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Calmy-Rey calls on Swiss abroad to vote

Keystone

The Swiss president in 2007, Micheline Calmy-Rey, has called on the Swiss living abroad to let their voice be heard at the forthcoming federal elections in October.

This content was published on July 31, 2007 - 21:07

In a speech to them marking Switzerland's National Day - August 1 – Calmy-Rey said it was no exaggeration to say the country had largely achieved the dream of a life of freedom, peace and justice.

"But rights and values are not guaranteed for eternity. The 'spirit of the Rütli' must be defended and developed," she said in a reference to what is considered the birthplace of Switzerland – the Rütli meadow in canton Uri.

It was there according to legend that three men from cantons Uri, Schwyz and Unterwalden signed a pact of eternal mutual defence against Habsburg repression.

"Fellow Swiss citizens abroad, you too can participate in this commitment by letting your voice be heard at the next federal elections," she said.

Calmy-Rey, who is the Swiss foreign minister, noted that not everyone was benefiting from globalisation, and while Switzerland was prospering at present, many people were facing economic difficulties.

Wage gap

In particular she said that the gap between low and high incomes was widening.

"Switzerland is going through a period of extraordinary growth, the benefits of which must be shared by all.

"A strong and durable economy should not exclude a part of the population. We need integration and equality of opportunity for all," she said.

Calmy-Rey, who is a member of the centre-left Social Democratic Party, called on the Swiss to preserve pluralism in Switzerland, arguing that the country could only benefit from it.

She noted that the Swiss had lived for a long time with a diversity of identities and cultures.

Past masters

"We are past masters in the art of living together, precisely because we speak different languages and are of different origins.

"Those who have come here from elsewhere also have contributed and participated in the development of everything that constitutes Switzerland," she said.

Calmy-Rey said Switzerland had achieved a great deal, which should be not only a source of pride but also joy.

August 1 was a day to think about this and to share the joy without false modesty.

"For those of us who believe in the good things that Switzerland offers, and who work to foster our heritage, August 1 is not like other days. Just as the Rütli meadow is not like any other meadow.

"It symbolises the will to work together to strengthen the things that unite us, while taking care to preserve our diversity."

swissinfo

Key facts

Micheline Calmy-Rey, 62, was born in Chermignon in canton Valais.
She is married with two children and has a degree in political science from the Graduate Institute of International Studies in Geneva.
Calmy-Rey was elected to the Swiss government on December 4, 2002 and appointed foreign minister.
She pursues an active foreign policy marked by a commitment to promoting peace, respect for international law and human rights, and the fight against poverty.

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Key facts

Micheline Calmy-Rey, 62, was born in Chermignon in canton Valais.
She is married with two children and has a degree in political science from the Graduate Institute of International Studies in Geneva.
Calmy-Rey was elected to the Swiss government on December 4, 2002 and appointed foreign minister.
She pursues an active foreign policy marked by a commitment to promoting peace, respect for international law and human rights, and the fight against poverty.

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Rütli meadow

Legend says that it was there on August 1, 1291, that representatives from three forest cantons around the lake of Lucerne – Uri, Schwyz and Nidwalden – met amidst continuing Habsburg repression to sign a pact of eternal mutual defence.

This is said to have laid the foundation of the Switzerland of today.

1291 is taken as the birth date of the country, and August 1 is the official Swiss national holiday.

On July 25, 1940, under threat of a Nazi invasion, Switzerland's commander in chief, General Henri Guisan, conducted a ceremony at the Rütli in which the entire Swiss officer corps – several hundred men – reaffirmed their allegiance to the confederation and to Swiss neutrality.

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