TDT | Manama
The Daily Tribune – www.newsofbahrain.com
Reported by Julia Cassano
Bahrain and Switzerland celebrate their 50th anniversary of bilateral diplomatic relations. As part of the milestone celebration, Switzerland Ambassador to the UAE Massimo Baggi held a meeting with foreign diplomats and officials yesterday at The International Peace Institute in Bahrain Financial Harbour.
Also showcased at the meeting were paintings by a Bahraini artist, Abbas, that represent peace and unity characterising Bahrain and Switzerland’s bilateral relations. The paintings represent peace shown by both countries at a time when peace is needed the most.
Another artist from Switzerland, Marta Margnetti, conducted an art workshop related to the glorious occasion. She told The Daily Tribune: “I am here to present my work, specifically the issues I am working on and aim to portray them through my artwork. The idea is that I collaborate with local artists in Bahrain to share the unique cultures of Bahrain and Switzerland, and to also share my own ideas of how I view the world of art.”
Federalism and direct democracy
Switzerland Ambassador to the UAE Massimo Baggi emphasised the achievements of his country’s federalism and direct democracy. Ambassador Baggi was speaking before foreign diplomats and officials yesterday at The International Peace Institute in Bahrain Financial Harbour.
He stressed the importance of sharing experiences between the two countries and spoke about the success of Switzerland, highlighting its federalism and direct democracy and how it has worked to create unity amongst the Swiss people.
“What makes Switzerland different is the importance of fiscal federalism. Paying taxes to municipalities, not to the federal state, means that when it is time to fulfil obligations by the municipalities, they have the money to do so,” Ambassador Baggi said. The municipalities do not require the central government for money or assistance.
“The essential system is the mix of institutional and fiscal federalism. In general, the Swiss people do not enjoy a concentration of power, as they want to be a part of the decisions made,” he explained. The Ambassador discussed the importance of direct democracy in a country and how it is essential to involve a society to unify the people.
“Direct democracy in Switzerland is very much alive, and more importantly, it works. Every three to four months, we vote on the issues on the federal level and the communal level.” He expressed the importance of individuals in a society being involved in the process, saying: “It is crucial that individuals who are voting are educated on the issues, which Switzerland places great focus to do.
It is important to unite the people and create a society where they are encouraged to take part in the voting process.
“The government must take great pride and focus on educating its citizens properly, which means funding and creating proper strategies to enhance school structures and curriculums.
If you don’t prepare the people for informed voting, then the risk increases regarding the final vote and decision for the government.” Ambassador Baggi pointed out that politicians must adjust to the people, not the people adjusting to them.
“Whenever a vote takes place in Switzerland, the politicians are defending their activities and decisions to the people, and this is where the people can make their informed decision on the government or politicians.”
“Switzerland did not position itself as a successful country by chance. Hard work and tough decisions allowed the country to progress and advance to what it is today. Switzerland’s success is due to hard work and good decisions made by the government and its people.”
He stated that the main factor of success is giving power to the people. Specifically, letting the people make decisions for the country. “Major decisions in Switzerland are not decided by the politicians or the central state, major decisions are decided by the people.
This compels politicians to think twice regarding decisions and laws, as a direct democracy allows the people to challenge the decisions or laws passed, directly or indirectly,” Ambassador Baggi said.
Swiss artist Marta Margnetti
Bahraini artist Abbas’ paintings symbolise unity and peace
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