Excellencies, dear colleagues,
Dear Swiss Compatriots,
Ladies and gentlemen,
Welcome to the Swiss National Day Annual Reception
With my wife Shirley, we are delighted tonight to welcome you all in the garden of the Swiss residence, whose renovation will be soon completed, Inchallah. As you are all waiting for the Raclette, I shall make it short, even though …El Sabr gameel!, an important sentence learned this year in Egypt.
Well, in 2018, Egypt and Switzerland deepened their relations at various levels. For that, I am grateful to our Egyptian partners and to my very enthusiastic team at the Embassy. I have two piece of good news to give you: the first one is that Swiss airlines will start flights from Geneva to Hurghada in three days, the second one is that we will officially open on October 21st a Honorary Consulate for the Red Sea Governorate based in El Gouna with a Swiss Honorary Consul named Véronique Lusci.
On the political level, the highlight of our bilateral relations was a very productive meeting between our President Alain Berset and President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi during the General Assembly in New York. The focus of the exchange was on economic interaction between our two countries and migration.
Our cooperation with Egypt is more dynamic than ever: dual education schemes, financial inclusiveness and work with host communities of refugees and migrants are only a few highlights of our action. Women and Youth are part and parcel of all projects. Everything is done in the spirit of the 2030 Sustainable Development Goals and together with the authorities and the civil society in Egypt. And we hope to add soon more projects on the green economy and the supply of potable water in Upper Egypt.
Dear Guests, at a time when multilateralism is questioned by some, my President said the following at the General Assembly in New York: “All States are stronger if the international situation is more stable. The world is not a zero-sum game. It is a positive-sum game, where cooperation creates only winners.” END OF THE QUOTE. The cooperative approach also means that any subject can be debated at the factual level and with the necessary openness, including on human rights issues. This, by the way, is the quality of a good friendship. As this day coincidentally marks the 16th World Day against the death penalty, it is important for us to mention that this topic remains a priority of our foreign policy worldwide.
Ladies and Gentlemen, the theme of this year’s National Day Reception is Innovation and Tradition. This is very illustrative of how Switzerland operates. On the one hand, the traditions are well preserved at regional level and you will experience it yourself tonight again, as soon as the buffet will be open after the concert. On the other hand, Switzerland permanently tries to innovate, to add some value to its products. The special “Macaroni of the Alps” presented tonight by the well-known in Egypt Swiss Chef Markus Iten will merge tradition and innovation in a “Koshari”-style Swiss dish, that, we hope, will stay in your memory. But further than that, Switzerland is constantly seeking new solutions in automation, smart cities and digitalization. Thanks to innovation, tonight, your coffee will be served by a special robot.
This leads me to say a huge thank you to the increasing number of Swiss companies and Swiss-affiliated companies that are making this big event possible and, we hope, even more attractive to you. It shows the very important Swiss economic presence and their “attachement” to Switzerland and our Embassy. I name them by alphabetical order: ABB, East, Geocycle, Hero, Hotel Longchamps, Lafarge-Holcim, Mariout Hills Developments, Mövenpick, MSC, Nestlé, Nestlé Waters, Nespresso, Roche, SGS, Sika, Soudanco (representing Lindt and Emmi), Syngenta, Swiss and last but not least Swiss Choice alias EgySwiss.
I leave it to you to discover all the delicacies and specificities the companies are displaying tonight including photo magnets for each and every one of you. All these companies are members of the Swiss Egyptian Business Association, another key partner of the Embassy. And I must also mention the special contribution of our dear Swiss Club in Imbaba.
Finally, Excellencies, Ladies and Gentlemen, on top of the Anniversary of the Swiss Confederation, I have another anniversary to announce: we celebrate tonight the 30th anniversary of the presence in Cairo of the office of the Swiss Arts Council, Pro Helvetia. It covers the whole Middle East and North Africa region. Pro Helvetia Cairo brings together Swiss and Egyptian artists, culture promoters and practitioners. They focus especially on contemporary dance, theatre, music, visual arts and literature.
Allow me therefore to call on this stage the Director of the Regional Office Mrs. Dalia Suleiman as well as our silver jubilee colleague Mrs. Maysoon Mafhoudh who has worked 25 years for Pro Helvetia in Cairo and will leave us soon. Together with Dalia and Maysoon, we will introduce the musical performance. And by the way, Pro Helvetia has a special information table here tonight that I invite you to discover.
Well, tonight, for the first time in Egypt and thanks to Pro Helvetia, we will now listen to the Swiss Kaleidoscope String Quartet. With this beautiful name, the Quartet will show us how it defines its own musical language by eliminating musical boundaries and exploring the connecting links to other musical genres. They will play for us some pieces from their new CD „Reflections“, as well as some beautiful pieces of their older repertoire.
I wish you a beautiful evening and thank you for your attention.