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Switzerland named among biggest losers in expat survey

Swissinfo EN - Thu, 09/06/2018 - 09:00
Switzerland is now the 44th best country to live as an expat, sandwiched between Ireland and Hungary, according to an annual survey which highlights the challenges and cold realities of life in the Alpine nation.  Let’s start with the good news. In the InterNations Expat Survey 2018, published on Thursday, Switzerland once again did particularly well in political stability (2nd out of 68 countries), quality of environment (3rd), travel opportunities and transportation infrastructure (4th), children’s safety (5th), peacefulness (6th) and personal safety (9th).  The bad news is that the impressions of expats living in Switzerland have worsened across all five indices: quality of life, ease of settling in, working abroad, family life and personal finance.  + Who is an expat? Searching for a definition “Switzerland has lost 40 places over the past five years. That’s a big decline,” admits Malte Zeeck, the German founder and co-CEO of InterNations. “I think the biggest reason is the ...
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Syrian civil society meets in Geneva to discuss peace

Swissinfo EN - Wed, 09/05/2018 - 17:46
With Syria’s war still raging and official peace talks at an impasse, a quiet peace initiative is continuing in Geneva. The Civil Society Support Room, backed by the Swiss and other governments, is seen as a new approach to UN peace and mediation processes.  Room I in the Palais des Nations in Geneva can take up to 71 people. It is wood-panelled, with large tables arranged in a square. The chairs are set so close together that you almost touch your neighbours.    It is here that people like Syrian journalist Belal and peace activist Asma (not her real name) meet at the invitation of the UN to talk for a few days about their country’s future. “We want to strengthen the role of civil society as a bridge-builder,” says Salvatore Pedulla, a senior official at the Office of the UN Special Envoy for Syria (OSE). He says one of the main aims is “to get the Syrian parties that are negotiating in Geneva and the broader international community to hear civil society’s voices and ...
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Swiss-EU relations are at a ‘dead end’

Swissinfo EN - Wed, 09/05/2018 - 17:00
​​​​​​​ German journalist Steffen Klatt takes a sober look at the state of relations between Brussels and Bern in his new book “Blind im Wandel. Ein Nationalstaat in der Sackgasse” (“Blind to change. A nation state at a dead end.”)  swissinfo.ch: Since 2014, Bern and Brussels have been in talks to formalise relations, now covered by around 100 separate accords. Do we really need the so-called institutional framework agreement under discussion?  Steffen Klatt: Switzerland has reached a dead end, whether the framework agreement is successful or not. Switzerland doesn’t want to belong to the EU, but it wants to take part in the European single market. It has to abide by the rules that apply, but it has no voice in shaping these rules. This problem is now 30 years old.  In 1989, when European Commission President Jacques Delors proposed establishing a European Economic Area (EEA), he conceded that EEA countries could also participate in shaping the rules. Switzerland went into the ...
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The Swiss valley turned into an artists' playground

Swissinfo EN - Wed, 09/05/2018 - 17:00
Swiss and international artists have transformed the landscape along the length of a valley in southeastern Switzerland. For a second time, this corner of Switzerland has become a canvas for the 'Safiental Art Biennale'. Here is a selection of the artwork. 1. Pulpit in the pines (Bergkanzel by Com&Com) The Bergkanzel (Mountain Pulpit), allows different views down into the valley, as it did in its last visit to the 2016 Safiental (Safien valley) Art Biennale. It is perched above the River Rabiusa, 25 km north in an old quarry. A footbridge at the rear of the construction leads the way. The Swiss artists who created the work, started collaborating in 1997. Marcus Gossolt and Johannes M. Hedinger live and work in Zurich, St Gallen and London. 2. Silver and stones (Safiental-Karrette by H.R. Fricker) H.R. Fricker's work is composed of 16 stones. They were removed from their natural habitat in the Safien valley and have taken on a new life indoors, transformed into placemats ...
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Geneva’s property shortage continues to fuel exodus

Swissinfo EN - Wed, 09/05/2018 - 15:14
Despite the construction of thousands of new homes in Geneva, the lack of property for sale continues to lead to an exodus of people to neighbouring canton Vaud and France. This has negative consequences for the local economy and transport, a Credit Suisse study reveals.   With its high salaries and standard of living, Geneva is a victim of its own success and every year attracts thousands of people to live and work. But finding a place to live can be a headache. Few people – 18.5% of residents, half the national average of 38.2% – own their homes in Geneva; the rest rent.  The tiny canton at the western end of Lake Geneva, surrounded on almost all sides by France, has always suffered from an acute housing shortage – places to rent and buy – with demand far outstripping supply. And according to a recent survey by Credit Suisse, the situation is not getting any better, especially in the “affordable” housing-to-buy segment, and it has unwelcome consequences.  The report states ...
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A seat at Switzerland's table

Swissinfo EN - Wed, 09/05/2018 - 11:00
When cooking and sharing food is part of fitting into Swiss life.
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Delicate dance between Swiss multinationals and Trump

Swissinfo EN - Tue, 09/04/2018 - 17:00
You asked. We answered. swissinfo.ch reader Rob Benz asked us what multinational companies in Switzerland think of Trump. The answer: it’s complicated. Swiss companies are uncomfortable with US President Trump’s brash style, but they aren’t so quick to dismiss his policy aims, especially on trade. In 2016, swissinfo.ch reported that the election of Donald Trump and his protectionist rhetoric caused some unease among Swiss companies. Martin Naville, chief executive of the Swiss-American Chamber of Commerce, told swissinfo.ch at the time, “the election result is certainly not good news for Swiss business…If the US starts to adopt a protectionist trade strategy, Switzerland would certainly feel the knock-on effects and suffer damage”. Fast forward two years and much of Trump’s rhetoric has become reality. The Trans-Pacific Partnership is defunct, the US trade dispute with China is escalating by the month, and negotiations on the North American Free Trade Agreement is pitting ...
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Google: 20 years of media and advertising disruption

Swissinfo EN - Tue, 09/04/2018 - 13:18
As Google celebrates its 20th birthday, Swiss public television, SRF, asked various experts how the company has influenced the media and advertising landscape in Switzerland. Google has not only changed the world but also transformed the Swiss advertising market. Traditional billboard advertising is still going strong in the country. Sales of outdoor advertising have increased slightly in Switzerland over the past ten years, from CHF418 million ($430 million) in 2008 to CHF452 million in 2017. However, as one of the biggest players in advertising, Google has had a significant impact on major media organisations. Swiss media’s advertising sales dropped from CHF2.4 billion in 2008 to CHF1.1 billion in 2017. Media organisations have had to adjust to the role of digital advertising. Marc Walder, CEO of Ringier, one of the largest media groups in Switzerland, said that around 70% of the company’s sales and revenue now come from things that have nothing to do with journalism but are ...
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Shared bikes, vandalism, and public space in Bern

Swissinfo EN - Tue, 09/04/2018 - 11:00
Bern has seen an explosion in the number of cyclists on its streets in recent years – an increase actively encouraged by city authorities, but not by everyone. Bernese commuters, who according to one recent estimate are forced to endure the world’s lowest average daily travel time (21 minutes), woke this June to find another form of transport conjured for their disposal. Almost overnight, 70 PubliBike stations had sprung up like metal bushes throughout the city’s neighbourhoods; at each one, a dozen or so chic-looking, matte-black, compact-framed bikes – about half of them electric, the other half normal, i.e. human-powered. And this is only the beginning. The plan, says Michael Liebi of the city’s transport department, is to expand the network towards a peak of 2,400 bikes in 2020, at which point Switzerland’s fifth-largest city – where public transport on average never leaves you more than 300 metres from the next stop – will boast the country’s biggest bike-sharing system.
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Credit Suisse sackings offer hopeful example on sexual misconduct

Swissinfo EN - Tue, 09/04/2018 - 10:19
Back in the spring, Credit Suisse boss Tidjane Thiam wrote an emollient letter to a former employee who had complained of a sexual assault by a manager. He pledged to investigate CS’s handling of the 2010 incident, and put the bank’s most senior woman in charge of the probe. It had been several years since the complainant left CS, and ceased her campaign to have the bank take action against the manager. But she revived her original allegation amid the #MeToo anti-sexism movement. The Financial Times report of the news met cynicism in some quarters. Might Mr Thiam, a smooth financier who joined CS five years after the alleged assault took place, simply be currying good PR? Would anything really come of the inquiry? As the months dragged on, it began to look as if the promised “thorough review” was indeed hot air. Over the summer, though, the cynics were silenced when it emerged that the manager accused of assault had been sacked, along with another executive who was found to have ...
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New Balthus retrospective and unfinished works

Swissinfo EN - Tue, 09/04/2018 - 08:00
The Fondation Beyeler in Basel is holding a retrospective exhibition of work by the controversial French artist Balthasar Klossowski de Rola (1908–2001), known as Balthus. A collection of unfinished Balthus works are also currently on show in Lausanne.  The Balthus retrospective, which opened at the Fondation Beyeler on September 2, mixes young girls and cats, meditation and reality, eroticism and innocence, the familiar and the unusual. It features 40 paintings from the United States, France and Switzerland. The show is the first exhibition of Balthus’s art in a Swiss museum since 2008 and the first comprehensive presentation of his work anywhere in German-speaking Switzerland. The Basel exhibition features a Balthus painting which has been the source of recent controversy. Last December, a #MeToo activist launched an online petition against the painting “Thérèse rêvant” [Thérèse dreaming], which shows a young girl relaxing on a chair with her leg up. The activist accused the ...
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'You know what - I've climbed Everest!'

Swissinfo EN - Mon, 09/03/2018 - 17:00
Many people change their professions when they move to Switzerland from another country. It can be because their qualifications are not recognised, or because it’s a good moment to try something new. Billi Bierling was a translator in London, but now she's a humanitarian aid worker. Billi used to work as a radio journalist, but after redundancy in 2004 she moved to Nepal's capital, Kathmandu to work as an assistant to the 'Himalayan chronicler' Elizabeth Hawley. When Hawley passed away in January 2018, Billi took over running the Himalayan Database. When the climbing season is over, Billi returns to Bern to work for Swiss Humanitarian Aid (SHA), the humanitarian arm of the Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation, part of the Swiss government. She moderates at their annual conferences, and provides media support in hotspots around the world, as a member of the SHA pool of experts.  Billi became the first German woman to successfully climb Mount Everest on the south route ...
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'You know what - I've climbed Everest!'

Swissinfo EN - Mon, 09/03/2018 - 17:00
Many people change their professions when they move to Switzerland from another country. It can be because their qualifications are not recognised, or because it’s a good moment to try something new. Billi Bierling was a translator in London, but now she's a humanitarian aid worker. Billi used to work as a radio journalist, but after redundancy in 2004 she moved to Nepal's capital, Kathmandu to work as an assistant to the 'Himalayan chronicler' Elizabeth Hawley. When Hawley passed away in January 2018, Billi took over running the Himalayan Database. When the climbing season is over, Billi returns to Bern to work for Swiss Humanitarian Aid (SHA), the humanitarian arm of the Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation, part of the Swiss government. She moderates at their annual conferences, and provides media support in hotspots around the world, as a member of the SHA pool of experts.  Billi became the first German woman to successfully climb Mount Everest on the south route ...
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An Alpine village on the frontline of climate change

Swissinfo EN - Mon, 09/03/2018 - 11:00
Guttannen is a small and rustic village up in the Swiss Alps that exudes serenity. But this tranquil idyll is threatened by an unstable mountain mass right above it and natural disasters. How can its inhabitants mitigate the dangers of climate change? Traditional wooden houses with red geraniums in the window boxes, a fountain with fresh water gushing out of it, grazing cows and a river coming right down from the glaciers of the Bernese Alps: Guttannen, on the road to the Grimsel Pass, is one of those typical Swiss picture-perfect, postcard villages. "It’s a dream village", says Jörg Häberle, a geologist with the forestry department of canton Bern. But the dream could change into a nightmare. "The danger comes from up above", he says, pointing to the 3,000-metre mountaintops that loom over the village. "I've never seen anything like it." An expert on natural hazards, Häberle recalls all the disasters that have hit the area. In particular, the 1999 avalanche that just ...
Categories: News EN

An Alpine village on the frontline of climate change

Swissinfo EN - Mon, 09/03/2018 - 11:00
Guttannen is a small and rustic village up in the Swiss Alps that exudes serenity. But this tranquil idyll is threatened by an unstable mountain mass right above it and natural disasters. How can its inhabitants mitigate the dangers of climate change? Traditional wooden houses with red geraniums in the window boxes, a fountain with fresh water gushing out of it, grazing cows and a river coming right down from the glaciers of the Bernese Alps: Guttannen, on the road to the Grimsel Pass, is one of those typical Swiss picture-perfect, postcard villages. "It’s a dream village", says Jörg Häberle, a geologist with the forestry department of canton Bern. But the dream could change into a nightmare. "The danger comes from up above", he says, pointing to the 3,000-metre mountaintops that loom over the village. "I've never seen anything like it." An expert on natural hazards, Häberle recalls all the disasters that have hit the area. In particular, the 1999 avalanche that just ...
Categories: News EN

Engineer first, future later

Swissinfo EN - Mon, 09/03/2018 - 09:24
From aerospace engineering to working in bank to studying statistics in Switzerland: Devendra is open to new possibilities.  While growing up, like most of the Indians my age, I was introduced to only two professional possibilities: medicine and engineering. As I was a lot better at mathematics than biology, engineering seemed like a good choice. Aerospace engineering seemed like a good match, as I wanted to serve my country by working for public sector defence firms like DRDO or HAL. I ended up doing my bachelor’s degree in aerospace engineering at the Indian Institute of Technology (IIT) Madras.  However, guidance from peers and others at university made me aware of a range of opportunities in other fields like finance and machine learning.  Like many of my counterparts, I switched fields and started my career as a business analyst for a bank in Mumbai. For my generation, i.e. kids who grew up in 90’s, it was quite typical to become engineer first and decide about the future ...
Categories: News EN

Engineer first, future later

Swissinfo EN - Mon, 09/03/2018 - 09:24
From aerospace engineering to working in bank to studying statistics in Switzerland: Devendra is open to new possibilities.  While growing up, like most of the Indians my age, I was introduced to only two professional possibilities: medicine and engineering. As I was a lot better at mathematics than biology, engineering seemed like a good choice. Aerospace engineering seemed like a good match, as I wanted to serve my country by working for public sector defence firms like DRDO or HAL. I ended up doing my bachelor’s degree in aerospace engineering at the Indian Institute of Technology (IIT) Madras.  However, guidance from peers and others at university made me aware of a range of opportunities in other fields like finance and machine learning.  Like many of my counterparts, I switched fields and started my career as a business analyst for a bank in Mumbai. For my generation, i.e. kids who grew up in 90’s, it was quite typical to become engineer first and decide about the future ...
Categories: News EN

Baselworld heeds calls to change after Swatch exit

Swissinfo EN - Mon, 09/03/2018 - 09:17
Michel Loris-Melikoff had been in his new job for just a few weeks when the bad news broke. Swatch Group was pulling out of one of the most important events in the calendar of the world’s watchmakers — the annual Baselworld trade show, where Mr Loris-Melikoff had taken over as managing director. The setback in July was both surprising and disappointing, Loris-Melikoff tells the Financial Times. Swatch had committed in March to take part in the 2019 event in the Swiss city near the German border. “We had a contract,” he says. What was more, he had also not had the chance to show off his plans for next year “and what our reflections are for Baselworld 2020”. Instead, Swatch’s move was followed by the resignation of René Kamm as chief executive of MCH Group, the events company behind Baselworld — and Loris-Melikoff, 53, a former private banker, found himself having to explain how trade fairs will survive in a digital age when watchmakers are less reliant on wholesale distribution ...
Categories: News EN

Baselworld heeds calls to change after Swatch exit

Swissinfo EN - Mon, 09/03/2018 - 09:17
Michel Loris-Melikoff had been in his new job for just a few weeks when the bad news broke. Swatch Group was pulling out of one of the most important events in the calendar of the world’s watchmakers — the annual Baselworld trade show, where Mr Loris-Melikoff had taken over as managing director. The setback in July was both surprising and disappointing, Loris-Melikoff tells the Financial Times. Swatch had committed in March to take part in the 2019 event in the Swiss city near the German border. “We had a contract,” he says. What was more, he had also not had the chance to show off his plans for next year “and what our reflections are for Baselworld 2020”. Instead, Swatch’s move was followed by the resignation of René Kamm as chief executive of MCH Group, the events company behind Baselworld — and Loris-Melikoff, 53, a former private banker, found himself having to explain how trade fairs will survive in a digital age when watchmakers are less reliant on wholesale distribution ...
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Flavours of integration, pushing pedal power and balancing student budgets

Swissinfo EN - Sun, 09/02/2018 - 12:00
Here are some of the stories we'll be following the week of September 3: Switzerland is home to people of hundreds of different nationalities, and all of them have to eat. On Wednesday our special multimedia edition “A seat at Switzerland’s table” brings you the stories of five immigrants who came to the Alpine country over the last 60 years from Italy, Portugal, Taiwan, Canada and Syria, bringing along their culinary traditions. For each of them, cooking, eating and sharing recipes became a key part of navigating the often-difficult process of fitting into Swiss life. Follow their journeys, and learn their recipes – some with a Swiss twist. Tuesday The new PubliBike shared system in Bern will soon be the biggest in overall terms in the whole country, surprising for a "small" city. This piece looks at the politics behind Bern's aim to become a "new Copenhagen", focusing on the vision of traffic chief Ursula Wyss (interview with an official from her office) and the ...
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