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What unites Belarus and Switzerland?

Let's start with today's event. A monument to a native of Belarus Tadeusz Kosciuszko was opened in Switzerland. The event is not of a global scale, but... it depends on how you look at it.

It is believed that Kosciuszko is the most famous Belarusian in the world by origin. The geography of his life is impressive: he was born near the present Brest, he is the national hero of Belarus, Poland and the USA, an honorary French citizen, he was also imprisoned in the Peter and Paul Fortress in Russia and died in Switzerland.

Many countries honor the services of Kosciuszko. This is a common thing - the way of heroes and outstanding personalities ran through different lands and the monuments not only of Kosciusko, but also Skaryna and Mickiewicz are installed in different parts of the world, streets and geographical objects are named after them. For example, the highest mountain in Australia is named after Kosciuszko (we conquered it and described it in the Picture of the World).

So a monument to Tadeusz Kościuszko was erected in the Swiss city of Solothurn on the initiative of the Belarusian diaspora and the funds collected by the Belarusians of that country. There were disputes over the plate in the Belarusian language since Poland was quite jealous of this.

I have already spoken about the multinationality of heroes and the fact that they may belong to different countries, but, whatever one may say, Kosciuszko is the son of Belarus, although his remains are in Krakow, his heart is stored in Warsaw... Some of his internal organs are buried in a cemetery near Solothurn in Switzerland, too. His body was "disassembled" are parts of it are stored in different parts of the world like the relics of saints. This is the fate of extraordinary people.

Elena Sapega, Swiss citizen:
We did not learn about him in school, of course, I found out later. We were in the Solothurn museum and learned about him. There was an idea to put him a monument.

The streets of this ancient Swiss city remember Kosciuszko already at an old age - a simple and very generous man. He helped the poor with money. After 200 years Tadeusz Kosciuszko again appeared on the streets of Solothurn. Cast in bronze, in full growth (which is 1 meter 81 centimeters), in military uniform and with orders on his chest - at the peak of his career.

Alexander Sapega, deputy chairman of the Association of Belarusians in Switzerland:
Let's omit all of these historical moments over whether someone is some country's citizen. The fact is that he is the national hero of Belarus, officially. And we have the right, like Poles, like Americans, to honor the memory of the hero. This is why we are putting a monument to him.

Pavel Latushko, Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of Belarus to the France, Permanent Representative of the Republic of Belarus to UNESCO:
Kosciuszko is honored in France. He is an honorary citizen of that country. When I was Ambassador of Belarus to Poland I saw that he is also honored in Poland. But we, Belarusians should be proud that such a prominent figure born on our Belarusian land. It is very important that today the Belarusian diaspora with the support of Belarusian diplomats, honored Tadeusz Kościuszko. Thanks to this, he will become more famous in the world.

The director of the Belarusian museum of Tadeusz Kościuszko hopes that the opening of the monument will make Belarus more famous.

Irina Antipenko, director of the memorial museum-estate of Tadeusz Kosciuszko (Kossovo):
Thanks to the painstaking work of scientists from all over the world, over 500 publications have been written in Belarusian, Russian, Polish, French, German and English.

Mayor of this small Swiss town Kurt Fluri thinks that now relations between Solothurn and Belarus will now be closer. He without hesitation supported the initiative of the Belarusians to honor the memory of their hero Kosciuszko.

Kurt Fluri, Mayor of Solothurn (Switzerland):
Kosciuszko is very important for Switzerland, and for Solothurn in particular. His close friends lived here, to which he moved in his old age. I think the monument will cause great interest, and already on Monday morning there will be photos in the newspapers and people will go to see. And, of course, they will want to know more about Belarus. Moreover, your country is now open to tourists.

The tourist potential of Belarus is very high. Claude Altermatt says this with full confidence, although his diplomatic service in Belarus began only a month ago.

Claude Altermatt, head of the branch of the Embassy of the Swiss Confederation in Minsk:
You see, Switzerland, too, was not very developed in terms of tourism, but became one of the most popular destinations among foreigners. In Switzerland, tourism began from the mountains. You should start from the city - from the big city of Minsk. It really is developed, there is something to see and where to go.

The next step in the development of tourism should be nature, especially in summer: forests and lakes... They are wonderful.

Alexander Sapega, deputy chairman of the Association of Belarusians of Switzerland:
There are people who leave the country, but do not leave their roots, remember their history, traditions, and always wait for the dream to once again return to their homeland. I am such a person. It is sometimes difficult to choose a side, especially in sporting events. Either we are rooting for the Swiss, or are we rooting for Belarusians. Of course, we are sincerely happy for our victories.

Belarus is often called Eastern European Switzerland. We do have a lot in common: starting from small size and reputation of "peace grounds", striving for neutrality in any issues, and ending with a love for sports and chocolate.

The Swiss are rightfully considered experts in "sweet" questions.

We brought chocolate from Minsk with us - there is no sugar in it, only stevia!

Kira Fonarx, seller in a chocolate boutique (Switzerland):
I'll try it! It is not very sweet, but tasty! Although I do not like bitter chocolate, but I like it! He looks like this one.

Seller (Switzerland):
How many percent of chocolate is here? 70%? It is very cool! Just like in ours. Ours is more creamy but I think Swiss would love it!

Swiss giant Stadler opened production in Belarus several years ago. Legendary Swiss watch mechanisms are now the heart of Belarusian Luch watches.

Pavel Matsukevich, Charge d'Affaires of the Republic of Belarus in the Swiss Confederation:
Today, nothing prevents us from developing relations in any sphere: either in politics, or in the economy, or in the humanitarian sphere. Fortunately, the period of sanctions is behind and the only thing that can hold us back is Swiss caution and, maybe, Belarusian modesty.

This year the Belarusian export feels very cozy in Switzerland: about 15 million US dollars - this is about 130 commodity items.

The Swiss market is largely closed and pretentious. The value of the product does not matter. What does matter is quality. The goods that are able to overcome the Swiss Alps can be considered the best in the world.

Alena Syrova, correspondent:
By the way, one more Swiss feature. There is still no official capital here. At one time, Zurich, Geneva, Lucerne and Bern fought for the title of the main city of the country. The smallest of the aforementioned ones won. Perhaps the secret of Bern's success lies in the fact that the parliament is located here, which means this may be considered the center of the political life of the country.

Bern's symbol is a bear! A few of them live in the center of the city and feel in complete safety. Numerous police officers are on duty here.

In general, Switzerland is considered one of the safest countries in the world, and the Swiss do not like to lose this feeling.

Businessman Franz says that there is a similar atmosphere in Belarus, which is why he likes to come to Belarus and cooperate with Belarusian producers.

Franz, businessman (Switzerland):
I brought butter from Belarus to Switzerland for examination and I can say that the quality is as high as ours. But the features of the Swiss market are such that we protect our producers and do not import oil. But I work with other countries, and your products easily find a place in the shops of third countries. Belarus has very good technologies for the development of the meat and dairy industry, I personally saw this. You can do much more, just do not stand still.

The potential in the humanitarian sphere is unlimited. More than 30% of all free aid to Belarus comes from Switzerland.

Walter Frey, chairman of the Ittingen-Dobrush charitable foundation (Switzerland):
It's not just help, it's more. We come to Belarus and feel at home. We help hospitals, public organizations and sick children financially. Especially in the territories affected by the accident in Chernobyl.

Verena Frey, representative of the Ittingen-Dobrush Charitable Foundation (Switzerland):
We bring children here, to Switzerland, for recuperation, they walk in the mountains. We like to help. And we really like people in your country, they are kinder than the Swiss, they are more humane, if you will. You have a very large potential, and I think that over time Belarus will become even more successful.

The calendar speaks more vividly about the prospects in this case: in the near future a number of bilateral meetings, including inter-parliamentary ones, are planned between Belarus and Switzerland.

Alena Syrova:
At the heart of economic and political relations are cultural relations - as an opportunity to learn history and appreciate each other's worth. Today, perhaps, we have a new cultural reference point in the Belarusian-Swiss relations.

Claude Altermatt:
Despite the fact that Kosciuszko is not a hero of our country, but since Switzerland is in the heart of Central Europe, this is certainly a significant event.

What do Belarus and Switzerland have in common?