“Movement is freedom”
Ignazio Cassis takes the opportunity of the national holiday to discover the beauty of Switzerland. In an interview with Sonntagsblick, he tells of his experience regarding the awareness of the Swiss public during a global pandemic, why movement and passion are important for our country, and why a good relationship with European countries is particularly precious in uncertain times.
In an interview with Sonntagsblick, Ignazio Cassis talks about COVID-19, the urge to be active and why good relationships need to be protected. © FDFA
At the beginning of the corona pandemic in Switzerland, all eyes were on Ticino. The home canton of Federal Councillor Ignazio Cassis was hit particularly hard, and that at a time when many in the rest of Switzerland were not yet able to imagine how much the new corona virus would affect them.
Today we know that COVID-19 is a global crisis, a crisis that knows no borders – neither cantonal nor national borders, nor a crisis that will be part of our everyday life for a long time to come. “Ticino was severely affected by the pandemic. This led to a heightened awareness among the public. Now that the number of infections is rising again, they remain comparatively low here because people have adapted their behaviour,” concludes Ignazio Cassis.
Despite adapted behaviour and a high level of awareness, the coronavirus has an influence on our everyday life, on our social life and our social exchange. Especially on a day like August 1 – a day we like to celebrate with friends.
Moreover, of course to the summer holidays – a time when Swiss people regularly go out and discover the world. “For me, the first of August 2020 stands for the rediscovery of our own country. The Swiss travel around their homeland and discover wonderful regions. Because we can't travel far, we realize what a wonderful country we live in,” says the Federal Councillor.
Likewise, Ignazio Cassis used the summer time to discover Switzerland on foot, to explore new regions and to enjoy nature. On August 1, the head of the Federal Department of Foreign Affairs (FDFA) also paid a surprise visit to over 400 young people at the National Sports Centre in Tenero.
It was a great pleasure – for sportsmen and women as well as for the Federal Councillor, who was delighted to see the enthusiasm and passion of the young people. “Movement means freedom and, in the case of these athletes, also performance and preparation. In Ticino, we tell the fable of the ant and the grasshopper: the ant takes care of itself in summer; the grasshopper basks in the grass and then suffers in winter. For me, these young people stand for the ant and its performance – and thus in a certain sense for the success of Switzerland”.
However, for the Federal Councillor, the young people are not only a role model because of their physical performance, but also because of their solidarity. Especially in difficult times, one realizes how important good relationships are. As Foreign Minister, he had experienced this himself during the COVID 19 period and had greatly appreciated the exchange with neighbouring countries despite the difficult circumstances. “Fortunately, the borders were never completely closed. The whole of Switzerland and especially we in Ticino felt how difficult it is when border traffic is suddenly restricted to such an extent. The pandemic has shown how important freedom of movement is for our society and our economy”.
Especially in view of the referendum on 27 September on the Limitation Initiative (BGI), he said, one had to think carefully about whether one wanted to jeopardise bilateral relations with European states. “The world is becoming less secure. And in an increasingly complicated and insecure world, Switzerland cannot really afford an unregulated relationship with the EU, with which it has not only first-class economic relations but also important, shared fundamental values”.