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Couchepin says Swiss can do more for country

Pascal Couchepin, the new president, has said people must have faith in the country's institutions and themselves, and to trust political, business and social leaders.

This content was published on January 3, 2003 - 10:19

In the traditional president's New Year's speech, Couchepin also called on Swiss citizens to become more involved in public life.

"Mistakes have been made," said Couchepin. "But we have to decide if we are to dwell on the negatives, or if we want to build a democratic society capable of reforming itself."

Couchepin added that the younger generations needed new opportunities and the poor needed more support.

The new president also called on the country's voters to make better use of Switzerland's direct democracy system. "Each citizen gets to decide," he said, "and in our country nobody can fail to take an interest in politics."

The Swiss will vote at least three times on a variety of issues. Couchepin said they would have to decide whether they want Switzerland to be open, prosperous and supportive of others.

"You will also have the opportunity to say what kind of relationship our country should have with its neighbours and the European Union," he added.

Couchepin hoped that political and social cohesion would be foremost in people's minds when voting.

"The Swiss usually show restraint when it comes to their own desires, leaving room for others to carry out their own projects and share in the country's prosperity," he said.

The new president added the Swiss should be prepared to take risks, but on their own terms.

"Nothing can be done without you, without your decisions, without your involvement in family, professional and political life," he said.

swissinfo with agencies

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