This year Switzerland celebrated the 175th anniversary of its federal constitution and the values which have united and shaped its modern democracy. In the UK, this year has also been historic with the coronation of His Majesty King Charles III.
For me, it has been an honour and privilege to take up my responsibilities as Ambassador to Switzerland and Liechtenstein. We are two like-minded countries with different but deeply rooted democratic systems. Now more than ever, the UK-Swiss relationship matters – based on our shared values and mutual trust.
Since my arrival in January, I have been very grateful for the warm welcome I have received, including from the British community. I have had the opportunity and pleasure to meet many of you including at your AGM in June as well as our Embassy’s Coronation and King’s Birthday Party events. I was moved by the Coronation events hosted by the BRA Regions.
2023 saw further steps forward in deepening UK–Swiss bilateral relations, including by launching our negotiations for a modernised Free Trade Agreement. I am grateful for the BRA’s contributions in the areas of business, investment, science and innovation, culture, and policy, to name but a few! Our people-to-people links are invaluable.
On a personal note, I have always found Christmas to be a special time of year. The Gospel writer Matthew puts it like this:
“the people living in darkness
have seen a great light,
and for those living in the land of the shadow of death,
on them a light has dawned.” (Matthew 4:16)
Perhaps the reason this speaks to me is because the theme of “light in the darkness” is prominent in the biblical understanding of Jesus Christ’s birth and in the way we celebrate Christmas today. But, I think, also because the Bible speaks about light dawning upon the world. Both realistic (reflecting the darkness in the world) and hopeful (salvation has come).
I see a similar spirit of realism and hope in how the UK-Switzerland relationship is developing as we tackle shared challenges together. In doing so, I look forward to further strengthening the Embassy’s partnership with the BRA next year.
I also look forward to enjoying my first ‘Swiss Christmas’ with my family! I hope that you will be able to spend some precious time with your loved ones too.
Merry Christmas and best wishes for 2024.
His Majesty’s Ambassador James Squire.