Dear Minister Nicolai Wammen,
Dear Members of the Folketing and of the Swiss National Council,
Dear fellow citizen and Dear friends of Switzerland in Denmark,
Ladies and Gentlemen,
I am very pleased and honored to be with you tonight on the occasion of 100 Years of integral diplomatic relations between Switzerland and Denmark! Celebrating the long-lasting friendship between two countries is definitely one of the most pleasant duties for a Minister of Foreign Affairs!
On a more serious note, I would like to emphasize that the open, diverse and constructive relations we have maintained and developed over the last 100 years mean a lot to us! Today we celebrate our close relationship. At the same time, this celebration is an opportunity to reflect on how we can strengthen our collaboration in order to face together the new challenges of our time.
Allow me to seize this opportunity to sincerely thank Minister Nicolai Wammen for honouring this evening with his presence and, through you, Minister, the Danish Government for warmly welcoming me and my delegation for this official visit. It will be also a special honour for me, and for Switzerland, to be received tomorrow by Her Majesty Queen Margrethe II on this important occasion.
We are here to celebrate 100 years of diplomatic relations between our countries. However, that is actually not completely true, I am afraid: In reality our «diplomatic relations» started already some 350 years ago, when the Swiss Federal Diet interceded with King Christian V in favour of French Huguenots to be allowed to settle in Denmark! The Swiss of that time were already providing their good offices!
Two hundred years later, in 1864, the International Committee of the Red Cross, newly founded, conducted its first international mission during the Schleswig-Holstein War. The ICRC sent a delegate to each opposing side – meaning Denmark on one side and Prussia and Austria on the other. The delegates noted that the Red Cross project was feasible, but needed international support to be successful. This led to the adoption, in August 1864, of the First Geneva Convention. 12 countries were amongst the first signatories, including of course Switzerland and Denmark!
After this international conference in Geneva, Denmark proposed to Switzerland to sign a Treaty of Friendship. This important milestone in our diplomatic relations was signed in 1875. I would like to propose, Minister, that in 2025 we celebrate 150 years of the Treaty of Friendship in Switzerland!
Ladies and Gentlemen
Not to worry, I am not going to review every event of the last over 100 years! What I would like to highlight though are the common values we share, more specifically the respect of international law, human rights, freedom of expression, democracy and humanitarian law to name a few. These principles provided a solid basis for our cooperation throughout the challenges of the 20th century, from the League of Nations, to the UN, EFTA, the Swiss-EU relations or the Arctic Council.
Besides these fundamental values, Swiss and Danes share another fundamental characteristic: the explorer’s spirit!
Since the times of the Vikings, the Danes have explored the seas Okay, I know the Swiss have no sea, however, we have mountains und glaciers to explore. This passion for glaciers and for science led the Swiss explorer Alfred de Quervain to make the first successful crossing of Greenland, from its Western to its Eastern coast in 1912. Some 80 years later, the world renowned glaciologist, Prof. Konrad Steffen, built in Greenland the Swiss Camp, where he has been conducting research on the impact of global warming on the Arctic until his tragic passing last August.
This sense for exploration, this curiosity to discover and understand the world is reflected in our talent for innovation and research, and in our willingness to take risks. At a time where technology and knowledge are developing so rapidly and where the COVID-19 pandemic and the globalization are causing increasing uncertainty, our small but competitive countries have to innovate, adapt, think ahead and develop alliances to defend and promote our fundamental values and our way of life.
Ladies and Gentlemen
Based on their long friendship and common values, on their scientific expertise and readiness to face new challenges, I am convinced that Switzerland and Denmark have a mutual interest to strengthen their cooperation and to join forces to contribute to a strong European economic and scientific cooperation.
In addition, allow me to give you a brief update on relations between Switzerland and the EU. 59.5 percent of Swiss voters reiterated their support for the free movement of persons with the EU last September. This very positive result confirms the high acceptance in Switzerland for our strong relations with our neighbors!
The Federal Council is now considering the next steps in our bilateral relations, namely the conclusion of an Institutional Agreement that should give a new frame to our dynamic relations.
Ladies and Gentlemen
Let’s celebrate 100 years of diplomatic relations as an important milestone in our good relations! Switzerland and Denmark will continue and expand their fruitful cooperation for the upcoming 100 years!
May I invite you, Minister, to join me on stage.
As a symbol of our long-standing bilateral relations, I would like to offer you a Swiss rock crystal. It might remind you of an iceberg but in reality it comes directly from the Swiss Alps. Its pedestal is made of walnut-wood, a tree usually known for its elasticity. The combination of the two materials reminded me of the solidity and flexibility that characterize the bilateral relations between Switzerland and Denmark.
Let’s raise our glasses to our long-lasting friendship, to the prosperity of our countries and the good health of our people to all of us present tonight!
I wish you a very nice evening!