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Speeches and sparks Swiss National Day amid tropical temperatures

President Berset with wife and group of Swiss flag throwers on Rütli meadow

Berset and his wife amid a group of Swiss flag throwers on the Rütli meadow in central Switzerland

(Keystone)

Switzerland has marked its National Day with speeches by politicians, public events and private parties as well as some fireworks.

President Alain Berset addressed about 1,300 special guests on the Rütli meadow on Lake Lucerne – the alleged ‘birthplace’ of Switzerland in 1291.

In his speech, he praised the ability to compromise as the cornerstone for the country.

The theme of this year's event on the Rütli is national cohesion.

Berset and most of his colleagues in the seven-member Swiss government have been participating in numerous outdoor events over the past two days, including invitations for brunches at about 360 farms across the country.

The main farmers organisation expected around 150,000 people to take part.

Traditionally, the federal authorities also opened the doors for visitors of the parliament building in the capital, Bern.

An unusual heatwave which has struck much of Europe has led to restrictions or outright bans on the use of fireworks on August 1.

A notable exception were the official fireworks on the river Rhine in the city of Basel on Tuesday night, attended by an estimated 120,000 spectators.

Fireworks on the Rhine river in Basel

Fireworks illuminate the sky over the river Rhine in the Swiss city of Basel on the eve of Swiss National Day.

(Keystone)

Overnight temperatures on July 31 remained above 20°C (68°F) in many lower-lying regions of the country. Local thunderstorms, notably in the Alps, helped cool temperatures down slight during Wednesday’s festivities.

Firefighters had to intervene in eastern Switzerland to prevent small fires from spreading. They were apparently caused by people who failed observe official rules.

Swiss Abroad

Berset, who holds the rotating post of Swiss president this year, also recorded a special National Day address to the more than 750,000 expat Swiss living around the globe.  

swissinfo.ch with SDA-ATS; urs

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