Between neutrality and solidarity : Swiss good offices in Afghanistan from 1979 to 1992
[S.l] : [s.n.], 2021
314 p. : photogr., graph., maps
Doctorate in philosophy in history, St. Antony's College, University of Oxford, 2021.
Following the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan in December of 1979, the Swiss government initially concluded that as a neutral and unaffected country, Switzerland had no role to play in the crisis. However, not only did Switzerland begin to deliver humanitarian aid to the region in 1979, between 1982 and 1986, Switzerland also agreed to extend a protective power mandate to Soviet prisoners of war (POWs) on behalf on the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC). In exchange for transferring these POWs to Switzerland for their internment, it was hoped that the ICRC would regain access to Afghanistan, from where it had been expelled in 1980. Finally, between 1990 and 1992, following the retreat of the Soviet Union from Afghanistan, the Swiss government accepted a request to mediate between a moderate faction of the Afghan resistance - commonly known as the mujahideen - and the Soviet-installed Afghan regime, both of which had remained at war after the Soviet retreat. This thesis asks, what the driving forces were behind this gradual evolution of policy and what this tells us about Switzerland's role as a small neutral state during the last decade of the Cold War. It argues that between 1979 and 1992, the Swiss authorities gradually began to hope that their good offices might make a difference in the Afghan crisis. Moreover, they began to hope that this in turn could help tackled two underlying dilemmas in Swiss Cold War foreign policy: the predicament of diplomatic isolation that was inherent in permanent neutrality, and the resulting desire to compensate for this predicament by demonstrating solidarity vis-à-vis major development of international politics.
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