The Swiss president, Adolf Ogi, has unveiled the government's political targets for 2001. He announced that the government would strive towards its main goals next year - bilateral treaties with the European Union and the modernisation of the army.
Speaking before the House of Representatives, Ogi said the government would use the favourable state of the Swiss economy to make the country a more open and attractive place.
During his final address in parliament, he emphasised the importance of the seven bilateral treaties with the EU, which are to come into force next year. He said that additional room for manoeuvre with Brussels would allow Switzerland to solve unresolved questions.
He said a nationwide dialogue on proposals for Switzerland to join the United Nations would also be launched next year. In terms of national security, far-reaching structural army reforms and a complete overhaul of civil defence were priorities for next year, according to Ogi.
New legislation to reform higher education would also enter consultation in 2001, Ogi told parliament. Reforms affecting Swisscom and the Post Office would also be underway next year, so that the two services would serve the interests of the people and the economy.
New, more effective measures to stop anti-competitive behaviour in the Swiss economy are also being planned, Ogi revealed in his speech.
He said that a complete revision of atomic legislation would allow Swiss nuclear power stations to continue to operate, as long they were safe.
Changes are in the pipeline for Switzerland's media regulations. Ogi hinted that the quality of public service media should be boosted and that private outlets should be given more freedom.
He predicted that reforms of the social security network would continue throughout 2001.
Referring to Switzerland's foreign population Ogi said that a change in migration policy would be manifested in a new alien law and a bill for easing the naturalisation process. The asylum law would be partially amended and rules concerning arrivals form "third countries" would be looked at.
Ogi highlighted moves to help improve the regional equilibrium in Switzerland with the help of a financial distribution plan and greater cultural exchanges between the regions.
Adolf Ogi is due to retire as president at the end of this year and will be replaced by Moritz Leuenberger who also holds the transport and energy portfolios.
swissinfo with agencies