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Swiss president praises work of volunteers

Leuenberger (right) was joined at the symposium by the Spanish crown prince, Felipe de Asturias Keystone

The Swiss president, Moritz Leuenberger, has praised the work of volunteers at a symposium in Geneva to mark the end of International Volunteer Year.

This content was published on November 19, 2001 - 22:48

"The work of the volunteer opens our eyes to the values of the human being and of humanity itself," Leuenberger said during the course of his address to delegates.

According to figures released by the Federal Statistics Office, 41 per cent of Swiss people regularly undertake some kind of voluntary activity.

Taken together, Leuenberger suggested the amount of voluntary work carried out every year in Switzerland is equal to 284,000 full-time posts.

But the president stressed that the importance of voluntary work could not be encapsulated in a crude set of statistics.

"The value of an individual to society can never be measured by figures alone," he added.

Volunteers from more than 100 countries are taking part in the symposium, which continues until Wednesday and is being supported financially by the Swiss government and by authorities in canton Geneva.

"In a society focused only on money and financial transactions," Leuenberger said, "fundamental values such as solidarity, a sense of responsibility and regard for others would lose their worth."

swissinfo with agencies

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