New Year reception of the Diplomatic Corps

Bern, 17.01.2018 - Address by the President of the Confederation, Mr Alain Berset. Check against deliver.

Nuncio,
Federal Councillor,
President of the National Council,
President of the Council of States,
Excellencies,


Ladies and gentlemen,

  • Dear President of the National Council,
    Dear President of the Council of States: many thanks for having given me the opportunity to organise the reception today here in the Federal Palace.
  • And my warm thanks to you, Nuncio, as Doyen of the Diplomatic Corps, for your new year’s wishes.
  • I would also like to thank you, Excellencies, for coming today and for your excellent work throughout the year.

The times we live in are full of contradictions. In many respects, we live in the best of all possible worlds known so far.

In most countries,

  • Life expectancy is rising, 
  • Public health is improving, 
  • Education levels are rising 
  • and mobility has never been so widespread.

The global economy is now on the rise, and is expected to be so for several years. Europe, having spent several years combatting a crisis, is now returning to a more stable – even flourishing – economic environment.

We appear to be well prepared to rise to the challenges of the 21st century and to grasp the opportunities offered by, for example, the digital revolution. Nonetheless, as the future looms, feelings of insecurity and fear are perceptible. And let us not forget: There are parts of the world where there is no guarantee of personal security, where human rights are not respected, where there is war.


Excellencies, 

We must be clear: the economic data may be encouraging, but they are not a true reflection of the day-to-day reality of many people.
They do not just feel overrun by developments. They sense a real danger undermining our society: inequality.

Inequality endangers not only economic development, but also stability and security worldwide. The International Monetary Fund also warns of the risks linked to inequality, and rightly calls on us to battle against it.

For me this means doing two things:

  • On a short to medium term, distribute the fruits of the economic recovery fairly.
  • The medium- to long-term task is even more difficult, and should be tackled in particular at international level. Let us make sure that digitalisation does not widen existing gaps or create new ones.

This risk is real. However, digitalisation brings great opportunities too.

  • Switzerland strongly believes that it can help us to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals more efficiently. For example: It is important to empower and encourage women and young girls to develop their digital skills. Switzerland supports the respective initiatives of UN Women, the International Telecommunication Union (ITU) and other organisations.
  • We are also closely following the development of the Digital Single Market in Europe.


Excellencies, 

Switzerland is located in the heart of Europe and is surrounded by member states of the European Union. The EU with its 28 member states is by far Switzerland’s most important partner. Switzerland is also one of the EU’s major partners.

We have a shared interest in maintaining fruitful, stable and reliable relations. Which is not always easy, as we have seen in recent years!

Switzerland is also one of the most globalised nations in the world. We have numerous partners in Africa, Asia and the Americas with whom we have been able to strengthen relations in recent years.

Globalisation however has increased the complexity of international relations. All the more, Switzerland remains strongly committed to international cooperation and to the respect for international law.

This is one of our foremost foreign policy objectives as it contributes to peace, stability and security as well as the protection of human rights. This year we hope to continue to progress in these areas. To increase security and stability, to improve public health systems.


Excellencies,

The international order and economic fairness are not the only elements which bind our societies together. Culture also plays its part. We are embarking on the European Year of Cultural Heritage. This heritage is our memorial treasure, and this year presents an opportunity to discover it.

Switzerland is going to kick off the year with a declaration on architectural culture, which will be drawn up in Davos with the participation of the ministers of culture. Indeed, the built environment influences our cultural identity and our quality of life.

Considering the rate at which the world is changing, our historical memory is more necessary than ever. We are confronted with profound economic and political changes. In the light of these, I believe it is important to invest in the future: in educational opportunities, in culture.

In our interconnected world we are faced with a very simple choice. Either we find a way to make globalisation sustainable economically, socially and ecologically, or fundamentalist and populist forces will dictate the agenda.

At the crossroads at which we find ourselves, nations, political systems and individuals themselves are coming under pressure. In these circumstances, we need to seek common solutions and increase dialogue between nations. Thank you for the role you play in this.
And now, on behalf of the Federal Council and the Swiss people, I would like to express my very best wishes to you and to the countries you represent; may the new year bring peace, security and well-being to us all. 

Thank you.


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