20 February 1938 is a historic date for Swiss plurilingualism, marking the point where Romansh officially became a national language, along with German, French and Italian. The FDFA has chosen this symbolic date to launch the first Romansh Language Week (Emna Rumantscha), in addition to Plurilingualism Week and the activities organised during Italian Language Week and French Language Week. These events underline the importance of plurilingualism for national cohesion, but also for openness to the outside world.
The idea of the 'Emna Rumantscha' was born two years ago on the occasion of the 100th anniversary of the Lia Rumantscha in Zuoz. This project has been strongly supported by Federal Councillor Ignazio Cassis and was the result of collaboration between a number of actors in Switzerland and abroad. "Our country is composed of a multitude of identities and cultures living together in harmony. And Romansh is a key ingredient of that melting pot. Plurilingualism and diversity are both a challenge and an asset: they teach us to resolve conflicts through dialogue, a Swiss quality that is in great demand throughout the world," highlights Cassis.
Online event devoted to Romansh culture
This major collective effort with various partners – including the Canton of Graubünden and the Lia Rumantscha – is reflected in the launch event on 19 February 2021 (livestream from 11:45am to 1pm on www.rtr.ch). From Bern, from Romansh-speaking Switzerland and from all over the world, participants will be exchanging views and trying to answer the question: why is Romansh "in ferm toc Svizra"? Federal Councillor Ignazio Cassis and Mario Cavigelli, President of the Graubünden Cantonal Council, will be talking to pupils from Glion secondary school and will then take part in a panel discussion together with Graubünden Cantonal Councillor Jon Domenic Parolini and other speakers of the Romansh language from various fields. Swiss Ambassador Chasper Sarott and Aita Pult will also contribute video messages from Madagascar and from New York.
Contribution of Swiss representations abroad
Romansh Language Week is an opportunity to shine a spotlight on Swiss plurilingualism, bringing together a wide variety of Romansh-speakers and including stories, interviews, language courses, readings, videos and virtual meetings. Switzerland's representations abroad have been taking steps to promote knowledge of the Romansh language and culture in their respective countries within the limits of the conditions imposed by the COVID-19 pandemic. "We excel in diplomacy," says Federal Councillor Ignazio Cassis, "precisely because of our centuries of experience in bringing different identities and cultures together in harmony. We want to pass on this experience at the international level, through our good offices and mediation services. Switzerland is thus an important actor for peace, human rights and security in the world."
The FDFA, plurilingualism and intercultural dialogue
The promotion of minority languages in Switzerland is also part of the structured, ongoing political dialogue that the head of the FDFA is conducting with the cantons of Graubünden and Ticino. In addition, Switzerland has a global presence with around 170 representations which employ about 2,300 local staff. The variety of languages spoken, in addition to the Swiss national languages, is enormous, which puts the promotion of intercultural dialogue right at the heart of Swiss diplomacy.
Livestreaming event on 19 February 2021: www.rtr.ch
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