Home Content Area
Arriving from Geneva, the Secretary General of the United Nations was welcomed late on Tuesday morning in Bern by the presidents of the two chambers of parliament, Hansjörg Walter, president of the National Council and Hans Altherr, president of the Council of States. He then talked briefly to a delegation of parliamentarians. After this he gave a speech to the Federal Assembly. This was a rare event, as no previous Secretary General of the United Nations had ever before spoken to the Federal Assembly.
In his speech, Mr Ban commended Switzerland's activity to reduce poverty in the world. "While almost all other countries are reducing their development aid budgets, with the risk of nullifying the hard-won gains in the reduction of poverty, Switzerland has taken the opposite route and earmarked additional funds. I would like to thank you for having so wisely decided to invest in humankind and resolutely opted for international solidarity" the Secretary General of the United Nations told the parliamentarians.
The presidents of the National Council and of the Council of States replied by expressing their pleasure that Switzerland has found its place in the United Nations over the past 10 years and that Swiss nationals occupy important positions in the UN system. Mr Walter mentioned in particular the presidency of the General Assembly by former Federal Councillor Joseph Deiss in 2010-2011.
After his visit to Parliament, Mr Ban took part in a working lunch at Lohn Residence at the invitation of President of the Swiss Confederation Eveline Widmer-Schlumpf. Federal Councillor Doris Leuthard and head of the FDFA Didier Burkhaler were also present. At the lunch, Mrs Widmer-Schlumpf stressed that Switzerland was the only country in the world that joined the United Nations following a referendum. Emphasising that cooperation between Switzerland and the UN is based on shared values, Mrs Widmer-Schlumpf stated Switzerland's priorities for the 67th session of the General Assembly.
During the talks, Federal Councillor Didier Burkhalter, the head of Swiss diplomacy, recalled the advantages of International Geneva, underlining the importance of the renovation of the Palais des Nations in the framework of the Strategic Heritage Plan. Mr Burkhalter also spoke of the work of the Human Rights Council and raised the question of reform of the Security Council.
Federal Councillor Doris Leuthard focused on Switzerland's commitment to sustainable development. She is the head of the Federal Department of the Environment, Transport, Energy and Communication (DETEC). She pointed out that Switzerland plays a highly active role in the process of follow-up of Rio+20.
Mr Ban started his official visit to Switzerland in Geneva on Monday. There he met Federal Councillor Didier Burkhalter and they both took part in a public conference organised by the University of Geneva and by the Graduate Institute. The conference analysed the challenges that the UN faces at the beginning of the 21st century. Switzerland's role within the organisation and in tackling international challenges was also discussed during this conference.
At the reception, Mr Burkhalter offered the UN Secretary-General a symbolic gift in the form of an apiary installed in the Parc de l’Ariana, the UN headquarters in Geneva. It will consist of 10 beehives decorated in the colours of Switzerland, each bearing an inscription focusing on a UN objective that also corresponds to the goals of Swiss foreign policy, for example Peace, Human Rights, Humanitarian.
For further information, please contact:
+41 31 32 23153