Vice President of the Federal Council,
President of the National Council,
President of the Council of States,
Ladies and gentlemen
I would like to begin by extending my gratitude to you, Mr President of the National Council, Ms President of the Council of States: thank you for making the parliament building available for this reception. And my warm thanks to you, Nuncio, as Doyen of the Diplomatic Corps, for your good wishes for the coming year. And to all of you, Excellencies, I also extend my thanks. Your work fosters exchange and dialogue. Both are central to successfully shaping the future.
“We appear to be well prepared to rise to the challenges of the 21st century.” That is a quote. While it is only five years old, it seems like it was said in a different time. They are my own words – I said them standing right here, in front of you or your predecessors. Five years later, we are in a very different place. The pandemic brought much suffering to the world, and now war has been raging in Europe for almost a year. In Ukraine, the consequences of the war are devastating – especially right now, in the cold winter months. Here, the war is affecting our energy and food supplies, the cost of living, and global security. In many countries, for instance in Africa or the Middle East, grain and fertiliser shortages are threatening food security.
The pandemic and the war have set us back in important global tasks, such as the fight against poverty and hunger, the right to education, gender equality, the fight against climate change and the promotion of peace and justice – to name but a few of our Sustainable Development Goals. Crises cause great suffering. But they also teach us that we are not simply at the mercy of circumstance, but that we can unleash enormous forces – if only we work together.
But there is still much potential, especially in international cooperation. Multilateralism was put under severe pressure last year, but it is more important now than ever. Switzerland will continue to advocate for strong international cooperation. For the next two years, Switzerland will have a seat on the UN Security Council. Switzerland will strengthen its commitment to peace and security while on the Council, and will contribute in particular its extensive experience in peacebuilding and multilateral solution-finding. We will place a particular focus on the protection of civilian populations in conflicts.
For Switzerland, it is vital we have a global order that strengthens the rule of law. Peace and stability are essential for prosperity and development. As a host state and the home of internationally-oriented Geneva, Switzerland has always supported efforts to find global solutions to global problems, and to working together to resolve conflicts peacefully.
Acute crises threaten to push other, latent crises into the background – for example the climate crisis or the decline in biodiversity. In terms of climate policy, the Federal Council will continue to advocate for strong climate protection. Our goal is that at the next climate conference in Dubai in winter 2023, effective decisions will be made to curb global warming.
Switzerland is in intensive exploratory talks with the EU. This is a positive development: both sides understand that good relations are in everyone’s interest. Switzerland and the EU are closely intertwined and share common core values.
Excellencies, there is great uncertainty. There have been times when it was easier to be optimistic. Nevertheless – or precisely for this reason – we must now move forward together, step by step. For there are reasons to be optimistic: for instance, consider the unity with which the Ukraine is being supported, or the courageous resistance that has formed against authoritarian regimes. To you and the states you represent, I would like to convey the best wishes of the Federal Council and the Swiss people – as well as my own wishes for peace, security and well-being.
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