Couchepin urges better cultural understanding

Swiss President Pascal Couchepin has called for more efforts to find practical solutions to problems arising when different cultures and religions live together.

This content was published on January 16, 2008 - 19:06

He made the comments during the traditional New Year's address to the 120 or so foreign diplomats resident in Switzerland.

Couchepin said relations between different cultures, religions and civilisations were not always easy and that Switzerland, a crossroads of cultures and religions, had had to learn about peaceful coexistence in a confined space.

"Switzerland has integrated the lessons learnt from history into its politics. A dialogue about values can encourage mutual trust, but it can also accentuate differences," he said.

"To go forward together, it is essential to focus on solving specific problems and seek practical solutions with the parties concerned," added Couchepin, pointing to the country's active peace promotion policy.

The president also spoke of his pride of the Euro 2008 football championships, which Switzerland is co-hosting in June with neighbouring Austria.

"I hope that the event will be a celebration – a sporting celebration but also a celebration that shows Switzerland's natural vocation: a dynamic, cosmopolitan partner at the heart of Europe," he said.

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