Ambassador Linus von Castelmur of Switzerland and Mrs. Francoise Gardies hosted a reception at the new Embassy of Switzerland in Seoul on October 19, 2018 in celebration of the pre-opening and National Day of Switzerland.
The party was attended by Korean and international guests, as well as the ambassadors and other senior members of the Seoul Diplomatic Corps with their spouses.
Among the guests in attendance were Vice Minister Cho Hyun from Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Ambassadors Eero Suominen of Finland, Daul Matute-Mejia of Peru, Sripriya Ranganathan of India, Chafik Rachadi of Morocco, Bruno Figueroa Fischer of Mexico, Albino Malungo of Angola, Zoran Kazazovic of Serbia, Irineo Raul Silvero Silvagni.
Excerpts from the speech of Ambassador Linus von Castelmur:
On this beautiful autumn day, I extend a very warm welcome to all of you to the Swiss national day 2018 celebration and the pre-opening of the new “Swiss house” in Seoul!
The building before (or behind) you is a modern Swiss interpretation of a Korean “Hanok”, open to the courtyard and closed to the outside, in this contemporary version a symphony of concrete, wood and glass. The state of the art construction is both human-centered and environment friendly: it features advanced technology like geothermal energy pumps for heating and cooling, rain water harvesting and solar power generation to name only a few, thus strongly reducing the ecological footprint.
Ladies and gentlemen, this building is a powerful symbol of our longstanding friendship with the Republic of Korea and of our genuine wish to further expand our excellent and mutually beneficial relations in all fields.
Switzerland is witnessing with great sympathy and relief the détente process initiated by the two Koreas, the US, other regional powers and the wider international community. As a proud member of NNSC since 1953 and thus a stakeholder in this region, my country is convinced that there cannot be a military solution to the problem. Only a dual track approach of open dialogue and pressure on the basis of UNSC resolutions can lead to the goal of a peaceful, prosperous and denuclearized Korean peninsula.
My speech today will be short, after all you want to talk to friends and make new acquaintances – I shall only mention three fields of bilateral cooperation:
Trade and investment: In 2017, our bilateral trade has reached the four billion USD mark, a strong performance for two mid-sized countries located geographically far apart. The FTA is working fine, but there is potential for increasing our exchanges. The Swiss government stands ready to up-date the FTA and to work with Korea practically in order to further expand our trade.
Science and technology is another example of growing cooperation between our two countries. Health, life sciences, mechanical engineering, nanotechnologies and lately fintech have become fields of cooperation between Swiss and Korean universities and private enterprises including start-ups. It’s encouraging to see that more and more Korean enterprises are investing in R+D centers in Switzerland.
Cultural cooperation is intense as well: many Korean musicians of talent are members of Swiss orchestras and, in return, Swiss musicians are invited to perform regularly in Korea. Through residence programmes Korean and Swiss artists discover the art scenes of the other country and develop friendships and working relations. Korean galleries are selling works of Korean and international artists at the world’s most famous art fair Art Basel in Basel, Miami and Hong Kong.
Ladies and gentlemen, in 2018 and 2019 our embassy celebrates Swiss Excellence and Innovation in Korea under the theme “Switzerland – pushing the limits”. We have developed a dense and diversified programme with exhibitions, conferences, performances and other events in Korea culminating around the opening of our new embassy.
So be reminded: this event is only a “teaser”, the official inauguration of the new embassy building will take place in May 2019.
In concluding let me express my gratitude to friends and partners making this event possible:
Vice Minister Cho from MOFA;
Swiss and Korean enterprises partnering our “Pushing the limits” programme; all of you for joining us in high spirits; and last but not least my embassy staff who has worked hard to organize this event.