Mediator between people and government
The Swiss president for 2007, Micheline Calmy-Rey, has called for a fight against social injustice that threatens national cohesion.
In her New Year's Day address, Calmy-Rey said she wanted to play the role of mediator between the Swiss people and the government.
"I am particularly fond of this mediating role," she declared in her speech broadcast on Swiss radio and television.
According to Calmy-Rey, the Swiss presidency is "a marvellous opportunity" to listen to the population's hopes and concerns and to be able to pass them on to the government.
The new president, who will also keep her foreign ministry portfolio in 2007, also intends to tackle problems relating to globalisation which "does not benefit everyone in the same way".
"The gap between different incomes continues to widen, and as a result we have to react, as social injustice is a threat to national cohesion," she added.
The other main challenges facing Switzerland concern employment, the social security system and the environment.
"We can tackle all these issues if we realise that we are one community with common goals," she noted.
Calmy-Rey said what united the Swiss was the desire to work together within its institutions, making the most of the unique opportunities presented by direct democracy and the federal system to live together peacefully.
She said Switzerland had a strength that had enabled people of different religions, languages and cultures to co-exist. But its force must be based on "mutual respect" and has to be "built on and continually maintained".
"Integration means equality for each and every one of us, whatever our origin or gender," added the new president.
According to Calmy-Rey, equality of the sexes will be achieved once women are in a position to reconcile both family life and a professional career, and when women receive the same salary as men for the same job.
As foreign affairs minister, she said it was her duty to "safeguard our security and welfare", a mission she intended to continue with determination.
"We shouldn't be afraid of the future but face it with confidence. Our diversity and differences are our strengths. We know who we are and we know what we want," she stated.
swissinfo with agencies
Micheline Calmy-Rey was born in Chermignon in Canton Valais on July 8, 1945.
She is married with two children and has a degree in political science from the Graduate Institute of International Studies in Geneva.
Ruth Dreifuss was the first woman president of Switzerland - where women have had the right to vote in national elections only since 1971 - serving a one-year term in 1999.
Calmy-Rey will keep her foreign ministry portfolio when she takes over the ceremonial one-year post from Moritz Leuenberger.
1981-1997: Member of the Geneva cantonal parliament, chair of the finance commission, later speaker of the parliament.
1997: elected to the Geneva cantonal government.
2001: president of the Geneva cantonal government.
December 2002: elected to the cabinet, heading the foreign ministry. She is the fourth woman to be elected to the cabinet.
December 2006: elected Swiss president for 2007.
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