Sunday, July 29, 2012

A Swiss tradition - the August 1st speech

Now that I am an "Auslandsschweizer" (Swiss abroad) yet again, I feel even more patriotic when 1.August comes around. During our expatriation to Argentina - years ago and feeling slightly homesick -  I insited that my newlywed hubby accompany me to the 1. August party held at the Swiss Club of Buenos Aires. I was the only person to speak Swiss German, the other guests turned out to be second or third generation Swiss with very little knowledge of German or Swiss German. However, it was there that I discovered that the President of the Confederation holds a speech specifcally for the Swiss abroad that is broadcasted thoughout all the Swiss Clubs across the globe. It actually reminded me a bit of the Queen's Christmas speech.

You will find below this year's message of greeting from President of the Confederation Eveline Widmer-Schlumpf to the Swiss Abroad.

Dear Swiss Abroad,

Our National Day on the first of August unites us as Swiss citizens wherever we are. At this very moment, Swiss flags are flying north and south and around the world; if not in the wind, then in our hearts and minds. I hope you have a very enjoyable first of August! “Vive la Suisse”!

The ties that bind us will also remain strong tomorrow and in the future. The world of the internet, e-government and e-voting are bringing us ever closer together. We are online every day, and that is a good thing.

The Federal Council and parliament would like to establish further links in the form of a new Swiss Abroad Act and an Act on the Presence of Swiss Education Abroad, formerly known as the Education Act for the Swiss Abroad. Admittedly, these are just words, and words are by no means enough. However, they form a strong safety net for the seven-hundred-thousand Swiss citizens living abroad. That is something we can rely on, and that is what really counts!

What do we mean by „We Swiss citizens‟? Since last year‟s federal elections, you Swiss Abroad have become much more tangible to us at home. We have a much clearer picture of you. Researchers have compiled a „political profile‟ of Swiss livingabroad, and the conclusion is clear: you are more open and liberal than we are back home. And that, I believe, is good for us and for Switzerland.

Switzerland possesses many strengths that we can build on. This we all know. Quality is our maxim and innovation our objective; that is what makes our economy strong. But we also face big challenges: climate change, energy policy, financial and economic crises, a changing Europe. We Swiss are no strangers to these problems.

We need to keep an open mind and act decisively. We must do the right things today to provide a secure foundation for our children tomorrow and in the future. A foundation that gives them room to manoeuvre. We must establish a firm foothold to be able to withstand the pressures of tomorrow. We must look to the future; and we must try to picture ourselves from the outside, from the critical and self-critical perspective that you have of us, as Swiss living abroad.

You Swiss citizens living abroad are a part of our country. We want to be there for you, a safe haven providing strength and support back home in Switzerland. And we hope that you are also there for us, to be the voice of Switzerland abroad – standard bearers of the Swiss flag and its values of freedom, democracy and peace. To ensure that reliability and a feeling for quality prevail wherever it flies. For that I extend my warmest thanks to you!

On behalf of the Federal Council and the Swiss people at home, I wish you a happy first of August two-thousand and twelve!

Let us continue to be there for one another!

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