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Schmid praises Swiss 'success story'

Swiss President Samuel Schmid flagging up his National Day speech

(Keystone)

Switzerland must tackle the future head-on and with confidence, Swiss President Samuel Schmid declared in his National Day radio and television broadcast.

Schmid's speech, recorded last Tuesday, was broadcast on August 1 from the Federal Sport Office high up in the Jura above Lake Biel.

"Sport helps us to overcome our inhibitions and to move fictitious borders," said Schmid, who is also minister for sport.

"The story of Switzerland is a success story," he said. "That such a small population in such a small country has survived for so many centuries should not be taken for granted."

He then saluted "the courage, ability, intelligence and endurance" of past generations that has made Switzerland what it is today.

Schmid maintained that "Switzerland is still going well", but he acknowledged the everyday concerns of many of its citizens.

"We have to sort out the public finances," he said. "We must boost economic growth."

"We need more jobs – especially for young people who are stepping into working life."

Schmid followed these soundbites by explaining that "unavoidable problems need short-term practicable solutions – these are better than tempting alternatives".

Complaints

He recognised that many Swiss were concerned about the future, "but despite everything we have to admit that if we complain – and we complain too much – then we’re complaining at a relatively high level".

Schmid then personalised his generalisations: "I recently met a farming family in Appenzell who told me how they tackle the challenge of change: if at first you don’t succeed, try again – differently."

Schmid summed up the qualities of his mountain family as "self-assured, competent and autonomous – coping not carping!"

He then called on Swiss people to reflect on, be proud of and celebrate the positives and successes of their country.

"The spectacular countryside, cutting-edge infrastructure, superior health service and education, low inflation and unemployment, protection of minorities, direct democracy, political stability – we have a proud history," he said.

"We owe our forefathers a lot, and we should do what they always did: look ahead with confidence."

Challenges

Returning to the present, Schmid said Switzerland was fighting a "scourge of humanity" in the form of terror and that it had to maintain its national defence and security at the highest level.

"We must remain both vigilant and calm," he said.

Schmid ended his speech by plugging the September 25 vote on whether to extend a labour accord with the European Union to the ten new member states "whose new markets we would have the chance to use".

"The government and parliament have minimised – through additional protective measures for Swiss jobs – the potential risks posed by further enlargement," Schmid said.

"I’m looking forward to the next chapter in the success story that is Switzerland," he concluded. "Let’s write it together!"

swissinfo

Key facts

Having a Swiss National Day on August 1 was introduced at the end of the 19th century but it only became a national holiday in 1994.
Legend has it that at the beginning of August 1291 men from three alpine cantons in central Switzerland swore allegiance to one another, setting the foundation for what was to become modern-day Switzerland in 1848.

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