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Presidential message Swiss chief urges caution and diplomacy

Swiss President Johann Schneider-Ammann starts the National Day celebrations a day ahead of time


Swiss President Johann Schneider-Ammann says the nation must prepare itself for the possibility of a terror attack like those that have been occurring with greater frequency in Europe.

He said in an interview with Swiss public radio RTS aired on Sunday (in French)external link that while "Switzerland is not threatened directly," the country cannot turn a blind eye to the risks.

"It would be very dangerous to think that we are immune. We must be prepared to fight against all these attacks,” said the Swiss economics minister, a member of the centre-right Radical Party.

Schneider-Ammann, who holds the yearly revolving presidency among the seven-member cabinet of ministers, said the solution lies in "strengthening protection forces" and "increasing capacity in this sector."

Education and training

Making the traditional rounds of press ahead of Switzerland’s National Day on August 1, he also emphasised the need for high levels of training that is important for research – and keeping the country competitive internationally.

"I want to offer to everyone in this country, first of all to young people, some perspective. Having this perspective means a guaranteed work place", he said during the interview with RTS at the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology in Lausanne (EPFL).

On August 1, the founding of Switzerland is celebrated with fireworks, bonfires and the traditional gathering on the Rütli meadow - considered the birthplace of the Swiss confederation. It's a time for flag-waving, speeches, donning traditional costume and grilling cervelat sausages.

EU relations

Schneider-Ammann, speaking with Swiss public television SRF for an interview aired on Sunday (in German)external link, acknowledged there was still no easy solution to the immigration “dilemma” that Switzerland faces in its relations with the European Union.

“We must find a way to make the movement of persons possible and simultaneously implement the will of the people and dampen immigration,” he said. “That is squaring the circle, but we are working to bring together these two ends.”

“This is not easy – especially not after the United Kingdom’s vote to leave the European Union,” he added. “But I remain optimistic: In the end, both the EU and we want regulated conditions. I cannot say when we will have a solution or how it will look. But I'm saying: They need to exist.”

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