Press Releases

    11 September 2002


    "A Peaceful, Multicultural Society Built on Strong Democratic Traditions", He Adds

    NEW YORK, 10 September (UN Headquarters) -- Following is the text of remarks as delivered by Secretary-General Kofi Annan on the raising of the flag of the Swiss Confederation at the United Nations today:

    The Swiss are here. We have been waiting for them a long time.

    There was a very touching moment in the Hall. I don’t think many of you saw it. I had the pleasure of seeing it because I was sitting on the podium. I watched as the Swiss delegation got up from the seats they have shared with the Vatican all these years, saying goodbye to the Vatican, and the Vatican being the only observer State. But I was told Monsignor Martino in his usual diplomatic way said au revoir and not adieu. And I suspect there is a message in that for all of us.

    Today is a day of celebration not only for the Swiss Confederation, but for the entire family of nations. Seeing the Schweizerkreuz flying proudly among the flags of our Member States is a moving sight for all who believe in the values and ideals of the United Nations -- not least for me personally.

    As I have said before, Switzerland is, in many ways, a vivid example of what the United Nations stands for -- a peaceful and multicultural society built on strong democratic traditions.

    A country deeply rooted in history -- from the original union of three cantons founded on 1 August 1291, which created the beginnings of the Swiss Confederation, to your membership of the United Nations today, more than seven centuries later.

    A small country with a large world presence, a home to many humanitarian organizations, a thriving private sector, and the largest United Nations headquarters outside New York.

    A country which has learnt to retain its own traditions and cultures while benefiting from the openness in our globalizing world.

    Long before today, Switzerland has been an active and generous participant in the wider United Nations family. You bring to us invaluable experience and know-how in areas at the forefront of the United Nations agenda.

    From today, your country, as a full Member, enables you to make your voice heard across the full range of our work. And I, for one, very much look forward to hearing it.

    So let me say, to this new Member State of the new Millennium: Bienvenu. Willkommen. Benvenuti. Bainvegni.

    * *** *