Having recently posted the New Year Messages of Cameron, MilibandE, Clegg and Farage it seems appropriate to post one that has a slightly different outlook where his country is concerned, namely that of Swiss President Ueli Maurer. Rather than what might be called a pompous address, he simply answers a few questions.
On national solidarity:
“There are many different interests represented in this country, but we are all citizens of the same Switzerland at the end of the day. We have to strengthen this togetherness; we also have a lot more that connects us than that separates us.”
On bi-lateral accords:
“I think the bilateral approach is the only way. We have to take time for ourselves to pursue this bilateral approach and shouldn’t allow ourselves to be pressured. The closer the relationship to the EU, the more care has to be taken in examining the accords. In my opinion we have never been under such great time pressure that we have had to rush something through. The most important motto for me is to retain as much freedom to negotiate as possible. I don’t think I am fundamentally different from my cabinet colleagues in this respect, because nobody wants to join the EU. They all want good agreements for Switzerland. Perhaps I have a slightly more blunt opinion. But there is no basic difference between the stance of the government and the political majority in the country.”
On the wish of the EU to redefine the relationship with Switzerland:
“No. In the economy, the strongest will prevail. The EU’s interests in Switzerland are just as concrete as the other way round. Imagine, purely theoretically, that the EU would limit access to its market and that we, in response would impose limitations in the area of transport. That wouldn’t work. Those are merely hypothetical games. We are closely tied to one another and continually have to find common solutions and we will do so.”
The difference in tone twixt Ueli Maurer and the ‘UK Four’ is marked – and why? Because Maurer knows and accepts that power does not rest with him – it rests with the people.