Memorial at the government offices on 22 July 2015 – four years after the terrorist attacks

Friends and relatives, President of the Storting (Olemic Thommessen), NATO Secretary General (Jens Stoltenberg), President of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (Anne Brasseur), ladies and gentlemen,

22 July 2011 will always be remembered as a dark day in Norway’s history.

The day disaster struck. The day the island of Utøya and the government offices in Oslo were the scene of cruel and atrocious acts.

The day 77 innocent lives were brutally cut short. 

Young people and adults. Family members who never came home.

Children and grandchilden. Parents, brothers and sisters, husbands and wives, partners and sweethearts. Relatives, friends, neighbours and colleagues.

Many of you have lost what was most precious to you. Today, four years after that terrible day, we have come together to remember with love those who were killed. 

We will never forget.

Seventy-seven lives were torn away. Even more were devastated. Families, close and dear friends, who are living with the loss of loved ones. The injured, the survivors, who are struggling to regain a sense of normality.

The grief will always be there. The events of 22 July inflicted wounds that will never heal.

I cannot pretend to know what you are going through. Only someone who has lost a son or a daughter, a sister or a brother, can really understand how painful this is. But we are trying to understand, and to be kind, respectful, compassionate.

The response to the events of 22 July demonstrated the strong bonds we have as a nation. We stood up together for the values that are so important to us: democracy and freedom, openness and tolerance, solidarity and trust.

Protecting the values our society is built on requires a concerted effort by us all.

For we see young people in Norway being drawn towards extremism. Choosing to become foreign fighters.

If we are to prevent radicalisation and put an end to prejudice, hatred and intolerance, we have to galvanise everyone into action – local communities, groups of friends, colleagues, family memebers.

The most important thing we can do is to make it clear to everyone that our common values are the way to a better society – a society where there is room for everyone.

We must think about what we say and what we do. We must confront hate rhetoric and extremism.

We can all make a difference.

The attacks on 22 July were attacks on democracy, on a political movement, on freedom of expression.

This year, terrorism has struck Europe again. Freedom of expression came under attack in Copenhagen and Paris. And this week, young people in Turkey were targeted.

More innocent lives were torn away.

Today the 22 July Centre is opening to the public. It gives an honest account of what happened on 22 July. It also has a room dedicated to those who lost their lives, where we can go to honour their memory.

A key aim of the 22 July Centre is to increase awareness and prevent hatred, violence and terrorism.

It will promote values that are important to us: democracy and openness. And it will help us to understand better how hatred, violence and terrorism can be overcome.

We owe this to the 77 innocent young people and adults who were killed in such a meaningless way on that terrible day four years ago.