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Michael Derrer

About me

I see myself as a cosmopolitan who doesn’t want to lose his roots. What touches me more: an old Swiss film or a political breakthrough in a country where I spent some time?

My attitude towards Switzerland

The experience of long professional stays abroad allow me to put the political system in Switzerland into perspective. We already learn democracy at school and live it in associations and in many companies. The ability of the Swiss to listen is probably related to this lived democracy. It provides a basis for the innovative strength and competitiveness of our economy.

On the other hand, I never want to forget that our country has been spared by historical deflagrations of war, Nazism and communism. In countries like Poland, Romania, Russia or Ukraine, where one constantly comes across traces of the defeats of humanity, one is repeatedly made aware of how much our prosperity is the result of lucky circumstances.

Cosmopolitanism and patriotism are not mutually exclusive

I want to take home the best of the places I have been to.

  • During my high school year in the USA, for example, I admired the presentation skills of young Americans, which are intensively trained.
  • The French-speaking Swiss inspire me with their fine sense of humor.
  • Romanians convince by their rhetorical skills and the classical education derived from the Greeks and Romans.
  • What I particularly appreciate about Russians and Ukrainians is the ability to make long-lasting friendships.
  • Poles impress me with their intrinsic correctness in their behavior towards others.

By my inclinations, I am a theorist, but I do not lose sight of the practical use of theory.

Education is an attitude towards life, autodidactics and the constant leap into the cold water are the best teachers.

What fascinates me about Eastern Europe and Russia
End of communism and building of market economies

My studies in political and economic sciences coincided with the great political upheavals in Eastern Europe. The events moved me to long studying periods in Bucharest (1991-92) and in Moscow (1992-94 and 1996). Since then I have specialized professionally on the Eastern European region and gradually got to know other countries, as well.

It was a unique experience to witness the end of the Soviet empire – in terms of historical significance perhaps comparable to the end of the Roman Empire. I wanted to absorb the last remnants of this world, which was so different from ours, and benefit from the wealth of experience of the people who had lived in this peculiar system.


The office window of an abandoned Soviet factory

It was also unique to witness the emergence of a market economy in Eastern Europe – a learning process that every inhabitant of this region had to go through on his own.

Cultural differences

There are also important cultural differences between Eastern Europe, Russia and Western countries. I am fascinated by observing such differences and learning to understand their reasons and logic.


Stay of the Swiss cycling team in Moscow, which I organized

  • Russia seminar for Swiss exporters by Michael Derrer. In this seminar, which I have been offering since 2007, I convey my understanding of the functioning of the Russian economy and society to Swiss exporting companies.
  • I also hold presentations on topics related to Ukraine, Romania and Poland
Historical events that I attended and with which I dealt intensively
  • Revolution 2014 in Kiev (Euromaidan)
  • I was an election observer in 2004 in Kiev (Orange Revolution)
  • Presidential elections in Russia in 1996 – the oligarchs secure Yeltsin’s office against the communists
  • Stay in Moscow during the civil war-like turmoil of 1992
  • I was an election observer in the first free elections in Romania in 1991
  • Relief supplies to Bucharest in February 1990 after the fall of the dictator Ceausescu
My study and work stays abroad
  • 2.5 years in Moscow and St.Petersburg
  • 2 years in Kiev
  • 2 years in Bucharest
  • 1.5 years in Warsaw and Krakow
  • 6 months in Havana
  • 1 year USA
  • 9 years in Lausanne, Geneva and Friborg