Although there have been times in the country’s history when this neutral stance has made it vulnerable to accept and participate in actions that were deplorable (most notably cooperating with Nazi Germany to steal/hide the money of Jews sent to concentration camps), in many instances Switzerland has served as a place of refuge from political, social and religious conflict. It is a place that dignitaries go when they want to communicate and find solutions to problems in a manner that is non-violent.
Geneva, Switzerland has been the sight of the signing of many treaties and the place where issues of international importance have been discussed and resolved. When the establishment of Switzerland as a neutral country first occurred the Swiss could not have imagined the importance of such neutrality as it would have been difficult for them to anticipate the impact of technology on globalization and how interdependent nations would become. However, the Swiss must have understood to a degree the importance of allowing parties to resolve conflicts without interference from nations or states not involved in the conflict. If there were ever an example of a nation that has been able to remain neutral during critical times in World History that country would be Switzerland. Now that we have garnered a greater understanding of neutrality in Switzerland, let us focus on Swedish neutrality and how it was established.
In order to understand Swedish neutrality, the domestic structure and foreign policy legacy of Sweden must be understood. According to a book entitled Reluctant Europeans: Norway, Sweden, and Switzerland in the Process of Integration there are two main issues that have controlled to postwar politics in Sweden. The first of these issues is the “development of a democratic, full-employment welfare state on the basis of a modernized, export-oriented industry (Gsthl & Rienner, 2002, 25).”
The second issue is associated with the search for a foreign policy scema that allowed Sweden to avoid international confrontations by steering clear of all compulsory commitments to great-power politics. “
With this understood the author further explains the Neutrality and folkhemmet the people’s home were thus the pillars of Sweden’s projection of itself into the world. ” for a long time, supranational European integration threatened the successful record of the Swedish (or Nordic) model as well as Sweden’s long-standing freedom from alliances (alliansfrihet) since the Catholic, conservative, and capitalist European Community (EC) countries pursued very different welfare policies and were members of NATO. (Gsthl & Rienner, 2002, 25)”
As was the case with Switzerland, Sweden also has a long history of neutrality. A book entitled Neutrality and State-building in Sweden explains that the policy of neutrality in Sweden was defined primarily by the Policy of 1812. The Policy of 1812 came about following the Revolutionary and Napoleonic wars in which Sweden suffered great losses; most noticeably the loss of Finland to Russia. The French revolution was characterized by a time of warfare lasting nearly 25 years. According to the author during the first 10 years of the Revolution Sweden remained neutral. however, that neutrality ended when Sweden joined the Coalition. It was also during this time in history that the philosophy of enlightenment became popular. This philosophy promoted the idea of neutrality as a way to resolve conflict.
The Policy of 1812
The Policy of 1812 was critical to the development of Sweden as a neutral state. According to Neutrality and State-building in Sweden There was nothing predictable concerning Sweden’s loss of Finland. In fact if there had been greater compromise with Russia and France the loss of Finland may not have occurred. Following the 1807 occupation of Pomerania by the French, “the alliance with Sweden lost much of its strategic value, and there was no longer any need for Sweden to ingratiate herself with the British by being stubborn against Napoleon (Malmborg 2001, pg 70).”
Indeed this policy served as a defining moment in Sweden’s history occurred in January 1812. At that time the French troops marched into Pomerania and held the Swedish forces as prisoners of war. The French troops also seized all state property.
Sweden was indeed humiliated by the treatment they received at the hands of Napoleon. The humiliation led Sweden to abandon the French system and adopt the Anglo-Russian alliance (Malmborg 2001). In addition a meeting that took place in August 1812 ended with Alexander I agreeing that Sweden would not seek retribution (Malmborg 2001). The author explains that the policy of 1812 gave Alexander the opportunity battle Napoleon and as reimbursement Russia supported Sweden in the attainment of Norway (Malmborg 2001).
This policy was important because even though Sweden had lost Finland, this policy guaranteed that Sweden would gain Norway. Ultimately Sweden was engaged in some armed activities during the Napoleonic Wars. However, the policy of 1812 acted as a catalyst and the country of Sweden has not engaged in war since this time. However, the nation has participated in many peace keeping missions throughout the world as a condition of its neutrality.
The implementation of Neutrality in Sweden
An article entitled “Sweden: A Case Study in Neutrality” explains that Sweden’s policy of neutrality has been facilitated in different ways throughout the nations’s history. For instance the article explains that during the first World War, Sweden’s neutral stance had as a foundation the balance of power. The German army was engaged on various fronts and the Swedish army was strong and prepared. During the Second World War, the size of Sweden’s army had been diminished tremendously. The article explains that neutrality in Sweden during the aforementioned wars were somewhat different than the neutrality associated with Switzerland during the same time period.
Now that we have garnered a greater understanding of Swedish neutrality during the World War I and World War II, let’s explore the nation’s neutrality following the Cold War. An article entitled “Swedish Military Neutrality in the Post-Cold War:’Old Habits Die Hard’ following the Cold War the balance of power in Europe and the neutrality of Sweden were subject to tremendous changes. The changes that occurred within the context of neutrality were associated with the desertion of concern with the credibility aspect of the Swedens neutrality stance. The article further explains that This dictated the end regarding the pursuit of a policy of neutrality and the Exercise of political neutrality in the ambit of national foreign and securitypolicies. Commitment to neutrality was narrowed down to its military core and came to be solely understood as non-involvement in wars and non- participation in military pacts. More specifically, under the so-called ‘1992 Formula’,as promoted by Carl Bildt’s government, the adoption of a neutral posture in the case of war ceased to be considered an inevitability only to become a security policy option among others (Ferreira-Pereira, 2005).”
This aspect of the research demonstrates that neutrality can evolve and change over time to meet the needs of the neutral country. As the international climate changes, there are instances when neutrality policies also have to adjust to meet current needs.
Major Differences and Similarities between the two countries and neutrality
In the past one of the primary differences between Switzerland and Sweden in terms of neutrality was membership in the United Nations. Until 2002 Switzerland was not a part of the United Nations while Sweden joined the United Nations in 1946. Prior to 2002 Switzerland had avoided becoming a member of the United Nations for several reasons. According Karsh unlike Sweden
Switzerland preferred to remain outside the UN. Switzerland’s line of thought on the issue ran approximately as follows: If the organization cannot guarantee its members the necessary degree of security by means of the system of collective security it has set up, and if membership may lead to a confrontation, however formal, between the obligations of active political participation and the duties of neutrality, there is not much sense in belonging to the UN, especially since it is possible to take part in the activities of its specialised agencies without being a full member. And indeed, the Swiss refusal to join the United Nations has not prevented it from participating in the organisation’s a-political activities in those spheres which concern Switzerland’s immediate economic and humanitarian interests. Moreover, Geneva has even become the second head- quarters of the World Organisation after New York. (Karsh, 60)”
Although Switzerland did not become a member of the United nations until 2002, it has long been well respected in the international community as a country with a strong commitment to neutrality. In fact, Geneva, Switzerland is often the place where dignitaries from feuding countries come to meet in hopes of settling differences. As such Switzerland’s neutrality has played an important role in international affairs.
Another difference between neutrality in Sweden and neutrality in Switzerland is the length of time the countries have been neutral. The research asserts that Switzerland has been neutral for far longer than Sweden, with Swiss neutrality dating back to the fifteenth century. On the other hand Swedish neutrality…