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Switzerland seeks closer ties again in America

Christoph Bubb, Switzerland's new consul-general in New York, has called for a further tightening of bilateral relations with the United States.

The Think Swiss programme, presenting Switzerland as a centre of innovation, education and research, will be used as a tool to boost contacts.

This programme is made up of a series of events and was set up by the State Secretariat for Education and Research, the Swiss foreign ministry, and its marketing arm, Presence Switzerland.

It follows on from last year’s Swiss Roots platform, which attempted to interest Americans in their Swiss heritage.

“It might not sound glamorous, but we shouldn’t underestimate the value of a good, close relationship between the two countries,” Bubb told swissinfo.

He knows what he’s talking about. During the 1990s, he was working at the Washington embassy when the controversy over Switzerland’s role during the Second World War was making headlines in the US.

At the time, he said, “rather than having a so-called good relationship, the Americans turned out to be no more than fair-weather friends”.

Both sides have since overcome these difficulties, but for Bubb there is still a need to improve the network of relations at different levels.

Think Swiss

Bubb took over his new position a month ago. Around half his work is constituted by traditional consular activities, looking after the 20,000 Swiss registered in New York.

The rest is given over to representing Switzerland as well as promoting it through programmes such as Think Swiss.

The programme is about communicating that Switzerland is a country with good science, talent, high-tech opportunities and creativity.

It also aims to show that it is possible for future generations to have a quality of life that is sustainable too, as Swiss Interior Minister Pascal Couchepin suggested at the launch of the project last August.

Scientific exchanges between universities and companies in both countries should increase.

With 12 different themes such as global warming and human rights proposed during the year-long programme, dialogue between opinion leaders and innovators in the educational, business and science fields should also be boosted.

swissinfo, based on an article in German by Rita Emch in New York

The 12 core topics of the Think Swiss programme:

Global warming
Life sciences
Human rights
Risk and insurance
E-voting and democracy
Swiss finance centre
Leonard Euler
Robotics and materials
Public transport
Exchange programmes
Swiss talents

Think Swiss is being coordinated by the Swiss House (Share) in Boston and its San Francisco counterpart Swissnex as well as the Office of Science, Technology and Higher Education at the Swiss embassy in Washington.

The Swiss consulates and other institutions in the US will also organise events as part of the programme, including workshops and exhibitions.

These events are aimed at universities, high-tech firms, administrations and NGOs.

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SWI - a branch of Swiss Broadcasting Corporation SRG SSR

SWI - a branch of Swiss Broadcasting Corporation SRG SSR