Schmid sells "dynamic" Switzerland at Expo
President Samuel Schmid has officially launched Swiss Day at the 2005 World Expo in Aichi, Japan.
In his speech he presented a picture of a dynamic and innovative Switzerland that was also concerned about environmental protection.
Schmid quoted the English philosopher Francis Bacon when he launched Swiss Day at Expo 2005, whose motto is "The Wisdom of Nature".
"Nature, to be commanded, must be obeyed," he told the 1,000-strong audience at the Expo Dome.
The greatest challenge facing the world today was combining technological advances with sustained development, he added.
"I hope you discover a dynamic, innovative Switzerland which is also concerned about the environment," said Schmid.
Schmid was accompanied by Jenö Staehelin, the country’s special representative at the Expo and a former ambassador to Japan.
"Switzerland wants to convey the image of a dynamic country which is closely attached to tradition," Staehelin told swissinfo.
Schmid’s appearance is the second time a Swiss president has visited Japan within a year. His predecessor, Joseph Deiss, paid a visit to Tokyo in October.
One of the aims of the diplomatic offensive is to distance Switzerland from its Heidi image and to present itself as an innovative and technologically cutting-edge nation which would also interest Japanese businesses.
In addition to the official visits, a varied programme has been banging the drum for a modern Switzerland also on a cultural level.
After attending Swiss Day, Schmid will make a short private trip to Shinshiro, Switzerland’s twin city at the Expo.
On Monday and Tuesday Schmid - who is Switzerland's defence minister - is due to meet his Japanese counterpart, Yoshinori Ohno.
He will also make courtesy visits to Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi and Emperor Akihito.
swissinfo, Christian Raaflaub in Aichi, Japan
The first World Expo took place in London in 1851.
The most recent global exhibitions are:
1970: Osaka, Japan
1992: Seville, Spain
1998: Lisbon, Portugal
2000: Hanover, Germany
2005: Aichi, Japan
The next World Expo is due to be held in the Chinese city of Shanghai in 2010.
April 15 is official Swiss Day at Expo 2005 in the Japanese province of Aichi.
Swiss President Samuel Schmid launched the celebrations in the Expo Dome.
Next week he is due in Tokyo for talks with Japanese Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi.
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