By Henry Samuel, Paris
Hordes of bankrupt French invade Switzerland to get their hands on their “stolen” money — such is the imaginary scenario cooked up by the Swiss military in simulations revealed over the weekend.
Carried out in August, the apparently outlandish army exercise was based on the premise of an attack by a financially stricken France split into warring regions, according to Matin Dimanche, the Lausanne-based daily.
One of these, “Saônia,” corresponding to the existing Jura region, was preparing attacks on Switzerland to retrieve money it had apparently swiped from France.
Operation “Duplex-Barbara” went as far as imagining a three-pronged invasion from points near Neufchâtel, Lausanne and Geneva, according to a map published in the Swiss newspaper.
Behind the dastardly raid was a paramilitary organisation dubbed BLD, the Dijon Free Brigade bent on grabbing back “money that Switzerland had stolen from Saônia”.
“For its credibility, the Swiss army must work (to ward against) threats of the 21st century,” Antoine Vielliard, Hauate-Savoie councillor, told Matin Dimanche.
However, Daniel Berger, captain of the Swiss armoured brigade, sought to play down the specificity of the threat.
“The exercise has strictly nothing to do with France, which we appreciate” he told the Swiss press. “It was prepared in 2012, when fiscal relations between both countries were less tense.” “French towns were cited to provide soldiers with a real scale,” he said.
Famous for its bank secrecy laws, Switzerland often comes under criticism for allowing foreign account holders to hide their wealth from tax officials at home.