Conference on Ukraine in Switzerland: 100 of 160 Invited Countries Say No

Instead of going to the conference in Switzerland, the Turkish Foreign Minister will participate as a “guest of honor” at the BRICS ministerial meeting in Russia

Dmitrij Peskov

The front line of participants in the so-called “high-level conference on peace in Ukraine,” to be held June 15-16 in Bürgenstock, Switzerland, is crumbling. Organizers acknowledged that of the more than 160 countries invited, fewer than 70 nations around the world had “tentatively confirmed” attendance.

The last to say “no” was Turkey, which announced through its diplomatic mission in Bern a few days before the event that the Turkish government “has not yet decided whether or not to participate in the conference.” Switzerland was very disappointed because “Turkey represents a fundamental player in international efforts to resolve the conflict.”

Instead, Ankara announced that Turkish Foreign Minister Hakan Fidan will attend, as a “guest of honor,” the ministerial conference of the BRICS group of countries to be held in the Russian industrial city of Nizhny Novgorod from June 10 to 11. Russia praised Turkey’s decision to join the global group, which as of January 1, 2024, includes Brazil, Russia, India, China, South Africa, as well as Egypt, Iran, the United Arab Emirates, Saudi Arabia, and Ethiopia.

According to the Swiss press, “notably, the invitation was rejected by China,” according to which the organization of the conference “does not yet meet the needs” of Beijing and “the expectations of the international community.” Beijing condemned the organizers’ decision not to invite Russia, which announced on June 5 that Switzerland was “departing from its policy of neutrality by not inviting Russia to its next conference on resolving the Ukrainian conflict.” According to Russian presidential spokesman Dmitry Peskov, “Switzerland is no longer a neutral country.” Even within the political world of the Swiss Confederation, there is growing dissatisfaction with Bern’s stance toward Russia. The influential Swiss centrist Democratic Union (SVP) party called on the authorities to invite Russia to a peace conference on Ukraine and ensure that the event does not turn into a “one-sided propaganda and weapons conference.” In a public opinion poll organized by the Swiss agency Dialogue, 54% of those surveyed said the Bürgenstock conference would be a “useless effort.”