Social distancing brings the world to Switzerland


            <span id="articleAuthor">Monique Ryser</span> / 01. Aug 2020  - 
        <strong>Because the Swiss embassies cannot invite people abroad until August 1st, they celebrate via video messages.  It is worth seeing.</strong>
    </p><div><p class="paragraph">In Switzerland we can look forward to the "largest Swiss flag in the world" (80 by 80 meters) on the Santis.  But we can also look out over the mountains into the world: the Confederation maintains a total of 170 embassies, consulates general, cooperation offices and missions at international organizations across the globe.  At the beginning of the Corona crisis, they made a special contribution to the fact that around 7000 Swiss tourists were returned to their home country as part of the largest return campaign.</p><p class="paragraph">Switzerland does not only have representations abroad: around eleven percent of the Swiss population belong to the so-called Fifth Switzerland.  In numbers, that is 770,000 Swiss Abroad.  If the fifth Switzerland were a canton, it would be the fourth largest in the country after Zurich, Bern and Vaud. </p><p class="paragraph">The Swiss embassies usually celebrate August 1st with a big festival.  Then there is cheese, cervelats, Swiss wines, chocolate and - depending on your taste - for flavoring Aromat, Cenovis or Thomy mustard.  Swiss abroad and local fees are invited.</p><p class="paragraph"><img width="100%" src="" alt=""/></p><p class="paragraph"><span><p style="line-height: 90%">A Swiss cross made of flowers in the garden of the Swiss embassy in Tirana, Albania.<em> (Image: EDA)</em></p></span></p><p class="paragraph">But this year is true: groups should be avoided, celebrations are digital.  The Federal Department of Foreign Affairs has set up the website through Presence Switzerland and asked the ambassadors for a video message. </p><p class="section7"><strong style="font-weight:bold;">a look behind the scenes</strong></p><p class="paragraph">What was intended as a party substitute for the Swiss Abroad has become a unique window on the world.  As different as the people in Switzerland are, so are the women and men who represent Switzerland on the diplomatic stage.  Ambassador Rita Hammerli bakes a flip in Ecuador, the Charge d'affaire in Haiti, Fabrizio Paretti, cooks risotto, Rita Adam, ambassador in Italy, shows “panini speciali” (August 1st Weggen) and Ambassador Edita Vokral in Bolivia talks about the diversity of potatoes that originally come from their host country and have become the national dish of rosti in Switzerland over the centuries.</p><p class="paragraph"><img width="100%" src="" alt=""/></p><p class="paragraph"><span><p style="line-height: 90%">Ambassador Monika Schmutz Kirgoz at the old Mar Michael train station in Beirut.<em> (Image: EDA)</em></p></span></p><p class="paragraph">We learn that in Tbilisi, the capital of Georgia, the TV tower will be illuminated in Swiss colors on August 1st.  Or that there are antique locomotives at the old train station in Beirut, Lebanon, which were delivered to Beirut by the Swiss locomotive and machine factory in Winterthur in 1893.  Ambassador Monika Schmutz Kirgoz wanted to receive her reception here, but is now taking the video message as an opportunity to speak about the right to demonstrations and good governance in Lebanon, which is hit by corruption and the economic crisis.  The ambassador to Iran commemorates 100 years of diplomatic relations and the Ambassador of Albania to 50 years of cooperation with the country in the Balkans.  Ambassador Adrian Maître praised the resilience of the people of his host country in Tirana and how they dealt with not only the pandemic but also the earthquake last year.</p><p class="paragraph"><img width="100%" src="" alt=""/></p><p class="paragraph"><span><p style="line-height: 90%">Jeffrey Provencal in Ghana: "D Schwiiz is always no mini home."<em> (Image: EDA)</em></p></span></p><p class="paragraph">Philipp Stalder, responsible for Ghana, Togo and Benin, takes the opportunity to show Swiss people who create jobs in Ghana on the occasion of 60 years of diplomatic relations.  Yayra Glover grows organic cocoa and Jeffrey Provencal has set up a PET recycling company.  "D Schwiiz is always no mini home," says Jeffrey firmly.  The Foreign Minister of Ghana, Shirley Ayorkor Botchwey, also has a say and wishes all of Switzerland “a happy National Day”.</p><p class="paragraph">The Swiss ambassador to Yaounde, responsible for Cameroon, Equatorial Guinea and the Central African Republic, calls on the compatriots to sing the anthem and put it under <a target="_blank" href="" rel="noopener noreferrer">@SwissAmbYaounde</a> to post.  To show what he means, Pietro Lazzeri sings a verse himself.</p><p class="paragraph"><img width="50%" src="" style="float:left; margin-right: 10px"/>  Alain Gaschen (picture) in the Philippines scores with a social media video.  Heinz Walker-Nederkoorn blows the alphorn in The Hague, and Olaf Kjelsen in Athens travels to the origins of democracy in ancient Greece.  Yasmine Chatila Zwahlen speaks in Canberra to the approximately 25,000 Swiss nationals in Australia.  She is co-managing the embassy with her husband Pedro Zwahlen - but he is currently in corona quarantine because he has just returned to Australia from Switzerland.</p><p class="section16"><strong style="font-weight:bold;">«Happy federal celebration anyway»</strong></p><p class="paragraph">The most touching is the video of the embassy team in Colombo, responsible for Sri Lanka and the Maldives.  After a short speech by Hanspeter Mock, the members of the Swiss representation sing and compose a self-composed song: <em>«From the Team of the embassy, to you all over the country, in these times of social distancing, face masks and hand washing, we send you this message through the digital space: happy an safe National Day, frohliche Bundesfeier anyway, originale fete nationale en digitale, Buona Festa Nazionale a tutti.»</em></p><p class="paragraph">It is the hymn of the year 2020. Made in Sri Lanka, exclusively for Switzerland.  Listen and sing along!</p></div><div id="sendArticle" style="display:none;">
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