The first of August is an important day for Switzerland. It is our National Day! On this joyful occasion, I offer my best wishes and warm greetings to our Bangladeshi friends and fellow Swiss citizens living in this colourful country and abroad. At a time when Bangladesh and Switzerland celebrate the 50th anniversary of our bilateral relations, the Swiss national day gives us even more of an opportunity to celebrate our achievements together.
Indeed, on 13 March 1972, Switzerland officially recognized Bangladesh as an independent and sovereign nation. The golden jubilee celebration this year gives us a unique opportunity to reflect on our collective journey. Our two countries have cultivated and grown a solid, diversified and robust partnership in a whole array of areas over the last decades. This makes me very proud. Our bilateral cooperation began with humanitarian aid in the early 70s when my government and the Swiss population stood firmly by Bangladesh in solidarity at a time of need. Since then, humanitarian support has remained a cornerstone of our cooperation, for instance with a substantial operation and our on-the-ground presence in Cox’s Bazar to respond to the Rohingya refugee crisis. Moreover, development and economic cooperation have with time emerged as solid pillars of our ties as well as effective political and cultural exchanges. All this has nurtured significant goodwill between our countries and people.
Looking ahead, I am thrilled about what the future has in store for us. In the economic sector, we see vast untapped possibilities and remain convinced that closer trade and investment ties would mutually benefit our two countries. Switzerland has a lot to bring to the table when it comes to innovation, quality and know-how. I am convinced that if Swiss excellence in technology can be effectively combined with the fantastic entrepreneurial spirit of Bangladesh, we can make miracles happen together! In terms of development cooperation, our new country programme for 2022-2025 is aligned with the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and Bangladesh’s national priorities. It aims to promote a more prosperous, just and resilient society and a sustainable transition from the Least Developed Countries (LDCs) group. Switzerland will continue to partner with Bangladesh towards a greener future and a society that is inclusive and leaves no one behind. On critical issues, such as climate change, gender equality, human rights and good governance, we want to reinforce our partnership with all stakeholders involved.
While we have numerous milestones to celebrate on the bilateral front, our world is faced with unprecedented challenges. One crisis has collided with the next, with the pandemic, climate change and Russia’s attack on Ukraine. This war has not only brought conflict back to Europe but also made the recovery from the pandemic harder, not only for my continent but for the whole world. Moreover, it has tested our values and beliefs about a rules-based society. This is a test we must not fail. In view of this brutal violation of international law, especially international humanitarian law, Switzerland has strongly condemned the war and adopted the EU's sanctions. For my country, which has a long traced tradition of neutrality, being neutral does not mean being indifferent.
If this conflict has taught us anything, it is the importance of building consensus, standing up for a rules-based order, advocating for global peace and prosperity and stronger multilateralism. In June this year, the UN General Assembly resoundingly elected Switzerland as a non-permanent member of the UN Security Council for 2023-2024. The membership to this important UN body gives us an excellent opportunity to work closely with Bangladesh on critical global peace and security as well as development issues.
Our future is together. The cooperation between Bangladesh and Switzerland over the years has proven that with joint efforts, we can create amazing results. In this spirit, we are looking forward to the next fifty years of our relationship.
I hope that you will enjoy reading this special newspaper supplement. If you want to join us virtually to celebrate our Swiss National Day, please log on to www.missione1agosto.org. There is plenty of fun stuff on this website and many opportunities to get to know my country. I wish you, your family and your friends a happy Swiss National Day!
Nathalie Chuard Ambassador of Switzerland to Bangladesh