Switzerland Sets a No-Fly Zone for Ukraine Peace Conference

Switzerland Sets a No-Fly Zone for Ukraine Peace Conference
Switzerland Sets a No-Fly Zone for Ukraine Peace Conference

Switzerland has invited over 160 delegations “at the request of Ukraine”, including countries from the G7, G20, BRICS and numerous other countries as well as the EU, UN, OSCE, the Council of Europe and representatives of the Vatican and the Patriarch of Constantinople.

Originally planned in Geneva in March 2024, the peace conference for Ukraine hosted by the Swiss Federal Council will take place on June 15-16, 2024 on the Bürgenstock in central Switzerland.

The Ukraine Peace Conference high up at Lake Lucerne is the most sensitive event ever to be held in Switzerland. Although there are always high-caliber conferences, such as the Biden-Putin Summit in Geneva and the WEF in Davos, this is the largest conference ever to be held on Swiss soil.

The conference will focus on nuclear safety, food safety, freedom of navigation and humanitarian aspects. This was announced by the Federal Department of Foreign Affairs (FDFA), according to the Swiss television channel SRF.

According to the FDFA, Switzerland has invited over 160 delegations “at the request of Ukraine”, including countries from the G7, G20, BRICS and numerous other countries as well as the EU, UN, OSCE, the Council of Europe and representatives of the Vatican and the Patriarch of Constantinople.

According to the latest information from the FDFA, 80 countries have announced their participation so far, “most of them at head of state or government level”. Half of them come from Europe, the other half from the rest of the world.

Commitments have been received from Volodimir Zelenski, Ursula von der Leyen, Chancellor Scholz, PM Giorgia Meloni, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, Canada, Spanish Prime Minister Sanchez, President Emmanuel Macro.

India, a major newly industrializing country, has confirmed its participation after some delay.

It remains to be seen whether US President Joe Biden will be attending.

The security precautions are enormous. Nidwalden is one of the smallest cantons in Switzerland and has a police force of just 80 officers.

The security of the heads of state from all over the world will be ensured by up to 4,000 members of the armed forces and the police from all over Switzerland.

Most of the guests will land in Zurich-Kloten and be transported to the Bürgenstock by car convoy and helicopter. The Swiss Armed Forces are building a temporary helicopter landing pad on the Bürgenstock especially for this purpose.

For the peace conference, airspace in Nidwalden/Lake Lucerne will be closed from Thursday 13 June from 08:00 until Monday 17 June 2024 within a radius of 46.5 km centered on the Bürgenstock.

At the Asia Security Summit in Singapore this weekend, Ukrainian President Volodimir Zelensky called for Asian countries to take part in the peace conference in Switzerland.

Representatives from 106 countries have confirmed their participation, he said on Sunday at the “Shangri-La Dialogue” forum.

The aim of this conference of meeting heads of state and government is to develop a “common understanding of a possible path to a “just and lasting peace in Ukraine”. The FDFA writes on its website.

The meeting will discuss ways to achieve a just and lasting peace for Ukraine in accordance with the UN Charter and international law, said Ukrainian President Volodimir Zelensky in a video on X.

All invited states had demonstrated their commitment to these principles. The rules of the UN Charter protected all nations from attacks and violence.

However, Zelensky accused Russia of attempting to disrupt the organization and success of the summit, reports SFR.

At a meeting with US Defence Secretary Lloyd Austin in Singapore, Zelensky pointed out that Russia’s attempts to disrupt the summit could be thwarted if the respective heads of state from the participating countries also attended the summit. Selenski thus indirectly criticised the fact that US President Joe Biden has not yet made a commitment to the summit in Switzerland.

There is also information that some countries have already begun to help Russia with its attempts to disrupt the summit, Zelensky said on Sunday.

He accused China, for example, of attempting to interfere. China is working to “ensure that states do not take part in the peace summit”, said Zelensky. The country had initially cancelled the conference on the Bürgenstock last Friday. The main reason for this is that Russia will not be taking part in the conference on the Bürgenstock at present.

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky accused China of helping Russia to prevent the peace summit from taking place in Switzerland on 15-16 June.

“Russia, which exploits Chinese influence in the region and also uses Chinese diplomats, is doing everything to sabotage the peace summit,” Zelensky said at a press conference following his speech at the Shangri-La Dialogue in Singapore.

Zelensky said Ukraine had evidence that Beijing was supporting the Russian war effort, even though President Xi Jinping had promised him a year ago that Beijing would not interfere.

Almost six million people have left Ukraine since the start of the war and sought refuge in European countries, with over 6.4 million refugees worldwide (as of 25 May 2024). This was reported by the UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR). The number of internally displaced persons is put at 4.9 million by the Vice Prime Minister responsible for refugee issues (as of 18 November 2023).

65,616 Ukrainians have fled to Switzerland because of the war against Ukraine.
According to the Ukraine Support Tracker of the Kiel Institute for the World Economy, which compares the share of aid to Ukraine in economic output, among other things, wealthy Switzerland is only ranked 34th out of 41.

Switzerland’s refusal to deviate from its neutrality and support Kiev with weapons or ammunition has led to public debate as to whether neutrality is still appropriate.

The idyllic 150-year-old Bürgenstock Hotels complex high above Lake Lucerne “is a perfect place to hold closed conferences with high security requirements,” writes historian Evelyne Lüthi-Graf in the Neue Zürcher Zeitung.

“The hotel complex can only be reached via a winding road or by funicular railway from the lakeshore. And not far from Zurich Airport.”

The list of politicians who stayed at the Bürgenstock in the second half of the 20th century is long and includes Ben Gurion, Golda Meir, Israel’s Foreign Minister and later Prime Minister, Indian Prime Minister Pandit Nehru and his daughter Indira Gandhi, German Chancellor, Konrad Adenauer, US President Jimmy Carter.

Mobie stars such as Charlie Chaplin, Sophia Loren and Audrey Hepburn, who got married here, not only loved the Bürgenstock picture-book panorama with views of the city of Lucerne and the lake, but appreciated its unique location and the perfect ambience for the very highest level of privacy where the cows graze happily on the meadows at the back of the hotel complex and the autograph hunters are far away.

In the meantime, the hotel complex went through a long period of crisis and was bought in 2008 by Katara Hospitality, the hotel arm of the Qatari sovereign wealth fund. The new owner invested over half a billion Swiss francs in the renovation of the complex, which took almost ten years.

The peace conference is also pouring cash into the coffers of the Bürgenstock Resort, which the Qataris are rumored to be looking to sell along with their other properties in Bern and Lausanne. In normal times, the cheapest room costs a lavish CHF 1,180 per night, excluding taxes.

However, the many delegations attending the peace conference and the large number of security personnel are also causing high occupancy rates at the hotels in Lucerne, Zurich and Basel.

Since the April 1, 2024 arrival of new Managing Director, Chris Franzen, who opened the Waldorf Astoria in Lusail, Qatar, just in time for the 2023 World Cup in DOHA, the Bürgenstock Resort has now a true Qatari insider and Swiss hotelier with 10 years of Doha expertise.


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About the author

Elisabeth Lang - special to eTN

Elisabeth has been working in the international travel business and hospitality industry for decades and contributing to eTurboNews since the start of the publication in 2001. She has a worldwide network and is an international travel journalist.

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