Excellences, dear colleagues,
Dear Swiss Compatriots,
Ladies and gentlemen
Marhab bikom fel Eed Al Watany Al Swisry
Welcome to the Swiss National Day
With my wife Shirley and my whole staff, we are honored tonight to have you in the garden of the fully renovated Swiss residence. The residence is using clean energy thanks to solar panels and information about this is available in this garden tonight.
My words will be few because of the rich program of the evening but I want to share with you four main points.
First, the deepening of the relationship between Egypt and Switzerland has continued thanks to the very successful visit of our Foreign Minister in March this year. His visit was an accelerator for our bilateral ties and clearly created a roadmap for more cooperation in several areas such as economy and finance, consular affairs and judicial cooperation, education and skills development, human rights, migration at national, regional and global levels, archeology and, of course, regional peace promotion. In the next weeks, we will have the visit in Switzerland of the Minister of Investment and International Cooperation Sahar Nasr (who will join us later tonight) and Minister of the public business sector Hisham Tawfiq. Simultaneously, our Deputy Minister, State Secretary Pascale Baeriswyl will come to Cairo for political consultations. These meetings will be followed by the visit of our Minister of Economic Affairs, Education and Research at the beginning of February 2020. This intense agenda gives us many opportunities to interact positively and in a conducive manner, with trust and respect, including on more challenging files. For all of this, I am grateful to our Egyptian counterparts and I want to make a special mention to H.E. Ambassador Amr Ramadan, the Assistant Foreign Minister for Europe who will also address us tonight as the representative of the Prime Minister. Thank you Amr for your friendliness towards Switzerland.
Ladies and Gentlemen, the second point is one of celebration. We have indeed reached 40 years of development cooperation programs of Switzerland in Egypt without interruption. A 40 years anniversary has in my view a symbolic nature: it means long term, it means maturity, it also means commitment from the Swiss people to the Egyptian people. 40 years can also be the time to reflect, to assess outcomes and to adapt to a new context. I will not go any further because Ambassador Raymund Furrer, the Head of the Economic Cooperation of SECO in the Swiss Ministry of Economic affairs will speak right after me on this topic. Ambassador Furrer, we welcome your presence tonight and your very productive visit to Egypt these days.
Allow me to add one more anniversary, global this time, which is dear to Switzerland: the Geneva Conventions, the pillars of International Humanitarian Law in modern times, are 70 years old. In the face of persisting violations of this Law in conflicts around the world, the International Community should spare no effort to have the Geneva Conventions adhered to and implemented properly.
Thirdly, I wish to express my gratitude to a number of people and partners. Above all, I want to thank all the companies that have helped us tonight to mark the 728th anniversary of the Swiss Confederation, namely our gold sponsors the Bank Julius Bär, Hero, IEC Medical Systems, Nestlé, Roche, Schindler and Sika as well as our other generous sponsors ABB, Holcim Lafarge Geocycle, MSC, SGS and UBS. Furthermore we have received in-kind donations from Swiss Airlines through tickets for the artists and from Nespresso, Mövenpick, Soudanco and Swiss Choice with delicacies that you will have a chance to taste all around the garden. I also wish to thank my whole staff for the great work in the last months, weeks and tonight in order to make this event as beautiful as we can.
Last but not least, I am convinced that cultural exchanges are essential to cement partnerships, open up to others and in the end contribute to peace. Tonight we started already with young artists of the Cairo and Aswan Region through the Aga Khan Music Initiative and we will end with a blaze of glory thanks to the artists of several countries of the Nile Basin brought to us by the Nile project. Both initiatives have been supported by the Swiss Development cooperation. And just after the speeches, we will be transported to a Swiss Jazz Club with the Swiss Fischermanns Orchestra.
With this, I wish you an enjoyable evening at the Swiss Residence and thank you for your attention.