Military service – from home
It was an unconventional start to training for 5,000 of the 12,000 or so recruits who joined the Swiss Armed Forces at the end of January, as the Covid-19 pandemic meant they were confined to their homes for the first few weeks. Instead of courtyard drills and long marches in the wind and rain, the recruits did e-learning and wore in their new combat boots from the comfort of their sitting room. However, this gentle introduction was eventually followed by the inevitable summons to barracks.
The Swiss Air Force is now open all hours
Since the beginning of the year, the Swiss Air Force’s air policing activities over Switzerland now extend to all hours and days of the week, with two armed combat aircraft ready for operations round the clock. Nothing unusual about that, you may think. However, until 2015 fighter jets used to be only on stand-by on workdays during office hours. This attracted a lot of public ridicule at the time. Since then, air policing capability has been gradually expanded.
No exit from “Exit” for the Swiss Abroad
The Swiss organisation for physician-assisted suicide, Exit, has decided not to exclude Swiss members domiciled abroad and will continue to make its services available to the “Fifth Switzerland”. Exit announced in summer 2020 that, in future, it would only be open to members who lived in Switzerland and would delete existing members who moved abroad. It eventually backtracked after members voiced their opposition. For further information please see: SwissCommunity News
The Federal Council wants to privatise PostFinance
The Federal Council wishes to privatise Swiss Post subsidiary PostFinance completely, so as to allow PostFinance to enter into the mortgage business. The planned privatisation is a contentious issue. Opponents fear it would weaken Swiss Post. It is thanks in part to PostFinance’s profits that Swiss Post is able to fund its nationwide service in the first place.
The FDFA wants to enhance its embassy network
Switzerland wants to strengthen its representations abroad. According to Swiss radio (SRF) sources, the Federal Department of Foreign Affairs (FDFA) is planning to relocate some 35 Berne-based positions abroad in order to bolster its smaller offices around the world. The Federal Council believes that the FDFA’s close-knit foreign network has proved particularly valuable during the Covid-19 pandemic. However, some Swiss representations are “understaffed”, it wrote in its latest foreign policy report.
PICTURE: As this picture taken in Colombier shows, young recruits normally tend to stand still or run around a lot at Swiss military training school. However, this year saw 5,000 recruits begin their military education at home in front of their computer screen. Archive photo: SDA-Keystone (2013)