This year, 200-years after Geneva joined the Swiss confederation, the Fondation pour Genève decided that Geneva should try to seduce the rest of Switzerland.
To do this it created a mission called “Geneva meets Switzerland”. Then it created a bus. A large articulated bus, colourfully decorated by Zep1, the creator of Titeuf, a cheeky cartoon character who made his debut appearance in 1992 under the title of “God, Sex and Suspenders”.
The bus, which the driver says makes a “hell of noise” on mountain roads and is a real handful to drive, hit the road on 18 April 15. It will wind its way through Switzerland stopping at 43 towns before returning to Geneva on 27 June 15.
The first stop was warmly greeted in Bern, however some in German-speaking Switzerland have expressed suspicion, wondering what might be inside the bus. Could the bus be a Trojan horse?
An article in Tribune de Genève quoted Sami Kanaan, the mayor of Geneva, saying that some of his Zurich colleagues had said, “look, we like you but there’s no need to come”. Pierre Maudet, vice president of the Geneva state council, added that a colleague from Zug had said “I’m afraid of Greeks and the gifts they bring” alluding to how German-speaking Swiss sometimes refer to the francophone region as the Greece of Switzerland.
In an interview with the Fondation, Pierre Maudet pointed out that while the confederation has brought much to Geneva, Geneva has also delivered much to Switzerland as an international gateway to the world. He sees the 200-year anniversary of the canton of Geneva joining the Swiss confederation as an opportunity to consolidate relations with the rest of Switzerland.
“The welcome received from German-speaking Swiss has been incredibly warm. They are recognizant of the fact that the people of Geneva have made an effort to come to see them” said Luzius Wasescha, a former Swiss ambassador.
On the outside of the bus are nine characters that symbolize key elements of Geneva’s identity.
So what’s inside it?
The inside is reserved for international Geneva, explained under three headings:
- The global impact of Geneva and the international decisions made there.
- The main global challenges faced by the world: achieving peace, migration, health and human rights.
- The important role Geneva plays presenting Swiss values to the world and how international Geneva benefits from Swiss neutrality.
Every stop includes a concert, balloons for children, a quiz and an official ceremony with local leaders. Local produce, principally wines from Geneva, is offered to visitors.
If you are interested in “meeting Geneva” in person you will find all of the bus’s stops here listed in date order.
1Zep, who also goes by the name of Philippe Chappuis, was born in Geneva.