Historical archive

Prime Minister Kjell Magne Bondevik

Speech to Christian Democratic International Conference

Historical archive

Published under: Bondevik's 2nd Government

Publisher The Office of the Prime Minister

Madrid, Spain, 13 February 2004

Excellencies,
Friends and colleagues,
Ladies and gentlemen,
 
Meeting in Madrid is always a privilege. Especially when it’s a meeting between Christian Democratic friends. Quisiera expresar mis agradecimientos al Presidente Aznar por la buena organización de esta importante reunión.
 
We’ve come here from different parts of the world. But we have some common challenges to meet. The process of globalisation is making us more and more inter-dependent. The benefits we draw and disadvantages we meet may differ from country to country. However, we face global challenges that demand global solutions.
 
We are, all of us, citizens of the emerging world of globalisation.
  • As individuals and societies, we are exposed to vast new opportunities, but also new threats.
  • As politicians and governments, we are authorised deal with the challenges.
  • As Christian Democrats, we are committed to the values needed to find the best solutions.

In the era of globalisation the pace of change is quick. What we should do is to ensure that the direction of change is right.

I believe the Christian values provide an excellent foundation for this. They advocate respect for human life and sound stewardship, and they can be summed up in the commandment to “love thy neighbour as thyself.” The combination of democratic decision-making and these fundamental values is the core of Christian Democracy.

Christian Democrats must therefore always be on the side of the poor and oppressed.

On this basis, we build societies of freedom and justice, of human rights and the state of law, of prosperity and peace.

The cold war between the free West and the Communist East is over. Now, we must prevent a new conflict between the Christian West and the Muslim Orient.

Extremists and populist movements are exploiting fear of “those who are not like us”. We can see the consequences in the form of terrorism and racially motivated violence. To fight terrorism more efficiently we need to know about its root causes. Hate is often the result of fear, which comes from ignorance, frustration and an insecure identity. Extremists are trying to spread the message of hate in the name of God. Yet nothing is further from true faith than hatred. On the contrary, if you have a strong faith, you will better understand and respect the beliefs of others. This is tolerence.

In many conflicts religion is considered to be part of the problem. In my view, it should be the other way around. Religion must become part of the solution.

As government leaders, we must take responsibility for helping to build bridges between the different faiths and cultures. We must encourage dialogue between religions. For this task, the Christian Democrats are well equipped.

I am currently focusing on the need to foster greater understanding between religions. This is not a task for governments alone. We need the engagement of civil society. And education is crucial. Schools must foster tolerance and respect for human dignity.

To quote John F. Kennedy:

“Tolerance implies no lack of commitment to one’s own belief. Rather, it condemns the oppression or persecution of others.”

We are all part of a global fellowship and we must join together with all those who are struggling for justice.

At the same time, we have a responsibility to protect minorities in our own countries. We must help them to become full members of our societies, regardless of religion or traditions, as long as they subscribe to the basic principles of freedom and democracy. The same rights and tolerance must be shown minorities in Islamic states.

History shows that those communities that were most willing to learn from others have developed most rapidly. This is an important lesson.

The Christian Democrats represents a value-based movement. It’s a central driving force in international politics, not least in Europe. We are an alternative to the liberalist right and the socialist left. We will stay faithful to our values, to the benefit of the people.

Thank you.