Foreign Minister Micheline Calmy-Rey spoke on Friday at a church service in Geneva to mark the 500th anniversary of the birth of religious reformer Jean Calvin.
"Geneva's international impact owes much t o the work of Jean Calvin," she told the congregation of more than a thousand at the city's cathedral. She said he had striven to create a "new world", and to make Geneva the model for it.
She maintained that Calvin's teachings could be linked to the emergence of political freedom, and stressed his contribution to the spread of education.
The ecumenical service was one of a series of events in honour of Calvin in this anniversary year.
The World Alliance of Reformed Churches, one of the bodies which organised the service, pointed out that Calvin urged the churches to welcome refugees fleeing persecution.
"Today Geneva is still an international centre and welcomes both international organizations and refugees," the alliance said in a preview of the service.
Calvin was a French Protestant theologian and a central developer of Calvinism, or Reformed theology. He sought exile in Geneva from 1536 to his death in 1564.
His ministry there attracted other Protestant refugees and over time made Geneva a major force in the spread of Reformed theology.
swissinfo.ch and agencies
In compliance with the JTI standards