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Mr. Secretary-General, Madam,
ladies and gentlemen,
and dear friends of Switzerland and the UN,
It is 75 years since the United Nations first made its home in Switzerland. And, for ten years now, Switzerland has once again felt fully at home in the Palais des Nations. It is therefore with particular pleasure that we welcome you here this evening, pleasure which is even greater for being in the presence of Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon and Mrs Ban, to whom I extend a special welcome.
Earlier on today the Secretary-General received Switzerland’s gift commemorating the tenth anniversary of its membership of the UN. We didn’t want to give a one-off ceremony but something lasting, in this city which is one the world capitals of organisations dedicated to environmental and climatic conservation A sustainable gift. A gift which comes with a sting. But a gift which also brings sweetness.
The Ariana Park is managed in line with sustainable development. We thought it would be good idea if bee colonies could also feel at home here; and, with the lake being so close, I could almost say that they should take to it “like ducks to water”… So now the Swiss beehives are in place in the UN gardens. 500,000 bees will fly here and produce about 700 kilos of honey each year. Each beehive bears an inscription representing a goal shared by Switzerland and the UN: “Peace”. “Human Rights” or “Humanitarian Aid”.
The honey, harvested twice a year, will be offered from the UN and the FDFA as gift to guests. The honey pots will bear the inscription “For a sweeter world” the 6 UN official languages. Every year, the first pot will be given to the country which recommended Switzerland’s admission to the UN ten years ago in front of the Genreal Assembly – France (which I had the pleasure of informing about this “sweet news” last week in Paris)
This sustainable gift was made possible thanks to the commitment of the Lullier Professional Training Centre (which will celebrate its 125th anniversary in 12 days), the Geneva Beekeeping Society and the assistance of UNOG. I warmly thank them.
The beehives should also serve as a reminder of Switzerland’s worldwide engagements: such as its contribution towards projects for sustainable apiculture in Madagascar and Kenya. Also, its contribution through the scientific research of the Agroscope Federal Research Centre, towards developing expertise to fight against the Varroa Destructor parasite which is partly responsible for the current worldwide decline in bee colonies.
Ladies and gentlemen,
It is through many local, de-centralised actions, linking cutting-edge research to rural and local development projects, that we can further the fight to save beekeeping. This symbolises perfectly what Switzerland wishes to achieve within the UN: to help resolve real issues, step by step, by linking our strengths to those of our partners. By tackling these problems at the root and by employing scientific progress and innovation. Associating this project with a training centre for young apprentices is another strong symbol of our commitment to the future.
Ladies and gentlemen, long before the arrival of the “Swiss Apiary” Swiss bees were already foraging the flowers in the Ariana Park. Likewise, Switzerland was already active in the UN before becoming a full member “just” ten years ago following a second popular referendum.
The Swiss government, and we firmly hope, the Swiss people, consider the results of our full and complete membership to be positive. Switzerland’s place within the UN now seems totally natural. To the extent that almost no one can believe that we have been a member for only ten years. Good! We have been able to get involved quickly, whilst respecting and stressing the importance of our foreign policy principles: neutrality, solidarity and accountability.
However, we still have so much to do that we cannot pause to congratulate ourselves on the small progress that has been made for humanity: We cannot freeze the picture, we must keep the camera rolling into the future; we must look at all that remains to be done, the millions of flowers which still need to be visited so that we can make our world truly sweeter and quite simply (even if the task is not so simple…) better.
The state of the world demands it of us. The UN will help us to help the world. It will help us more if we first improve the UN, an institution that we would like to see modernised, lighter and more agile; that we would like to see working entirely towards one ideal: erasing the deep sadness that we can read all too often in the eyes of children trapped in conflict.
As it embarks upon its second decade Switzerland wishes to make institutional reform and human security its priorities. To sum it up in one sentence: so that what is happening in Syria never happens again…
My wife and I are delighted to celebrate this milestone with you. Here in Geneva, the second seat of the United Nations, a situation we are keen to strengthen because we are convinced that Geneva is useful to the world, and even more so if it is soon to be able to welcome the Green Climate Fund.
Ladies and gentlemen,
Victor Hugo once wrote that “life is the flower for which love is the honey”. It is my wish that this gift from the heart of Switzerland be interpreted as the love that this country and its inhabitants have for human rights and for peace.
Thank you for your attention, for your presence and for your friendship. I wish you a good evening!