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Great and good join forces to promote integration

The Swiss need as much help as foreigners to relate to a changing society Keystone

A project to help integrate foreigners has been launched with heavyweights from the world of politics, business and the church lending their support.

This content was published on January 15, 2002 - 17:41

Intralink aims not only to help foreigners get to grips with life in Switzerland, but also to allay Swiss fears about foreigners and to assist them in understanding other cultures.

The initiative has being endorsed by the four parties in government, as well as business, churches, and organisations representing the interests of foreigners in Switzerland.

The project leader, Rudolf Erzer, told a press conference in Bern that the problems facing foreigners in Swiss society could no longer be overlooked.

He said the Swiss needed just as much help as foreigners in adapting to a changing society and understanding different cultures.

Ethnic platform

A key aim of Intralink is to establish an "ethnic platform" in the form of a series of centres where people facing problems relating to integration can receive professional help and advice from members of their own ethnic groups. A pilot project for Kosovo Albanians has already been launched.

The chairman of the Croatian World Congress, Simun Situ Coric, welcomed Intralink as a breakthrough in the process of cultural integration in Switzerland, and says it could be a model for other European countries.

The project is expected to cost up to SFr3 million in the first two years. The project's backers are hoping to secure funding from the Federal Commission for Foreigners, but say they are also hoping for private money.

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