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Schmid thanks Swiss for their solidarity

The year 2005 in south Asia has begun under a cloud of devastation Keystone

The Swiss president for 2005, Samuel Schmid, has thanked the Swiss for their solidarity with the victims of Sunday’s tidal waves in south Asia.

This content was published on January 1, 2005 - 11:52

In his New Year's speech on Saturday, he called for optimism and confidence, warning that fear had little place in today’s society.

The United Nations now estimates that 150,000 people have been killed in the Asian tragedy.

“The catastrophe in Asia has, by its sheer size, surpassed everything that we could possibly imagine,” Schmid said in an address broadcast on national radio and television on his first day in office.

“The tragedy reminds us to be humble and modest. It also calls for silence in a world that is at times prey to noise and glitter,” he added.

Reflection

Schmid called on people in Switzerland to make a pause for reflection “so that our thoughts can be for some moments with all those who have been affected by this very great misfortune”.

Now more than during normal times, people needed security, human warmth and assurance, he said.

He warned against indecision and fear in the face of rapid and never-ending change in society, the difficult financial situation of the federal coffers and unemployment.

Schmid said that they were “bad advisors” and turned people’s attention away from what really had to be done.

People, he said, should not ask more from social institutions, and in the world of the economy, the word “performance” had once again to have a positive meaning.

“We do not have to fear the challenges of the future. On the contrary. Each and every one of us has to accomplish his mission in life with assurance and confidence”.

“New challenges”

“Everyone faces new challenges. We can do more, much more than we think,” he added.

Schmid also called for moderation and consensus, hoping that politicians could mobilise and unite the forces needed for the good of all.

“To be willing to work together towards common solutions does not mean giving in. Such willingness shows respect for others. It is the opposite of ideology and fanaticism.”

Schmid, who is a member of the rightwing Swiss People’s Party, said he anticipated that the debate on the second set of bilateral accords between Switzerland and the European Union would be lively but he called for it to respect the opinions of others.

He added that he could understand the opposition of some people but emphasised that the accords would benefit the economy, Swiss security, the environment and youth.

swissinfo with agencies

Key facts

An earthquake on Sunday measuring nine on the Richter scale caused a series of tidal waves in the Indian Ocean.
Sri Lanka, India, Indonesia, Malaysia, Thailand and the Maldives suffered large-scale destruction.
According to official statistics, more than 130,000 people were killed.
Thirteen Swiss are confirmed dead, with 70 presumed dead.

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In brief

The Swiss president for 2005, Samuel Schmid, has thanked the Swiss for their solidarity with the victims of Sunday’s tidal waves in south Asia.

Schmid, who is Switzerland’s defence and sports minister, called on the Swiss to make a pause for reflection on the tragedy.

He also called on the Swiss to show optimism and self-confidence for the future.

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