Chargé Erath Remarks for Independence Day Reception 2017

Independence Day Reception 2017


Representatives of the Swiss federal administration,

Representatives of the Liechtenstein government,

Representatives of the Swiss Armed Forces,

Ladies and Gentlemen,

Thank you all so much for joining us today to celebrate the 241st anniversary of American independence. We are so pleased to welcome guests from the many facets of our engagement with Switzerland and Liechtenstein, exemplifying the breadth of our relationship. If I may, I would like to devote these remarks to celebrating all of you and our partnership.

I want to thank the many people who worked so hard to make this event happen, particularly our co-chairs, Maida Kranjc and Desiree Wappler. I would also like to thank our MC, Public Affairs Officer Stephanie Morimura, whose tour ends this week after three years of outstanding work.

I would like to recognize the American and Swiss companies who contributed to our celebration today. We very much appreciate their generosity. I encourage you all to read their names on the sign board and monitor on the Residence grounds today.

We are most successful when we tackle challenging issues together. All of you here today play important roles, and I would like to take the opportunity to highlight examples of our partnership.

First, I want to welcome the American citizens representing American clubs throughout Switzerland. It is so important for us to reach out to our citizens to hear their concerns, and do what we can to help. When the Embassy needs to get the word out on a relevant issue like voting or banking, you’ve organized meetings and amplified messages. We are grateful for your engagement.

We are also joined today by numerous leaders in the business community, some of whom are from American companies, have American employees in Switzerland or have offices in the United States. We collaborate with these companies, including through the Swiss-American Chamber of Commerce, and the results are outstanding. In addition to the significant amount of foreign investment and trade between our countries, Swiss and Liechtenstein companies employ nearly a half million workers across the United States. Swiss companies are also expanding their apprenticeship programs in the United States, to the benefit of our workforce, our states, and our business community.

Educational exchange is another component that connects our countries; I welcome the teachers and professors that have joined us today. We are grateful for their invitations to talk with young people in schools about the United States, the work an Embassy does, and U.S. foreign policy. Every year we send students and cultural exchange participants to the United States, as well as scholars to Switzerland, because we believe these exchanges play a crucial role in fostering innovation and creating lasting connections. In fact, an American Fulbright scholar will spend the next four weeks helping emergency room doctors in Switzerland mitigate mental health issues among refugees.

Innovation, and research and development, are common strengths that underpin our prosperity. Thank you to the academic and research institute leaders here today for fostering collaboration spanning from Zurich to Basel to Lausanne and from Massachusetts to California. It is through these programs that we move ideas forward and transform them into action.

Our relationship is also strengthened by the journalists who follow our work. We appreciate your challenging questions and the professional, high quality reporting that Swiss, Liechtensteiners, and Americans alike depend on.

At Embassy Bern, we especially value our interactions with civil society – the religious, non-profit and community leaders who build social cohesion. Whether your organization leads campaigns to increase acceptance of LGBTI people, furthers workforce integration for asylum seekers, or arranges interfaith dialogues, we recognize that governments alone can’t do everything. We partner with you on issues we believe in, because we can accomplish so much more when we act together.

Of course, our government counterparts are crucial partners in our efforts to address international challenges, from rule of law to global prosperity. We depend on our partnerships at the municipal, cantonal, and federal levels, from military to military engagements, to law enforcement, to those working to fight terror financing. Bern is the first city in Switzerland to join the international Strong Cities Network to collaborate with others around the world on effectively preventing violent extremism. The Swiss federal government partnered with us in February to set up the Global Entry program for Swiss citizens, which facilitates frequent travel to the United States. Our partnership with Switzerland and Liechtenstein extends outside our borders, for example to the UN where we have cooperated in support of human rights. We have jointly contributed humanitarian aid and demining assistance, as well. We thank you for your partnership.

I also thank our colleagues in the diplomatic community, with whom we often coordinate on common goals. We are all so fortunate that our jobs as diplomats, which take us and our families all around the world, have brought us together here in this wonderful country.

And last but definitely not least, I want to recognize all our own American and local Embassy employees. Without you, our strong and dedicated team, nothing would be possible. I am grateful for you all every day – you are the glue, the engine, and the wings that make our efforts soar.

Thank you all for being fundamental partners in our relationship with Switzerland and Liechtenstein. We appreciate all of you as leaders, thinkers, and doers. I am so pleased that today’s event provides an opportunity for our guests to make new connections and perhaps even discover new areas for collaboration. We truly value our friendship with Switzerland and with Liechtenstein. We will continue to strengthen these ties in the years to come.

I encourage everyone to eat, drink, and enjoy the music and company as we celebrate Independence Day. Thank you.

To see our photo album of the Independence Day reception, follow the link here.