SWITZERLAND THROUGH THE EYES OF RUSSIAN ARTISTS


In June – July 2014 artists of Viacheslav Zarenkov project «Creative World» have visited Switzerland.


When travelling for two weeks in twenty-six cantons with fluent speakers of four languages of Switzerland the artists from the Northern capital created more than a hundred picturesque canvases.

Famous nature of Switzerland, its mountains, valleys, forests, meadows and lakes, waterfalls of indescribable beauty, ancient towns and villages full of flowers were imprinted on canvases of Petersburg artists Eugene Antipov, Pavel Antipov, Alexander and Antonina Volodchenko, Angela Grishina, Dmitry Egupov, Julia and Anastasia Zarenkova, Olga Krasnoperova, Anna Margaryan, Alexei Pashin, Vladimir and Maria Perkhun.



Plein-air ended with paintings exhibition "Switzerland through the eyes of Russian artists", grand opening of which was held on 1st July, 2014 in Bern. Creative expedition of artists from Russia to Switzerland, which took place in the year of the 200th anniversary of Russian-Swiss diplomatic relations establishment, became a bright event in the cultural life of two countries.


The author of the project " Creative World ", doctor of Economics, professor, and honored builder of Russia Viacheslav Adamovich Zarenkov shared his impressions of the country under our request.


− Viacheslav Adamovich, as we know, this is the sixth country, which is visited by artists under the project " Creative World." Why exactly Switzerland?

− Yes, indeed, before trip to Switzerland we visited five countries, and it so happened that in these countries the effects of conflicts are still making felt themselves: Cyprus - as a result of contradictions island territory is divided into Turkish and Greek parts, Serbia - consequences of Yugoslavia demise, the Czech Republic - separation of former Czechoslovakia into two countries, mass protest demonstrations in Greece and Bulgaria. We wanted to visit the country, where multilingual population has coexisted peacefully for a long time, where all major decisions are taken indeed in a democratic way, and the opinion of each resident is considered. Switzerland - is precisely such a country.


− Please, tell us what in this country has attracted your attention the most?

− Given that the identity of any person is formed in childhood, I want to draw your attention to the organization of education in this country.

The education system in Switzerland is striking in its simplicity and consistency. All children under seven years begin to learn in secondary school. By the end of sixth grade each student must independently show his abilities and hard work. However, neither the parents nor teachers should force children to learn. Additional studies with private tutors are forbidden - all students should be in equal conditions.

After the sixth grade the community representatives (!) evaluate the potential of each student on the basis of the obtained results and distribute all students into three groups.

First - the highest, only hard-working kids with greater intellectual abilities continue to study in it. There is a special, more complex, program for them, which gives the opportunity to enter the university. The educative process is handled by high quality teachers.

The second group - for children of average intelligence. Here the curriculum is easier, and makes it possible to attend college. Majority of members of this group the future mid-level office managers.

Education in the third group is conducted on simplified program. After graduation alumni can work in household services. Lessons for this audience are carried out basically by novice teachers and trainees.

There is logic, of course, in such a division. Firstly, each group with children of equal abilities is trained. Nobody pulls back another. Everyone has equal conditions for obtaining knowledge. Secondly, why should upscale teachers waste precious time for teaching middling pupils and torturing incapable students, teaching them what they can not learn?

And thirdly, not everyone should have a higher education. Somebody needs to be a worker. Thus, the salary of ordinary sanitary technician in Switzerland may be higher than salary of certified engineer.

However, a chance is given to everyone. If after the seventh grade student of second or third group shows maximum effort and has the desire to go to higher group, he will have the opportunity to do that. He addresses to the community, whose representatives are considering all student’s efforts and marks and make a decision. But the transferring is possible only to the seventh grade. That is, if a student has successfully completed, for example, the third group of ninth grade, he could be transferred only to the seventh grade of the second group.

If the student is unable to cope with studies in his group, he will be transferred to a lower group, then again by decision of the community.

In such a way an independent selection in all areas is provided. At the same time everyone has an opportunity to choose his path and achieve high results. It is simple and it makes sense!


− Switzerland is known worldwide for democratic system of decision-making in various areas of life. Please, tell us about it.

− Switzerland is the only country in the world, which has no capital according to the Constitution. Government, Parliament and the National Bank are placed in Bern. However, to emphasize the equality of all major cities of cantons the Swiss call Bern only as political capital.

Switzerland is a federal republic consisting of twenty-six cantons and half-cantons. Each canton has its own laws, but their powers are limited by the federal constitution.

Legislative power in Switzerland is provided by bicameral Federal Assembly, consisting of the National Council and Council of Cantons.

Each canton has its own parliament and executive authorities. There are more than three thousand communities-communes. All issues are accepted within the commune by elected board or by local referendum. At the level of the canton – by canton parliament and its government.

Main decisions are made in the country by means of referendum. Ten thousand signatures are enough to address the issue in a referendum. Any issues can be considered in a referendum. For example, level of minimum wages, number of vacation days, retirement age, and many others. That is, the inhabitants of Switzerland actually decide by themselves how they should live. Resolve problems through peaceful means (!). The opinion of all residents is considered. And every Swiss citizen responsibly makes his own decision.

On the issue of increasing the minimum wage, seemingly, all had to vote "yes". However, people said "no": we are not ready for this, because an increase in salary will lead to job losses.

On the issue of increasing duration of paid vacation people also say "no" - the budget, they say, will not sustain.

The official languages of Switzerland are German, French, Italian and Romansh. In general, people talk at their convenience. I witnessed two young guys were talking in the restaurant over a cup of coffee. One spoke German, the other - in French. Our guide explained, everyone knows each other, but they feel more comfortable to express their thoughts, emotions in their own language. And now remember Baltic States, Ukraine - wild hostility to the Russian language.

Where it all came from?! I did not want to touch policy, but I still will express my idea: why Ukrainian would not create such a confederation akin to the Swiss confederation? Peacefully, respecting the interests of everyone. Accept it in a referendum. Solve all issues taking into account the views of all citizens.


− What can you say about the Swiss mentality?

− People from different cantons, of course, differ in behavior and attitude. But they all have common aspect - a conservative view on life, based on a few starting points.

The first, it is important to keep the traditions of their ancestors that they have now.

The second - logic behavior, ease decisions taken, not wastefulness and thrift in all.

The third - mutual respect, anxious attitude towards others. And generally to the external environment. Any citizen of Switzerland doesn’t do anything that might somehow humiliate the dignity of others. For example, no Swiss asks another about his salary, education, his family or personal life. These and similar questions, according to the Swiss, can put people in an awkward position.

Creating favorable conditions for other Swiss citizens provide respect for themselves and thus create a harmony of living.

The same is true with regard to wildlife and nature. I have not seen the green bridges nowhere except Switzerland. These bridges across the road or across the river, overgrown with trees and bushes, are intended only for animal.


− Did the famous Swiss nature impress you?

− There are not enough words to describe the beauty of landscape in Switzerland: mountains, valleys, forests, meadows, lakes, waterfalls of indescribable beauty! Full of flowers manicured villages and detached houses, paths, bridges highlight the unique image of the country. There are a lot of sculptures, both ancient and modern. Some are designed to perpetuate the memory of famous people, others to emphasize tradition or ritual that exists in this area; there are sculptures with humor, reflecting the human vices.

Swiss cows with big melodic bells around their necks, grazing in the meadows, give special shade of beauty perceptions. In the morning, the silence is interrupted by Swiss cocks with ringing voice.


− How does in Switzerland relate to Russian people?

− Residents’ attitude is very friendly to Russian. Suvorov, Tolstoy are well known and honored, as well as Nabokov who spent the last seventeen years of his life in the Swiss town of Montreux, and many other Russian.

Attitude to modern Russian tourists is also very nice.


− Can you remember any unusual stories associated with Switzerland?

− Enclosure for three bears was built in Bern for 24 million francs. That's not counting the cost of the land. Bear is a symbol of Bern, and according to residents of Bern all animals should live in conditions close to natural.

The accuracy and commitment of the Swiss are striking. Everything is done in a strictly allotted time. No matter what the circumstances!

Once, it was in winter eight years ago, we arrived in Geneva at 23.30. At 24.00 an airport is closed by local rules. By this time most of the passengers had not have time to get the bags. However, at midnight, according to routine, the conveyor with luggage was stopped, the passengers, despite the rapid resistance, were deported from the airport, and the airport was closed. The bags were delivered to tourists in hotels only in the evening of the next day (laughs).

There is another example. Nikita Mikhalkov was filming on Lake Geneva. Crowd scene was recruited, appropriate costumes were put on, props were picked up, etc. Suddenly it started to rain, but on the script it must be the sunny. All waited patiently for weather changes. They were waiting a second day... Finally, on the third day closer to noon, the clouds disappeared, the sun came out. "Everybody to places quickly, let’s begin to work" - Nikita Sergeyevich ordered. But in response he saw that everyone was getting out from the site. "What's the matter? Take your places" - director shouted persistently again. And in reply was: "I'm sorry, lunchtime." And everyone has left for dinner.

Only in Switzerland you can get long-term treatment with the release from work with a diagnosis of "depression". Sanatorium treatment is free of charge. Causes of depression can be different: bad marks in school, the boss offended you, family quarrel, misunderstanding others, loss of keys, etc.

Or again, a very important highway has been planning in one of the cantons. There was a small pond with frogs on the way this highway. The issue of pond demolition was considered by Parliament more than fifty times. Half of the deputies voted for the demolition of the pond, half for changing of highway location. The result was a compromise solution: to build a pond near to resettle frogs there before construction of future highway.


− Viacheslav Adamovich, in your opinion, why do they live well?

− Many years ago residents of Switzerland defined for themselves the basic principles of existence and still adhere to them:

• Only peaceful existence can be comfortable for life. And they created a confederation within the country and declared neutrality in foreign relations.

• Creating comfortable conditions for others everyone receives in response hundredfold comfort for himself.

• Respect for self, others and the world around. Creating harmony in everything. Happiness is when a person is in harmony with himself and the world. Swiss citizens make themselves happy.

• No wastefulness, respect to all they created inspires confidence in others. And trust is a great value! The result is the most reliable banking system, filling the country's budget.

• The logic of decision-making is taken into account the opinion of each (!) resident and everyone responsibly concerns to express his opinion.


Everything is simple and it makes sense!