envoy, because only a country that is unquestionably neutral can play this role, and we are no longer so, at least not in the eyes of Russia. Nor in the eyes of the US, for that matter, since US President Joe Biden welcomed the fact that we had abandoned our neutrality. This is very serious because we need both main parties at the negotiating table in Geneva.
Why not take Lavrov at his word? He’s holding out an open door, suggesting that he could accept Swiss mediation if Switzerland became neutral again. So, it is high time that President Cassis changed course and started thinking and acting like a diplomat.
Or our seven wise men could remove him from foreign affairs and entrust him with another department, thus giving a strong signal of a return to neutrality, which would put our country back in the centre of the game.
The Swiss Confederation is not the EU, it is not a member of the EU, and in order to be able to organise peace negotiations, a strong gesture could be to abandon the EU sanctions against Russia. Then we will again be a reliable broker for peace.
The arena for peace is ready in Switzerland, it is now up to us to act concretely and resolutely with a cool head. We must now fight for peace, and I believe we can succeed. It is hope that dies last. Let us hope that peace does not die with it. We cannot warn enough, it is urgent to act before it is too late.
* Pascal Najadi is an international investment banker and was a Director of Dresdner Bank Group in London for the Central Asia, Russia, Africa, Central Europe, and Middle East territories. He is interested in international affairs and citizen debates in Switzerland. He was also the producer of the film ‘Grounding’ on the bankruptcy of Swissair. He is currently living in Switzerland in retirement.