Speech/article | Dato: 27.10.2011
Speech at the award ceremony for the Tällberg Leadership Award 2011.
Ladies and Gentlemen,
I am grateful for the kind words expressed by the Tällberg Foundation, and Bo Ekman in the motivation for the granting of this prize.
To me, they are words from the Swedish people to the people of Norway.
And, a prize given by one people to another.
It was the Norwegian people who demonstrated leadership when we were struck by terrorism on the twenty-second of July this year.
Our mental map was torn apart.
Our compass shot to pieces.
During the critical hours of that black Friday, each and every one of us had to find our way through a landscape of shock, fear and devastation.
It could have gone wrong.
We could have got lost.
But, we found our way.
Out of darkness and uncertainty, back to democracy and humanism.
I am just as proud now, almost 100 days after the atrocities that the Norwegian people - without hesitation, determined that they would not repay evil with evil.
Their answer to the terrorist attacks was a stubborn promise of more democracy and more openness, but never naivety.
The bomb and shootings on twenty-second of July not only killed and maimed, it attacked the very core of the democratic system, as we know it in Sweden and Norway:
- The principle that opinions must be formed through open debate
- The principle of respect for different opinions
- The respect for the rights of individuals.
These are all fundamental values of our democracies.
The perpetrator considered himself to be above all this.
He granted himself the right to kill for a horrendous cause.
The Norwegian people responded by rallying behind democracy.
The Swedish people responded as a close and dear neighbour.
There was an outpouring of sympathy for the Norwegian people and our grief.
Sweden offered us support and compassion when we needed it most.
And, on the twenty-second of July we needed good neighbours more than ever.
The terrorist struck at the heart of our society.
Precious lives were lost.
On Utøya, our most treasured and vulnerable assets, our youth, were quite simply massacred.
Norway faced its hardest test since the Second World War.
And our good neighbour was there to give us support.
I felt the warmth and sympathy from Sweden from the very first moment.
Prime Minister Fredrik Reinfeldt was one of the first to call and express his sympathy.
He said that Sweden was ready to provide any help we might need.
On the twenty-fifth of July, Sweden and the other Nordic countries observed a one-minute silence together with Norway.
It was a union of grief.
A union of solidarity.
A true expression of Nordic togetherness.
And I would like to thank you for that today.
Terrorism and violence know no borders.
We share a responsibility to fight for democracy and humanity.
The safer we make the world, the safer Sweden and Norway will be.
This is why I have decided to donate the prize money to the Anna Lindh Memorial Fund.
The fund supports women and young people who work in the spirit of Anna Lindh, who campaign against prejudice, injustice, oppression and indifference.
Its aim is to ensure that her spirit lives on, encouraging people to continue to fight for the beliefs close to her heart.
Anna Lindh meant a great deal to me personally.
We got to know each other when we were both very young.
We spent several summers together on Utøya.
We shared the same views and values, the very values that her Memorial Fund is promoting to honour her memory.
The terrorist attacks in Norway on the twenty-second of July and Anna’s murder on the tenth of September in 2003 have left an everlasting impression on me.
And there is a link between these painful events.
They are a reminder that we must stand together against terrorism and violence.
Violence must never be allowed to win.
We must never be suppressed by fear.
And, terrorism must never be allowed to win over our belief in democracy.
After the twenty-second of July, the newspapers showed pictures of an imam and a bishop embracing each other in a mosque in Oslo.
I hope this will inspire us to build a community that is secure enough to respect differences.
And strong enough to cope with the most difficult debates.
We must remember these pictures.
Democracy works across ethnic, religious and other dividing lines. It is something we cannot afford to lose.
Thank you for your attention.