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Dear Friend of Switzerland,
Welcome to the Embassy of Switzerland´s e-newsletter, designed to inform you of the many things uniquely Swiss! As always, we welcome your comments at was.info@eda.admin.ch and thank you for subscribing. If you are having trouble viewing this e-mail, you may see it online.

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Presidentof the United States of America, Barack Obama, Ambassador of Switzerland to the United States, Manuel Sager, and Christine Sager Dear Reader,

It was a great honor for me when the Swiss Federal Council appointed me to succeed Urs Ziswiler as Ambassador to the United States of America a few months ago. I had the pleasure to serve in this country with my American-born wife Christine already twice before, from 1995 to 1999 as Deputy Consul General in New York, and from 1999 to October 2001 as Director of Communications at the Embassy in Washington, D.C. As we all know, Americans move fast and often, and, as transience goes, Washingtonians are probably more restless than most. Thus, while we did not expect simply to be able to pick up from our former lives, Christine and I were nevertheless grateful to find many familiar faces at the Embassy and around town, thanks to our previous assignment here as well as twenty two-years in the Swiss diplomatic service.

At the end of the year, we usually look back on our achievements and successes, and the brave even reflect on their shortcomings. However, having been here only two months, I take the liberty to skip the past and instead give you a brief preview of what lies ahead in Swiss-US relations in the coming year.

Throughout the lingering economic crisis, Switzerland and the US have maintained excellent trade relations. They are based on the shared conviction that free trade in goods and services is the hallmark of successful economies. Furthermore, Swiss investments in the US reached $149.4 billion in 2008 making Switzerland the 6th largest foreign investor. Conversely, with $86.5 billion, Switzerland is the 8th largest destination of U.S. direct investment. Yet, contracting markets and the false belief that global exports is a zero-sum game have led to protectionist tendencies in many parts of the world. Thus, the Swiss Government hopes that Switzerland and the US may join forces to fight these tendencies by helping to bring the Doha-round of the WTO to a swift and successful conclusion.

The competitiveness of both countries may further be strengthened through increased cooperation in the fields of innovation and cutting-edge technology, as successfully fostered by our Swissnexes in Boston and San Francisco. There are already numerous projects in the growth areas of renewable energy and green tech. In 2011 we will build on these efforts, e.g. by promoting exchanges among experts on green building policies, the Swiss system of dual education and on venture capital.

In September 2009, Switzerland and the US concluded a revised double taxation agreement which, most notably, provides for an exchange of tax information in accordance with the OECD standard. Swiss Parliament approved the agreement last summer. It is of utmost importance to investors in both countries that the US follow suit as soon as possible. Ratification of this agreement will lay the groundwork for further improvements of the conditions for Swiss investors in the US and US investors in Switzerland. Around 500 Swiss companies provide jobs to 375,000 Americans today. The potential for expansion hinges in no small measure on a favorable bilateral legal framework.

In early February a delegation of the Swiss “Parliament Association Switzerland-USA” will visit their U.S. counterparts of the congressional “Friends of Switzerland Caucus”. The two delegations will continue their tradition of sharing views on areas of mutual interest, such as Iran, the Middle East, the Balkans, human security, and counter-terrorism.

Yet, the relationship between Switzerland and the US is about more than just business and politics. It is deeply rooted in a mutual appreciation for each other’s culture, people and natural beauty. Last year Americans spent 1.5 million nights in Switzerland – despite the economic downturn and a week Dollar – enjoying pristine landscapes, world-class exhibitions and music festivals, as well as local folklore and art. Close to 400’000 Swiss will have made similar experiences the US.

Before I was a diplomat, I was a tourist (and a “recovering lawyer”). During the eleven years that I, over time, have had the pleasure to live in various parts of the US, I was fortunate to visit many beautiful parks and exciting cities, enjoy countless acts of kindness from strangers and make life-long friends. My wife and I look forward to exploring more of the richness and beauty this country has to offer and meet many more of its wonderful people.

Happy holidays and my best wishes for 2011!

Manuel Sager
Ambassador of Switzerland to the United States

Francophonie Summit in Montreux

Politics & Government Feature Photo Over 200 million people in the world are saying «Joyeuses Fêtes !» (Happy holidays!) these days. Who are they? They are native French speakers from 32 countries where French is an official language.

The French-speaking world is also known as the Francophonie and is organized through the International Organisation of La Francophonie (OIF). OIF represents one of the biggest linguistic zones in the world. Its members share more than just a common language. They also share the humanist values promoted by the French language. The OIF was created in 1970. Its mission is to embody the active solidarity between its 56 member states and 14 observers, which together represent over one-third of the United Nations’ member states and account for over 870 million people, including 200 million French speakers.

Every two years, the OIF holds a Francophonie Summit. From October 22 to 24, the summit was held in Montreux, Switzerland. At the end of the summit, the OIF presented the Montreux Declaration and the resolutions adopted within the framework of the summit. The documents highlight the importance of having a sphere of influence and a trusted forum such as the Francophonie to advance discussions on issues as central as global governance, sustainable development and the role of the French language in a globalized world. The Federal Department of Foreign Affairs (FDFA) is confident that the hospitality shown in Montreux will have a positive influence on Switzerland's image in the Francophonie and that the economic and political impact of the XIIIth Summit will be felt for a long time.

Did you know that . . .
. . . Montreux is very well known for its annual Jazz Festival?
The Montreux Jazz Festival offers festivalgoers a program of outstanding musical diversity and quality that features some exclusive events. With jazz, pop, world beat and rock, it satisfies the tastes of all music fans.

. . . every year Washington, D.C. hosts a festival of the Francophonie? Be sure to save the date for the 2011 festival: March 3 to April 15!


UN Resolution for Increasing Global Efforts toward Women’s Rights

Humanitarian Feature Photo The United Nations Charter not only commits its members to saving succeeding generations from the scourge of war, it also unequivocally reaffirms fundamental human rights and the equal rights of men and women. Despite this strong commitment, the United Nations has taken some time to understand the impact of armed conflict on women and girls and the role of women in conflict resolution and peacebuilding.

The conflicts in the former Yugoslavia and Rwanda led to international criminal tribunals. Those tribunals contributed to a growing understanding of violence against women in armed conflict. Several initiatives followed and finally resulted in United Nations Resolution 1325 on Women, Peace and Security, which was adopted on October 31, 2000, by the UN Security Council.

The resolution has three main thrusts:
• Increasing participation of women in decision-making processes related to peace-building
• The prevention of gender-specific violence and protection of the needs and rights of girls and women during and after violent conflicts
• Integration of a gender-sensitive perspective in all peacebuilding projects and programs

On the 10th anniversary of Resolution 1325, Swiss Ambassador to the UN Paul Seger addressed the Security Council in October of this year to propose that a member state take the lead on the resolution. He stated that the creation of a new department, Office 1325, could help to implement the resolution from within the UN women's agency that was created in July of this year. In the past decade, 23 countries--including Switzerland--developed an action plan to bolster women's rights. The Swiss policy on "gender and peacebuilding" is based on UN Security Council Resolution 1325.

Resolution 1325 also highlighted the role of active involvement and advocacy by women's organizations. One of those organizations is PeaceWomen Across the Globe. "All around the world there are courageous and creative PeaceWomen working for peace, social justice and a secure future, applying a wide range of approaches and methods. Their experience, their knowledge and their connections are united in the organization PeaceWomen Across the Globe,” according to the organization on its website. For the 10th anniversary of Resoultion 1325, the organization presented the multimedia exhibition «No Women–No Peace» with a clear message: Implement Resolution 1325 now! The exhibition, supported by the Swiss Federal Department of Foreign Affairs (FDFA) and the city of Bern, traveled from New York to the Swiss capital, Bern, and was shown in November.

Swiss fire-fighting engagement in Israel successful

Humanitarian Feature PhotoOn December 2, 2010, the Israeli government asked Switzerland for assistance with fire-fighting helicopters and fire-extinguishing materials to deal with the devastating fires in the Carmel mountain range. The widespread fires near Haifa claimed 42 lives and 17,000 people had to be evacuated. In addition, over five million trees were destroyed in an area of approximately 12,355 acres.

On December 3, the Federal Council (Government) assisted Israeli authorities by sending three Cougar helicopters of the Swiss air force. Just a few hours after the decision, an advance detachment was dispatched to Israel. The transfer of the helicopters via Athens went smoothly, as did the integration of the Swiss teams into the international operation. A total of 37 Swiss military and Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation (SDC) personnel were deployed: ten pilots, 13 mechanics, eleven in the operations staff and three employees from the Swiss humanitarian aid unit, who supported and coordinated the operation.

As part of the international assistance program, the three Swiss helicopters were used for fire-fighting flights until the fires were finally brought under control and the operations of the international helpers were concluded. In a ceremony of thanks in Jerusalem, Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu praised the international assistance as an act of solidarity and presented a certificate of thanks to Switzerland.

swissnex: A Success Story for Swiss Diplomacy in Science and Research

The first visit to the U.S. of Federal Councillor Didier Burkhalter in October 2010 marked the 10th anniversary of swissnex, the Swiss embassy for science in the U.S.. A key component of the Swiss strategic policy on the promotion of education, research and innovation set by the Federal Council (Cabinet), swissnex is a success story and has become a role model for diplomacy in the area of science and research. It has a network of science and technology outposts. In the U.S., they are located in Boston and San Francisco, two highly regarded centers of innovation in science, education, and design. The swissnex houses are run by the Swiss State Secretariat for Education and Research (SER) in close cooperation with the Federal Department of Foreign Affairs (FDFA). The program places particular emphasis on the next generation of creative thinkers and leaders through a network that promotes exchanges and the sharing of know-how between Switzerland and the U.S. It generates cooperation in an innovative, inspiring, and rewarding atmosphere.

ThinkSwiss: Switzerland Sponsors Young Talents

Humanitarian Feature PhotoEach year, Switzerland offers 15 research scholarships through its ThinkSwiss program. The program’s aim is to encourage collaboration between Swiss and U.S. students and academics in a variety of fields. Both undergraduates and graduate students are offered a 2-month to 3-month scholarship. The monthly stipend of approximately CHF 1,000 allows students to conduct research at a Swiss public university or research institute. The scholarship is open to outstanding students in all fields with an interest in conducting research in Switzerland. Scholars participate in a blog to share their experiences during their research stay in Switzerland. After their return to the U.S., they will carry out activities as student “ambassadors” to promote Swiss research.

Application deadline is March 31, 2011.

Winterthur: A Model Museum City

Lifestyle Feature Photo Winterthur, a town in the Canton of Zurich, counts 100,000 inhabitants and seventeen museums. Culture has always been held in high regard in Winterthur, and the city is proud of its various museums. The world-famous collections of paintings at the Museum Oskar Reinhart Am Stadtgarten, for instance, include 600 works by painters from the 18th to 20th centuries, from Anker to Hodler, Segantini and Giacometti. From November 27, 2010 to February 27, 2011, the Fotomuseum Winterthur exhibits art work from Mark Morrisroe, an artist from the Boston art world of the early eighties, who’s work has been inspired by the punk movement.

But why does the town have such an impressive number of museums? The museums very often are found in former 19th-century industrial buildings. Pioneers such as Johann Jacob Sulzer, Johann Jacob Rieter, Charles Brown (today’s ABB) built their manufacturing facilities in Winterthur. In the meantime, industrial production has been outsourced to other places to a large extent and the sites-- noteworthy architecture for the most part--were abandoned. Thanks to the artistic sense of the families that founded some of today’s best known industrial companies, the sites have been transformed into museums. Today’s museums bear witness to the fact that the wealthy and influential Winterthur families were devoted not only to accumulating money, power and influence, but also to cultivating the fine arts. Winterthur owes its orchestra and its outstanding art collections largely to those founding families.

Visit Winterthur in New Castle Country, Delaware, United States! Henri Francis du Pont, the founder of DuPont was married to a Swiss woman from Switzerland’s town of Winterthur. The family is not only known for their products in chemicals, but also for their art collection of Americana.

The family built their home in the spirit of 18th- and 19th-century European country houses. Eventually the DuPonts moved to a smaller house and the main building became a public museum in 1951.

Preparing Makes Sense

Probably all of us have heard people sharing their bad-weather experiences on the weather channel. People relate how they survived severe thunderstorms, icy blizzards and sudden floods. Some of them also admit that they wish they had been better prepared. You don't have to have a bad experience yourself to prepare. Of course, we all hope we won't be affected when disaster strikes. But sometimes it just happens. Therefore prepare: get a supply kit, make a plan and then relax. Even though the media reports about out-of-the-ordinary situations on a daily basis, statistically they happen very rarely.

You can find online information on how and what to prepare at the Ready America website, which provides a checklist to download. So get ready, go! www.ready.gov
Embassy of Switzerland in the United States of America
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This newsletter is produced by the Embassy of Switzerland in Washington, DC, at 2900 Cathedral Ave NW, Washington, DC, 20008, in cooperation with our consulates in Atlanta, Chicago, New York, Los Angeles and San Francisco. It is made possible by funding from the Federal Department of Foreign Affairs, Presence Switzerland. Please visit our websites for more information!