"Switzerland is on the move, because we are on the move"
To mark Swiss National Day on 1 August, Federal Councillor Ignazio Cassis, head of the Federal Department of Foreign Affairs, paid a surprise visit to the more than 400 young people at a summer camp at the National Youth Sports Centre in Tenero, Ticino. Mr Cassis expressed his pride and confidence in the young people from all of Switzerland's language regions. Their joy of playing and their urge to be active are a symbol of the joie de vivre of a country that is looking ahead after a long period of lockdown.
Ignazio Cassis visits young athletes at the sports camp in Tenero on the eve of the Swiss National Day and talks to them about their passion. © Keystone
You represent the excitement of a country looking to the future after a long period in lockdown." With these words, Mr Cassis greeted the more than 400 young sportsmen and women who are currently attending a summer camp at the National Youth Sports Centre in Tenero. "After these difficult past few months, during which we have been deprived of important opportunities to come together as you are doing now, I am delighted to be here with you today, on the eve of the 1 August National Day festivities," said Mr Cassis.
During his visit, Mr Cassis watched teams from different sports disciplines train together and was highly impressed by the self-discipline of the young sportspeople from all of Switzerland's language regions. "Knowing we have each other's back when things get tough is extremely important. That's what motivates us when we play a team sport," he said. "In the last few months we've missed the motivation we get from being together, from social contact. We need social contact, this push to keep moving forward. A tough training session is that little bit easier if there's someone there to cheer you on.
Maintaining good relations and exchanges with neighbouring countries
Federal Councillor Ignazio Cassis also talked about the COVID-19 lockdown and isolation period, and stressed the importance of maintaining close relations with neighbouring countries, especially in times of crisis. "Despite the border being partly closed, we were able to maintain the movement of goods and cross-border commuters, in particular medical personnel, and to lend each other assistance, including through the delivery of medical supplies to those who needed them most".
For an export nation like Switzerland, good relations and mutual exchanges were always essential, not only in times of crisis, noted Mr Cassis. "Think of it like pocket money: 20 francs. If Switzerland has an allowance of 20 francs – if this is the Swiss economy – we earn 10 francs of that from other countries. And of these 10 francs, 6 francs come from the EU. In other words, good relations with the other countries of Europe are not only important because we need to stick together, they are also crucial for Switzerland's prosperity. Without them we would have much less money."
Staying active and working hard for the future
Just like young sportsmen and sportswomen who reap the rewards of days of hard work and dedication, Switzerland can and must look ahead. "Working hard today to succeed tomorrow: that's what sport teaches us," said Mr Cassis, recalling the well-known fable of the ants and the grasshopper.
"We must stay active and fit in body and mind to ensure our nation's future well-being. It's thanks to its millions of hard-working people, like the ants of the fable, that Switzerland has been able to tackle the coronavirus crisis. Our country is on the move, because we are on the move. Let's use this drive, this dynamism and this passion, and let's move Switzerland together," concluded Cassis.