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 Ueli Maurer to the Swiss Abroad.
Dear Swiss Abroad
Today is the first of August. Today is Switzerland's birthday, and Swiss nationals – wherever they are living – are celebrating our common home.
I would like to stress three points that typify the relationship between Switzerland and yourselves:
Openness to the world, Swiss roots, and the essential role of the home country.
Switzerland has always been a country that is open to the world, and the same is true of its citizens.
There is also a long tradition of emigration. In previous centuries people emigrated to escape from poverty. Many places in North and South America are still named after their Swiss founders.
Today the wish for new experiences and job openings in Switzerland's global business network are the main reasons that prompt Swiss people to go and live abroad.
This traditional openess to the world has become their personal lifestyle. They have left Switzerland, perhaps for a short period, perhaps forever. Switzerland is a long way away in geographical terms but also sometimes in mental terms.
But this does not mean that they have turned their backs on Switzerland. They have not forgotten their roots.
I believe this is a strategy for success, for individuals and for the whole country: Keeping your eyes open, learning new things, exploiting the chances that arise, but at the same time knowing one's roots and preserving one's roots. Because those who lose or who deny their roots are giving up on themselves.
This brings me to the valuable role played by the home country... The home country is where we have our roots. Wherever people are living today, they know that there is a place in the world that will always be their home. A place, to which they feel attached, and where we are also attached to them.
This is the essence of the home country. People can come home whenever they want and they know there will be a welcome for them – because they are part of our community, our Switzerland.
We have common ideals: Peace, freedom, the rule of law, and direct democracy. Together we are this country, and this country also includes the Swiss citizens who live outside our borders.
On behalf of the Federal Council, I send my greetings to all Swiss citizens everywhere in the world.
Today let us rejoice in the fact that there is a small but free country in the world that is our home.