On our day of national celebration, I would like to take this opportunity to share a message with each and every one of you.
Whether adults or children, self-employed or employees, working or retired, each and every one of you day after day weaves invisible yet solid threads between the world and Switzerland.
Fellow Swiss abroad, today I would like to thank you for what you do.
Your presence abroad is a symbol of globalisation, characterised not only by the expanding mobility of goods and capital, but also of people. To a certain extent, you demonstrate to us at home, that we have no grounds to fear losing our identity in a more globalised world.
Wherever you may be, despite the years of absence and geographic distance from Switzerland, it is to celebrate our national holiday that you have come together. It is to recognise the ties with your family, your culture and your country.
Far from separating us, globalisation actually allows us to come closer together, something that is witnessed by the flurry of SMSs and emails, as well as the celebrations with ‘cervelas’ and Fendant. You also demonstrate your interest in our country when popular votes are held.
In recent years, more and more of you have chosen to express your opinions in these ballots. This is particularly pleasing because the Fifth Switzerland has a lot of political weight and the right to make itself heard.
Whether it’s a matter of Switzerland’s place in the world, European integration or more technical questions, you have defended the values of modernity, of opening up to the world and of change, tolerance and liberalism which corresponds well with the image of a Switzerland that is open and that shows solidarity.
And sooner or later, when the question of EU membership returns to the fore, your experiences and your influence will be valuable. Help us to shape the future! Right now, there is an imperative need for greater opening, if we want to find the path back to solid economic growth in Switzerland.
There needs to be more competition on the domestic market, greater incentive to innovate and start up new businesses. For in our country today, political debate is often marked by budgetary restraint, strife over the allocation of resources and a tendency to become more inward looking, a by-product of economic stagnation.
It is the overall quality of life that ends up suffering. That is why the Federal Council, at the beginning of the year, adopted a programme for growth.
The measures envisaged are reasonably ambitious. You will almost certainly be called upon to express your views on a number of them at some point. I am confident that you will support the Federal Council in its efforts on these occasions.
Stronger growth will enable us to face the economic, political and social challenges of the future more courageously. Stronger growth will enable us to shape an attractive and welcoming Switzerland for you and your children, a Switzerland that shows solidarity, a country of which we can all be proud.
I wish you a joyous celebration of this special day. And for the days ahead I wish you vitality, happiness and prosperity!