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Switzerland to boost its image abroad

The Swiss government on Wednesday announced a major programme aimed at improving Switzerland’s image abroad, particularly in the United States.

This content was published on September 8, 1999 - 16:43

The Swiss government on Wednesday announced a major programme aimed at improving Switzerland’s image abroad, particularly in the United States.

Foreign Minister Joseph Deiss told a news conference in the capital Berne that the government was asking parliament to approve SFr46 million ($31 million) over four years for a new organisation -- called "Presence Switzerland" -- to carry out the massive public relations and information project.

“Switzerland’s image abroad has suffered quite a bit recently,” Deiss said, adding that it was important for Switzerland to modernise its presence abroad.

The foreign minister said that, in a first stage, the focus would be on the United States, where Switzerland’s political image had suffered a serious dent because of the controversy over Switzerland’s dealings with Nazi Germany during World War II, and the Holocaust assets in Swiss banks.

Deiss said people in the U.S. should learn more about Switzerland’s cultural diversity, its humanitarian work and the country’s democratic traditions.

The new PR office would mostly rely on television and the Internet to get those facts across, Deiss said.

Should parliament approve the government proposal, the permanent programme could get underway next July and might also focus on Europe or other countries in the world.

The campaign will target influential people and institutions abroad
with positive messages about Switzerland, and serve as an early-warning system to detect image problems, the foreign ministry said.

From staff and wire reports.

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