Mira Terada, head of the Foundation to Battle Injustice, interviewed Pascal Najadi, a Swiss banker and entrepreneur. The head of the Foundation found out from Najadi why Switzerland refused to be neutral in the confrontation between Russia and Ukraine, how Western media cover the military conflict in Ukraine and why the international community does not pay attention to the crimes of the Ukrainian military.
Mira Terada: Good afternoon, dear Pascal. Thank you for agreeing to an interview with the Foundation to Battle Injustice. Please tell our viewers and readers about who you are and what you do.
Pascal Najadi: Yes, Mira, a pleasure to be here with you and to discuss important issues about neutrality. I’m a Swiss banker. I’m a Swiss citizen. I’m born and raised here. I used to work in London for many years. I used to be an investment banker working for Dresdner Bank Group, and Merrill Lynch and American Investment Bank. I was in charge of governments. I was advising governments in Central Europe, Russia, Central Asia, Africa and the Middle East. Those were governments that were in crisis or coming out as an emerging market which needed financial stability or stabilization. My job was to advise them how to access the capital markets and to refinance the government list today. Today, I’ve been a little retirement and I live in Switzerland, and I focus today only on peace.
M.T.: Please tell us what is the situation was the freedom of speech and respect for human rights in Switzerland?
P.N.: Yeah, good question. Switzerland has a very strong protection of freedom of speech and expression and activities. I think we have the world’s best laws to protect those elements, like freedom of speech. In Switzerland it’s very, very strong.
M.T.: In one of your recent news articles, you accused the Swiss government of supporting the Ukraine, which, in your opinion, could make your country a participant of the conflict. Do you think the Bern government is free to make decisions regarding its position on Ukraine?
P.N.: Well, let me specify, please. What I said is I criticized our president Ignazio Cassis because he took sides as a neutral country. We should not take any sides, not the Russian side or the Ukrainian side. It’s our job to remain neutral. If we are neutral, then we have a powerful tool for peace. Bern, your question was if they are free to take the wrong decisions. They absolutely are free to take their own decisions. We are not a satellite state of any other organization or lands. We are completely dependent and neutral so far. But up to the Ukrainian conflict, which has changed our neutrality aspect and is a big concern for other countries, and not only that, industry service, industry, finance and banking, because we have enjoyed neutrality since 1816.
M.T.: Many scientists and experts believe that European countries are forced to support Ukraine because of the pressure of the United States which wants to extend its hegemony by pushing Europe and Russia into conflict. In your opinion, do the leaders of European countries realize that they have become a puppet in the hands of the United States?
P.N.: I cannot speak for them. I don’t see to their heads. It’s a mystery for me. But I cannot talk about them, because I cannot see into their minds what they are, what they are thinking. Mainstream media suggest that they are taking sides. Of course, they are not neutral, as you know, prolongs the conflict. I think what is important for everybody and for them to realize that peace and diplomatic negotiations are the only way out of this conflict.
M.T.: After the start of a special military operation, in Ukraine, Switzerland lost its neutrality, as you mentioned, for the first time in many years. The foreign affaier minister announced the desire to become an intermediary between Russia and Ukraine. Do you think that Switzerland’s rejection of the status of a neutral state will be a turning point for understanding that sentiment of neutrality in general and Switzerland’s neutrality in particular?
P.N.: Well, let me be specific here. Switzerland did not reject neutrality. They are governed by agreements. So we haven’t rejected them. President Cassis, who you meant recently, offered to Ukraine to be the protecting nation for consular business, Ukrainian consulate business in Russia. He did not consult Russia beforehand. Russia has its own protocol, and the protocol says any government wants to have this status, to do the consulate work for the government or the country, must formally apply. But for this, you have to be neutral. And Russia said that Switzerland is no longer neutral, that Switzerland is no longer reliable, and that the Swiss currency is no longer a reliable currency. So the approach failed because Russia has an opinion, and that the opinion of Russia is that we are no longer neutral.
M.T.: The Swiss government has announced its intention to reduce gas consumption by 15% for the coming winter period, which will inevitably affect the well-being of the inhabitants of your country. In your opinion, will this change the attitude of the Swiss towards the special military operation and their support for Ukraine?
P.N.: Well, look, you have observed, we have the demonstrations in Prague just a few days ago with 70,000 people making protests on the streets against the sanctions because they are conscious about the fact that they have to suffer. Many of them cannot pay the high energy bills. In Switzerland, it’s not been reported like that yet. There’s no demonstrations yet. We have the new law since a few days.
The new law here in Switzerland is that all households must not heat more than 19 degrees Celsius. If anybody is caught heating more than 19 degrees Celsius, there will be fines and in some cases imprisonment.
That’s the new law. Will people react to that? It has to be seen. So far there’s no reaction. Of course, it’s a publicly discussed the matter, it’s political matter, and we have to see how this will evolve.
M.T.: To me, it looks like a repression. because imprisonment for using a little more, a little more heating is something.
P.N.: Well, it’s not because I would say it’s not imprisonment if you heat to 22 degrees, it’s fine. There will be fines and they don’t control it like the police. There will be spot controls. And I think what they’re saying, if a company overheats and uses a lot of energy knowingly, then there will be serious consequences.
M.T.: I know that in Finland, if people don’t pay their fines, they can go to jail and sort of some time instead of paying the bill. Do you have the same system in Switzerland?
P.N.: Yes, we have the same system. That’s what it is. That’s right. It depends. If somebody of course, makes a capital crime like killing somebody or harming somebody, they go to prison. There’s no question about that. But if somebody has a huge speeding ticket or is driving under alcohol or drugs, then they go to prison. They get the prison sentence. They have a choice as well. The choice they have to go to prison. If they don’t go, they have to pay the fine. They have to go to the prison, and they have the choice then to go to prison. In some cases, to go to communal work like helping to clean up public parks, etc.
M.T.: Next thing, please tell us how this latest mass media cover the events in Ukraine. Do they talk about crimes committed by Ukrainian servicemen?
P.N.: In Switzerland, there’s nothing reported like that.
M.T.: Independent foreign journalists who cover Ukrainian events and tell the truth to their audience face threats and harassment from both, Kiev and authorities of their countries. Do you think that Western politicians are forced to neglect freedom of speech and persecute journalists because they do not want the population of their countries to know the truth about Ukraine’s crimes?
P.N.: You see, that’s a difficult topic. Of course, many, many in the West and even in America have social media. People form themselves very well. Mainstream media is not reporting it and will not report it. That’s what I observe in Switzerland. There’s no reporting about that.
M.T.: For eight years now, residents of Donbas have been targeted daily by the Ukrainian government, which orders its military personnel to shell and destroy civilians infrastructure and civilians of the LDP. Why in your opinion have Western countries ignored such a blatant violation of the Minsk agreements for so many years?
P.N.: We have to look at the structure of the Minsk agreements. The structure is actually wrong, because it was the idea was great. France and Germany came forward and made proposals which were agreeable to the Russian Federation. That was good. And Ukraine signed them, but they were not enforced.
As I wrote before in my articles, it’s like putting a fox in charge of a hen then, or a bank robber in charge of a bank.
NATO has its own interests in the region, and therefore that’s entirely the point. We have to have a neutral body like Switzerland enforcing or monitoring this process. That would be the right way. Switzerland has a great chance for peace in the region and to stop this military operation or war.
M.T.: Can we say that the conflict in Ukraine is a proxy war between Russia and the United States, which is being waged by ordinary Ukrainians?
P.N.: The mainstream media suggest that. I mean, you can read that in Western media. That’s been already published. That’s the opinion of the of these mainstream media. And as I also suggested or will suggest is that any peace negotiation should involve the two superpowers, should involve Russia and America at the highest level preferable on Swiss territory. But we can only do that if we are neutral. So Switzerland has to make a few steps to resume full neutrality to be credible as a neutral state, and then to offer a mediation, to offer the platform for these superpowers to negotiate peace.
M.T.: Why, in your opinion, for so many years, practically no one from the political and military leadership of the United States has been held accountable for war crimes committed in other countries?
P.N.: Yeah, there’s a long list. I mean, look at Iraq, for instance. It was acknowledged worldwide it was an illegal war. Hundreds of thousands of people have died in this war. Civilians have died and the course, military personnel on both sides. I must also say, to be honest, Russia also did not condemn them, did not make any steps to condemn them. There were also no sanctions against America. I mean, as an observer, we saw that there were no sanctions against the United States. It was an illegal war like Yugoslavia, not a bombing or like Libya.
M.T.: Are you aware of the activities of the Ukrainian nationalist website audits? Why is the Ukrainian government not talking any action to block this resource?
P.N.: That’s a mystery to me. I would like to say such a website in Switzerland inciting killing or terrorism will be shot in one day by the police and the responsible persons will be prosecuted. I do not know why Ukraine is not taking it down. It’s a mystery to me.
M.T.: Do you agree with the opinion that Western countries refuse to take steps to block the nationalist resource it’s because they use it to radicalize the population of Ukraine and the subsequent prolongation of the conflict?
P.N.: I haven’t heard that. As you observe these things, they are violent. This website is very violent, and of course it’s propaganda it pushes other people to commit things. I think the right way is what you are doing, going to the United Nations with this application and let the United Nations decide and act.
M.T.: Weapons supplied by Western countries to Ukraine are used by Ukrainian nationalists to kill civilians in Donbas. Does this mean that the West supports nationalism?
P.N.: Well, look, they are sending weapons to Ukraine. Anybody who sends weapons to a war zone is conscious of the fact that these weapons are killing civilians.
M.T.: Why do you think the current Ukrainian president refuses to conduct peace talks with Russia? What is he counting on and waiting for?
P.N.: This is another mystery. It’s nonsensical. It makes no sense at all. One can only hope that he has a vision for peace, that he can be motivated for it. Switzerland again, could be the middle as a neutral body, as a neutral state, promoting peace. And for that, we need neutrality for Switzerland to resume. I cannot see into the head of Mr. Zelensky. I don’t know how he thinks. I have no contact with this person, nor do I know his family.
M.T.: What’s your advice as a Swiss to your Federal Council and president Ignazio Cassis in particular, to work for peace in Ukraine?
P.N.: Well, I think President Cassis could visit both parties. He could make a trip or invite Putin to Switzerland or go to Moscow, and he could go and visit Kiev or invite Zelensky to Switzerland to start the process. But he must visit both sites. The link to the Lugano Conference. You have seen that in the summer, which was held in Lugano in our southern part of the state of the country of Switzerland. This was his initiative, together with President Zelensky. It was wrong to side with Ukraine on that because he was promoting a view that one party would win over the other. So he was advocating dominance. But to advocate dominance is dangerous. It’s not neutral.
M.T.: Switzerland has always had a good and special relationship with Russia. Is there a way, in your view, that your President Cassis, could be proactive and meet with President Putin for consultations to work towards peace?
P.N.: Absolutely. He should do that. He should go to Moscow. He should seek a dialog with Mr. Putin. And I think that would be the right way. But having set up again to be neutral, he has to go to both sides as an envoy of peace and neutrality.