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Switzerland or Sweden?  Now the United States is getting involved too

Switzerland or Sweden? Now the United States is getting involved too

US Secretary of State Antony Blinken had a window seat in geography. Image: Cornerstone

The eternal story of confusion between Switzerland and Sweden has a new chapter. Shortly before his trip to Europe, US Secretary of State Antony Blinken published a map that places Sweden in place of Switzerland.

Remo Hess, Brussels/Media

Americans and their knowledge of geography… After US President Joe Biden congratulated Switzerland on its alleged joining of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) in front of the gathered global press last year, US Secretary of State Anthony Blinken is now making a bold move: shortly before his trip. To Europe and his meeting with French President Emmanuel Macron, and his ministry published a public relations clip. It features prominently: a map of Europe that placed Sweden in the place of Switzerland and moved the Scandinavian country to the heart of Europe.

How embarrassing. The error was quickly noticed and the post on the “X” SMS service was deleted without comment. But the damage was done. “I didn't know you could get to Sweden via Italy” or “Switzerland was the word you were looking for,” commented amused X users.

Sweden was fed up and started the campaign with a wink

The fact that the US State Department would make such a mistake is unprofessional. But unfortunately it is by no means unusual. Last year, the Swedish Tourism Organization launched a humorous educational campaign due to the ongoing risk of confusion.

With affected seriousness, a Swedish speaker in German addresses “the politicians and citizens of Switzerland” and suggests that they finally decide who exactly owns what: Switzerland has the yodel, Sweden has the silence of nature. Switzerland focuses on leather pants, while Sweden focuses on popular fashion trends, actress Emma Peters said with a wink. Clearly, no one in the US State Department was paying attention to the campaign.

Video from Sweden…

Video: Watson/Lucas Zollinger

But even outside of official policy, there is always confusion between the two countries. Some examples: When Swedish online streaming service Spotify went public in 2018, Wall Street raised the Swiss flag. Liverpool also delivered the reverse dummy pass in 2018 when Xherdan Shaqiri moved to England.

…and our answer to it:

Video: Watson/Emily Inkent

In Pakistan, angry Muslims burned the Swiss flag in retaliation after the burning of the Qur’an in Sweden. But mistakes also happen where we should know better: In the Champions League match between FC Bern and Grenoble, the French played the Swedish national anthem. Unforgivable.

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