SWITZERLAND: Neutrality Is Not Indifference

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In their devotion to neutrality, the canny, conservative men who govern Switzerland frequently carry noninvolvement in international politics to a point where the mountains seem to echo to the cry of hear no evil and see no evil. But the events in Hungary have stirred the Swiss like nothing has in years. Last week, casting traditional impartiality to the winds, Foreign Minister Max Petitpierre told the Swiss Parliament that in Hungary "we have witnessed and are witnessing the cold enslavement, through armed force, arrests and deportations, of a nation whose only crime is to strive for independence. There is not a Swiss worthy of the name who does not realize with horror that something is happening which is a crime against humanity.

"The Hungarian uprising proves that Communism is an unnatural kind of government, incapable of keeping its promises politically or economically, a regime that cannot exist by itself but that has to rely on the presence or intervention of a foreign army."

None of this, concluded Petitpierre, meant that Switzerland should abandon the absolute neutrality which has even led her to reject membership in the U.N. "But," he emphasized, "neutrality as we practice it is not tantamount to moral neutrality, neutralism or indifference."

Every man in Parliament, save three Communists, rose to give Petitpierre a standing ovation. Said one government official exultantly: "Now everybody knows where we stand."

The Swiss Ski Association formally asked the Soviet Winter Sports Federation to keep its members away from Swiss ski competitions. The presence of Russian athletes, explained the Swiss, might well provoke "unpleasant demonstrations" among the Swiss themselves, and among the 10,000 Hungarian refugees to whom Switzerland has offered asylum.