Indholdet på denne side vedrører regeringen Poul Nyrup Rasmussen IV (1998-2001)

Prime Minister Poul Nyrup Rasmussen’s Opening Address to The Danish Parliament, Folketinget Tuesday 2 October 2001

We must stand together in Denmark – and in the World at large

There are points of time in history when events in an instant eradicate the world’s agenda and replace it with a new one. As in a flash, events dwarf the problems of the day, and, in an instant, make us move closer together.

Tuesday 11 September 2001 was such a day. Nobody can yet with any certainty assess the magnitude of the consequences of those terrible events in the USA. However, they are great, and they will have an impact on us for many years to come.

The attacks in New York and Washington are not merely another terrorist action. They are not merely an attack on cities in the USA. They are a ruthless assault on everything we represent: the freedom of the individual, the security of the many, our common security, everything that gives meaning to the word ”democracy”.

We have all in a glimpse understood how vulnerable we are when terror strikes at random.

It is of decisive importance that the democracies strike back. It is of decisive importance that the terrorists do not get away with their crime. This is a struggle for freedom and security, and democracy will win that struggle.

* * *

At no time during the last fifty years has it been so abundantly clear that we are part of the world, for better and for worse. We share vulnerability, but at the same time we are tied together in a clearer community than before. At home, in Europe, in NATO and in the world at large.

Denmark does not face a war between countries and continents. Denmark is not facing a particular threat. However, we and other societies face a new, global threat which we can only fight and prevent through concerted efforts.

We need to keep our heads cool and clear, keep the full picture in mind, and ensure that there is coherence and vision to the decisions we must make.

The fight against large-scale terrorism cannot be won at a single stroke. It cannot be won by a single country. It can be won only if all nations are ready to solve the task through a concerted effort. Through a powerful, deliberate and persistent counterstroke.

* * *

All those who must make decisions can take things terribly astray if we act without careful deliberation. If irreconcilable hatred mounts to divide people. If we make an error in the global community’s fight against terrorism.

However, we can succeed if consideration and careful deliberation guide us along the path of co-operation. If we act wisely, sensibly and responsibly on the international scene, in a new global alliance and at home here in Denmark.

We therefore now face a situation that demands a number of important decisions.

In order to enable the Government and the Danish Parliament, Folketinget, to choose and prioritise in the years ahead, we must make a thorough analysis of Denmark’s situation after 11 September, as concerns foreign policy and security policy.

It is time to reflect, and it is time to co-operate. The Government has initiated a comprehensive analysis and assessment, and it will be presented to the Folketing as soon as possible this autumn.

The Government parties will, subsequently, take immediate initiative to call a parliamentary debate in the Folketing on Denmark’s new foreign and security policy situation.

It will, of course, be a first assessment which leaves many questions, but I also see it as a process that will extend over a long period.

* * *

The international response is being built up

International terrorism must be encountered with an international response.

And the framework for our effort must be the UN.

The message from Washington has been clear from the start: solidarity from the NATO partners and Europe and the world means that the USA is now once again making a commitment within a new global alliance of countries.

All the countries that clearly denounce terrorism will be included. Europe, Russia, China, India, present and coming Member States of the EU, partners in the Arab and Moslem world.

* * *

If the global alliance against terrorism is to last during the coming years, it is of decisive importance that the reactions of our countries and not least the response of the USA are carefully deliberated and highly focused.

This is the line of policy that the leadership of the USA has adopted.

It was, therefore, of the utmost importance that we who are members of the UN, NATO and the EU gave our assent and clear support for the USA.

It will be a drawn-out struggle, which can be won only by deploying a wide variety of instruments and through consistent action.

This applies to the military pressure as well as the political and diplomatic pressure.

This involves a massive effort to track down and eliminate the hiding places of the terrorists, their financial network, the links with other international crimes, such as for instance trafficking in humans, drugs, and other crimes.

* * *

Europe has already initiated an intensified fight against terrorism. Co-operation on intelligence, forensic and police investigation, and law enforcement through the courts.

However, we must go even further. The UN Security Council has now also adopted a new comprehensive resolution on the fight against international terrorism.

The UN, NATO, Europe united in a concerted effort.

* * *

The other thing we must attend to internationally is to remove the very soil from which hatred and extremism spring.

The absolutely central issue for the years ahead is to remove the deep roots of terrorism. An incredible number of complex causes lie beneath, and they often differ from region to region.

We do not claim that poverty and the deep and growing chasm between the rich and the poor world provides the only explanation for terrorism. However, this is a central issue.

Terrorism springs from deep tensions between religious, political and cultural forces. Poverty, illiteracy, humiliation and serious economic and social differences almost always provide fertile soil for hatred, fanaticism and terrorism.

Perhaps the present situation offers us an opportunity for putting an end to the frightening use of violence and terror in the Middle East. Europe and the USA have now joined forces in order to force both parties, Israel and the Palestinians, back to the negotiation table, back to the peace process. We must maintain this pressure.

* * *

Just now there may also be a chance that other countries will increase their development assistance. Denmark is in the vanguard and must maintain its development assistance, but others must follow suit. The European Council committed itself to this pledge in Gothenburg, where all confirmed that each EU Member State must reach at least 0.7 per cent of its GDP. This has, after all, been the UN target for quite a number of years.

The world has now initiated extensive humanitarian aid for people in Afghanistan. It commands respect that a significant part of the immediate effort to save human lives in Afghanistan springs from Denmark.

Denmark will strengthen its humanitarian aid efforts in the neighbouring areas. It makes no sense to transport hundreds of thousands of Afghan refugees, indeed millions of Afghan refugees, to Europe when we shall be able to help 20 to 30 times more effectively in the neighbouring areas. And at the same time create the possibility that these people may one day return safely to Afghanistan.

* * *

We need more international regulation, not less.

We must apply pressure within the World Trade Organisation, the WTO, for negotiations that can open the markets to especially the developing countries. Based on the model we have developed in Europe, we shall open our markets for all goods except weapons. This applies also to agricultural products, the consequence of which must be accepted by the entire European agricultural sector.

The Group of the seven largest industrial countries and the International Monetary Fund, the IMF, must lead the endeavours to create new rules that can stabilise the financial markets.

And both first and last comes the need for a new fair deal, a global deal on both economic, social and environmental main issues. At the global summit on sustainable development in Johannesburg in September next year, Europe must champion the implementation of the necessary common decisions. A task that has assumed even greater significance in the light of the terrorist acts.

I believe that Europe has special qualifications for making a great effort in setting the global agenda and removing the foundation and growth conditions for terrorism.

A new agenda – also for Denmark

This extensive international work will also have far-reaching effect on Denmark.

We must co-operate much more than before. We must strengthen ourselves inwardly, and we must be active and show solidarity outwardly. We must participate fully in the international struggle, otherwise we cannot expect solidarity and support from others.

Tomorrow, the Government will present a proposal for a parliamentary decision on Denmark’s participation in a NATO effort in Macedonia, which aims to protect the international observers.

We aim hereby to contribute to peace and stability in the region, but in reality we also contribute to the new, international effort against terrorism. The Danish soldiers are to be deployed in Macedonia among other things in order to replace British and American troops, which may thereby be directly deployed in possible action against the men behind the terrorist attacks in the USA on 11 September.

I hope that a broad majority of the Folketing will support this effort through both swift and thorough treatment of the proposal.

* * *

Already in nine months, from 1 July, we shall assume the Presidency of the European Union. This is a great responsibility. It places a maximum of demands on us for preparation, for resolve and for drive. The necessary funding and manpower for the work have been appropriated on the Government Budget for the coming year.

In September next year we must lead, in Johannesburg, the building of the new global deal on behalf of Europe, together with our international partners.

A few weeks later we must tie the strands together in Copenhagen at an important summit with the Southeast Asian countries, including China and Japan. I have no doubt that one important theme also in this forum will be the endeavour to improve global economic co-operation.

* * *

However, first and last we shall have a decisive and central task of implementing a successful enlargement of both the EU and NATO. We must create an undivided Europe.

The Government will plan and structure things so that we have the best possible basis for completing the negotiations with the first EU applicant countries in December next year during the Danish Presidency.

It is the Government’s ambition to close an historic circle, an historic decade for the European peace project: Copenhagen to Copenhagen. We started with the summit in Copenhagen in 1993 where the enlargement process was launched in earnest. Now the first ships of that launch will return to the harbour at the summit in December next year 2002.

One of the greatest foreign policy tasks of the Danish Government is remaining. I know that the Danish Folketing will work in unison on this task.

* * *

The NATO partners have agreed that the alliance must invite the new members to the summit in Prague next year. We do not dither or hesitate. Denmark will endeavour to ensure that Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania receive an invitation. Also others can count on Danish support.

Great tasks are being undertaken in Europe, also our preparations for the new Inter-Governmental Conference in 2004. The Government has presented its vision on Europe and looks forward to the debate on this issue.

Law and order, civil rights, consistency and the fight against terrorism

After 11 September, the Government must take consistent steps to follow up on everything we have set out to achieve at the international level in domestic legislation, regulations and through practical police work.

We maintain that terrorism must not be allowed to force us to abandon our way of life, our freedom, our democracy.

Reinforcing our struggle against terrorism must not violate the fundamental principles of the rule of law upon which Danish society is built.

Our freedom and rights are not for sale; they need not be when we protect ourselves better against the terrorists. However, we have to face the fact that considerable legislative changes in the area of law and order and sterner practice will be necessary for the common protection against terrorism. For what is the value of my freedom if I am constantly under threat? And exactly how free is a life lived in fear?

At the EU summit on 21 September 2001 we gave our support for the Ministers of Justice to speed up the efforts to implement an extensive plan against terrorism.

A few days ago, on 28 September, the UN Security Council adopted the most far-reaching anti-terrorist initiatives ever: UN Resolution 1373, which will go down in history as a turning point of international law. A unique step in the fight against terrorism by the international community founded on the rule of law.

The Government gives its full support for this basis for the new international rule of law. We intend to implement fully and entirely the consequences of UN resolutions into Danish legislation and court practice. This applies both to the rules to which we owe compliance under international law, and the so-called non-binding but clear calls for government initiatives.

* * *

It is paramount that Denmark belongs to the most active and most dynamic. In our own interest and in the interest of the international community.

Within the next sixty days, the Government will have the necessary bills and tightening measures for regulation and practice ready. Amendments which comply with the common rules of the UN and the European co-operation, and with the needs we have ourselves identified concerning the fight against terrorism.

* * *

Allow me to summarise the new measures we have to initiate:

  • Legislation to cut off and unravel the terrorists’ sources and channels of financing.
  • Amendment of the Criminal Law so as to deal with international terrorist networks
  • More flexible rules to facilitate extradition of terrorists.
  • The EU is to draft a joint definition of terrorism and formulate a common criminal justice framework. The practical cooperation between police forces is to be strengthened.
  • The Aliens Act must be amended on a number of points. The amendments should proceed from the decisions taken by the EU and the UN Security Council. This means that
  • we must expand the co-operation between the National Security Service and the Immigration Authorities, also in order to ensure that residence permit is denied foreigners when this is required by national security concerns
  • all necessary measures must be taken in order to investigate and ensure that asylum seekers have not participated in acts of terrorism if they are to obtain asylum. It must be ensured that asylum status is not abused by perpetrators of terrorism or their supporters
  • terrorists or active supporters of terrorism are not to be granted asylum in Denmark, or any other country in the World. They are to be brought to justice to answer for their crimes.
  • We shall strengthen the effort against trafficking in humans and money laundering. This also involves amendment of legislation.

We must strengthen the Danish intelligence services, both the National Security Service and the Defence Intelligence Service. This is imperative if we are to fulfil our international co-operation obligations. This requires more resources, manpower and investments.

* * *

Already on 15 September I made it clear that if any legislation requires tightening then it will be tightened.

This is exactly the work we are now introducing.

The intelligence services have not expressed the opinion that Denmark is a haven for terrorists, nor that our legislation invites any such persons. However, I shall not deny that Denmark may have people who sympathise with terrorism.

In the new situation after 11 September, we must of course make new, effective and specific assessments, and the decisions that follow from such assessments.

We must also see to it that war criminals that seek refuge in Denmark are effectively prosecuted.

People who have perpetrated crimes against humanity and violated human rights must be brought to justice. If it proves necessary, we shall be ready to tighten our legislation on prosecution of war criminals.

* * *

A great responsibility rests on us all to avoid inflaming popular opinion and exploiting fear. We play with fire if we sow fear in Danish politics. If we start doing this, it means that we start speaking in the way the terrorists want us to speak.

Let us at this time stand united in the fight against terrorism as the joint national task we are now to solve.

I would like to issue an invitation to broad co-operation in the Folketing on the implementation of the necessary legislation. I hope that we all want to join in across party divisions and traditional affiliations.

* * *

We must stand united in Denmark

The future does not stop as per Tuesday 11 September. But the future is going to look different.

We must avoid by all means that the terrible events cause new conflicts and deep divisions in Danish society.

Let me make it absolutely clear what I have been saying since 11 September: we are not involved in a religious war. We are not involved in a war against peoples or continents. We are involved in a fight against terrorism, regardless of who the men behind the horrible acts of terrorism may be.

We must not take the conflicts to the streets of Denmark. We can prevent this if we stand united and decide to remain so.

The acts of terrorism which the World witnessed on 11 September have frightened populations and generated a feeling of fear and insecurity in many countries, Denmark included.

It is important to prevent the spread of enemy stereotypes, to explain, not least to children, that the events on 11 September were a crime perpetrated by terrorists. The scenario is not one of “them” against “us”. We stand together, also with immigrants and refugees, in the fight against terrorism.

Denmark is too small for big conflicts. We must avoid divisions at a time when we are more vulnerable than before.

We can avoid divisions through plain speech, dialogue and solidarity.

* * *

We must guard the basic values that we share, that our Danish society professes. If we do not, we easily run the risk that things go terribly wrong through misunderstandings and stereotypes. Let us make it clear what Denmark offers and what Denmark expects.

Therefore, I believe that there is now a need to make it unequivocally clear and, I implore you to understand, that the Danish State is a democracy based on freedom of religion. This freedom is mutual. It applies not only to one self, it applies to all. It applies not only to the private religious beliefs of individuals. It applies to all religions.

Everybody must understand that this freedom is personal and irredeemable. A threat against this freedom is a threat against democracy itself.

Real democracy accepts and tolerates any religion, as long as it respects democracy. It is that simple.

Therefore, the co-existence of faith and society requires that we should keep religion and politics separate. No matter what we believe in.

The solution is not controversies between religions. Such have never brought anything good. The solution is respect for the freedom and the responsibility that is the very core of democracy, values which also in our country are enforced with consistency and a humanitarian attitude.

* * *

I therefore appeal for clear heads. I am convinced that plain speech is the foundation for dialogue and solidarity.

This is what the dialogue between our ethnic minorities and the Danish majority must be based on.

I call upon all who take part in this dialogue to denounce any kind of violence and terrorism entirely and unequivocally.

  • That everybody who wants to live in Denmark makes a clear indication that democracy and the Danish Constitution, Grundloven, stand above everything else, also religion.
  • That human rights and the democratic values of the Danish society are respected.
  • That fundamentalism is unequivocally rejected.
  • That women have the same rights as men.
  • That every person has the right to choose his or her partner.
  • That everybody has equal access to education.
  • That everybody holds responsibility for contributing positively to the integration of foreigners in Denmark

If we cannot understand each other's language, we cannot understand each other. Therefore, everybody who lives in Denmark must learn the Danish language.

* * *

We should not incite hostile public opinion. We must do the exact opposite. We must address and solve the real problems in Denmark. This is why it is so important that the Danish legislation on integration should be given space and time to work.

For the truth is that the integration legislation is now slowly but steadily starting to work in the municipalities. These things take time.

There must be room for us all, and we must learn the practice of peaceful coexistence. This is possible when people share and speak in plain words and place reasonable demands on each other.

* * *

Preparedness, protection and security

A strong community is based on security. In a world that is more unsafe we need security and community. Some people ask if Denmark faces a direct threat. The answer is no, nothing seems to indicate that we are under direct threat.

However, we must not be naive either. We now inhabit a different world.

The Government has decided that we shall make deliberate but swift assessment of our total emergency preparedness and our ability to handle an emergency situation.

Denmark has a fundamentally good emergency standby today.

The Government has now completed a preliminary review and submitted proposals for a strengthening of the total preparedness standby, including the necessary acquisitions of new equipment and rescue gear. At the same time we encourage close and strong co-operation between the Government, the regions and the municipal rescue preparedness.

The health preparedness will also be strengthened and expanded. A central epidemic board will be set up. The work of the National Serum Institute on establishing 24-hour standby and emergency services will be expedited. We shall review the plans for the hospital standby and the medicine standby.

We shall expand the Nordic co-operation and assist each other with laboratory analyses and emergency stockpiles of vaccines.

All in all the health care system will be better equipped to handle the consequences of a possible biological terrorist attack.

At the same time, the Government is working on a strengthening of aviation security in Denmark. This work has also been expedited, and it is co-ordinated with Europe and the international aviation security efforts.

* * *

A just society

The Government strives for and desires the achievement of a just society in Denmark. A society based on obligations and rights with a clear responsibility between society and the individual.

This also applies to our policy on law and order. Whoever acts in violation of society must be brought to justice swiftly and consistently.

This is the line the Government has taken consistently in all the work we have implemented, in the punishment of violence and any other type of crime.

This autumn the Government will take steps to significantly tighten the punishment for rape. We have seen horrible cases of rape, in which the sentences were blatantly out of step with the population's sense of justice and with the countries with which we like to compare ourselves. Rape is not merely an act of violence and a physical crime, it is a completely unacceptable transgression and violation of a woman. This fundamental view must be reflected in sentencing.

The Government will also introduce a bill on sterner judicial measures to guard against trafficking in women, a bill that raises the maximum penalty for such crimes to up to eight years' imprisonment. At the same time, the police will be granted powers for wiretapping in such cases.

We must be consistent in punishing crime, just as we must be consistent towards its causes. We have, therefore, introduced a number of treatments aimed not least at juvenile offenders. One example is the new youth sanction, which combines immediate sanctions with long-term treatment.

Some people sometimes ask what is the use of it all; does it have any effect? We can now see clearly that the answer is yes.

The development has actually taken the right direction for the last eight years. Crime has not been lower since 1984. Surveys show us that the Danes are among the safest people in Europe. The risk of becoming a victim of serious crime is small in this country compared with other countries.

This is not always the picture presented by the media, or reflected in the political debate, but it is nonetheless a fact.

This does not mean that we can afford to be complacent about our achievements. It means that we must stick to the line we have chosen, which is to be as consistent towards the causes of crime as we are in dealing with crime itself. It is the double effort that yields results.

* * *

The Danish economy. Robust, but not unaffected

The international economy is characterised by insecurity after 11 September. The American economy was already prior to the events on the verge of stagnation and is now hit hardest of all. Uncertainty and plummeting share prices will dampen investments and consumption for a period of time.

This obviously affects Europe. But the EU Member States stand shoulder to shoulder to combat the economic impact of the acts of terrorism. Both the USA and Europe have taken countermeasures. Interest rates have been cut. The oil producing countries have declared that they will stabilise the oil price.

* * *

We can now see that the Danish economy remains fundamentally sound and robust, but we are not untouched or unaffected by the international slowdown.

Exactly because we have built up reserves over some years, we can sustain even considerable loss of revenue caused by the falling share prices. The losses run into the tens of billions. We can handle that.

It is also, however, a reminder that we shall be wise to show caution and maintain stability.

We have the highest employment and the lowest unemployment rates in the last 25 years, and according to the survey recently published by the UN, the World Investment Report, Denmark is now ranked as eighth in the global ranking of countries to invest in. Only ten years ago we ranked as 38.

In other words, we are headed in the right direction, but we are navigating in dire straits at the moment.

Things may easily go wrong. It is well worth remembering during the coming Budget negotiations. We must not squander the healthy economy and stability.

* * *

We need to proceed with greater caution than before 11 September.

It is important that we continue the policy of reducing our debt.

It is important that the Budget supports the good agreements we have reached with the counties and municipalities for 2002. Then we have the basis for achieving better care for the elderly and further reducing the waiting time for treatment at our hospitals.

We must maintain a strong effort for the mentally handicapped, for the homeless and the socially excluded. There must be room for a decent life and the possibility for rejoining society.

It is important that we should be mindful of employment.

It is important that we create room and space for new tasks: intelligence activities and the effort against international terrorism. Strengthening of our preparedness against possible attacks.

It is important that especially the needs of young people and families should be met through the construction of new residential housing; both as presupposed in the agreements with the municipalities and the extraordinary effort under the Government's housing package, on which the Minister for Housing and Urban Development will present a bill.

We confirm our commitment to a revised policy on children and families which offers parents more time for their children, and a wider range of options. Both as extended leave in connection with childbirth and leave for periods later in the child's life. Together with the parties that are willing to reach agreement, we shall find the right structure and financing.

* * *

These tasks must be shouldered. At the same time we must ensure continued innovation and modernisation of society. The Government is ready for this.

We are therefore also ready to review certain items on the Budget in the light of the new situation we are facing.

We are ready to consider the specific proposals from the parties. There may be reasons for saving on councils, boards, committees and pools, but also in respect to this it requires the acceptance of a number of agreement parties. The Government first and foremost emphasises that the proposals must be reasonable and decent, and that they all add up to the right social balancing.

At the same time we appeal to all parties to weigh their own proposals with deliberation and critical scrutiny. In the interest of society.

If we make a concerted effort, I believe that we can achieve a good Budget that the population can feel confident about, and which is robust enough for us to withstand the impact if new changes should strike.

We invite you to broad and responsible co-operation on this.

We must secure the basis of our welfare

It is paramount for the fabric of solidarity in Denmark that things are handled with prudence, also on the labour market, and that our companies and business enterprises can continue to operate under favourable conditions.

It is paramount also that in ten years there are enough able hands to secure adequate care for the elderly and treatment of patients in the Danish health care system.

To this end we really need everybody; to this end we really need each other.

We need the encouraging experience reaped by socially responsible companies to spread and permeate the entire private and public sectors. We need to keep wage earners in employment.

In the course of this autumn, the Minister for Labour will present a new direction in our labour market policy. Mass unemployment has been dealt with and brought out of the way. Now we must focus much more directly on the skills of the individual and the jobs created in the local communities. It must be the most direct and speedy way back into a job. Many more must be included in this effort.

Our senior policy must be strengthened in close co-operation with companies. Fortunately, unemployment among experienced employees has fallen in recent years, but there will be an increasing need for this group, and companies would be wise to make long-term planning on this type of manpower.

* * *

In addition we have the entire and central effort to integrate new Danes. Never before have we needed so badly to get our ethnic minorities into employment in Denmark. I am simply unable to see how we can possibly ensure the necessary services in our welfare society without achieving this.

We have a great need for refugees and immigrants in Denmark, and fortunately we see that our Integration Act is beginning to have an effect. The municipalities have been slow starters, but the positive stories of successes must now be told widely.

Everybody in Denmark must be in employment, irrespective of what his or her name might be. This is the headline that the Government has given to the decision on deploying extra resources in order to get more foreigners into work.

The fundamental idea is that we must ensure better use and application of the qualifications which new Danes actually possess and bring with them. Many engineers, economists and medical doctors now work as florists or taxi drivers. This is not to criticise their present employment, but it is a waste of their talents and training. We must do better, through effective co-operation with the municipal authorities, companies, trade organisations, and not least the organisations that represent the immigrants themselves.

The language may be learned faster through new ways of learning Danish on the job. Experienced workers in the workplace can help the newcomers find their place in working life.

The effort must be based on skills and obligations, and the municipalities will get stronger instruments specifically for ensuring that everybody contributes the effort that is required, and which society and the individual need.

Let us show that together we are also able to shoulder this task.

* * *

If we are to ensure the future workforce, and with it the service for the elderly and our health care and hospitals, it means that more people must receive education and training in the years ahead.

We need an additional effort to help the dyslexic and those with poor reading skills. We know that thousands of people in Denmark today need reasonable assistance for these things. We also know that this can be done through a focused effort.

* * *

We have now reached the point at which we can lift the quality of the entire structure of our working life, which takes up so much of our everyday life. There are still too many work-related injuries in Denmark. Too many places still have a rough working environment and monotonous and repetitive work leading to direct attrition.

This is true both of parts of the private sector and certain parts of the public sector, not least in the health and social care area.

Many, many home-helpers, in fact all those employed in the health and social care area, do a remarkable job, but we can improve the structure of our working environment to curb the physical wear.

In the spring of this year, the Government presented a number of initiatives for improving the work environment, and this autumn we shall focus our attention on the improvement of the psychological work environment.

We must also take steps to reduce the exceedingly long case handling in compensation for industrial injuries. The present regulation is too rigid and pays too little heed to the individual, who is often given the big run-around in the complaints procedure system. This is not fair and it is entirely devoid of decency. Therefore the Government will introduce comprehensive reforms of the area during this autumn.

Through one focused effort we shall at one and the same time ensure that more people get into work, improve the retention of people in employment, improve the opportunities for seniors on the labour market, and give people the opportunity to exploit their skills and education. All this combined will make our national budget balance.

However, it requires wide co-operation, and I hope that the Folketing will join the endeavour to see these tasks through.

Security and care, also in uncertain times

If we are able in the Folketing to agree on maintaining the direction and course charted by the Government

concerning our national household, so that we do not jeopardise the economy in these slightly more uncertain times

concerning the labour market, so that there are sufficiently many hands to lift the burden of care for the elderly and the health care system.

Then we shall be able to handle the four most important welfare tasks in the time to come.

  • Hospitals and health care
  • Care for the elderly and quality of life
  • Schools, buildings and education
  • Children and family policy

Never before has the hospital sector received so many resources as during the last eight years. There has been real growth of approximately 25 per cent since 1993, and this has actually had an effect.

We can now address all the diseases and treatments that are related to people's work situation. These may be industrial injuries. They may be attrition. Physical injuries. This summer we agreed with the counties that we must ensure that more than 120,000 people can receive extra treatment over the coming three years. We have made a mutual commitment to reduce the waiting time to less than three months.

We can reach the goal before the end of 2004. In the same way we reached the goal for cardiac treatment and cancer treatment. It is a realistic goal. It is viable, and it is what our citizens need.

To me it is simple: the set of values upon which the Danish hospital system is based, i.e., that no money changes hands between patient and medical doctor, that people are entitled to receiving treatment at the time when they need it, are absolute and may not be deviated from.

* * *

The Government is determined that the municipalities shall retain responsibility for the quality of the home help provided for the elderly.

As one leader of a home-help care district in a municipality put it when I asked her about the number of cancellations in her district, 'We do not cancel appointments.' The truth is that public servants put in an enormous effort, not least those who provide care for the elderly.

However, it is a question whether the regulatory pedantry has not gone too far. If there is too much registration, time control and scheduling. Bar codes and record keeping of every minute must yield to value-based management and more room for social and health care assistants to use their working time on what the elderly really need, that is, personal care and fellowship.

In the area of care for the elderly, the Government will now face the situation and introduce proposals for amendment of the assistance for those who lose a spouse, so that old people, in the midst of the grief of having lost a spouse, must not also be presented with demands for the return of pensions and the humiliation this involves.

We must build more nursing homes and residences for the elderly in the coming years, and we are pleased that the municipalities have resources to handle this task.

For the entire area of care for the elderly we intend to introduce improved legal protection, greater transparency and greater co-operation in the local community concerning elderly citizens.

* * *

There is a need for improving the quality in the three central service areas: hospitals, care for the elderly and education in our schools. This can be achieved through better co-operation and by making use of new information technologies.

It may be achieved by creating more job satisfaction for public servants, who make a tremendous effort every day.

And it may be done through putting citizens before regulations and systems. Things can only improve if we do them differently from what we usually do.

* * *

By innovating our services to the individual it must be ensured that one can get a clear message through one contact only to one's municipality, county or to the Government, also outside the ordinary working hours and opening hours. In the coming years we shall see an overhaul and renewal of the entire way in which the public sector works for the good of the citizens. However, it is important that the public servants are included in the process from the start. Only thereby may they find new satisfaction in their work and new challenges in improved service to citizens.

The Faeroe Islands and Greenland

It is my impression that also Greenland and the Faeroe Islands agree to take part in the international effort in our three societies. To ensure continuous exchange of information, so that both Greenland and the Faeroe Islands can keep up to date on the efforts of the global alliance.

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Greenland is working on a difficult but persevering effort to innovate the society of Greenland. The economy develops sensibly, the investment pressure is great, and Greenland must of course make its priorities the way we make priorities for the Danish economy.

The Government places great emphasis on maintaining a good dialogue and good co-operation. This must take place in a climate of mutual respect for the priorities made by the home rule authorities.

If we look at the work of the home rule authorities, the Greenland Home Rule Commission has made new progress, and its work is expected to be completed at some time during 2002. If the wishes of Greenland for the future structure of co-operation between Denmark and Greenland are made clear at that time, then the Government is ready to negotiate with the Greenland Home Government. On exactly the same basis and in the same spirit as when our shared Home Rule Act was drafted.

The Government also gives its active support to Greenland's wishes for closer relations with the EU, in the shape of direct co-operation within such fields as research, education and the environment. We must open a window, a window on the Arctic areas. This is a matter which the Government will raise during the Danish Presidency.

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The Folketing had an important debate on the Faeroe Islands on 9 May this year. It confirmed the fundamental Danish view on the issue: that it is the population of the Faeroe Islands that will decide the future relationship of the Faeroe Islands to Denmark. The Folketing backed the Government's offer to the Home Government of the Faeroe Islands on discussing a real self-government reform or adjustment of the present home rule legislation.

Now we are working in a focused and constructive manner, according to the wish of the Faeroe Home Government, on devolving a number of new areas of responsibility on the Faeroe Home Government.

When the Faeroe Islands take over the area of social affairs and education, the government co-financing will be discontinued, a budget item of DKK 350 million. This corresponds to our fundamental view that taking over an area under home rule means assuming the responsibility for the financing. The Home Government of the Faeroe Islands has presented the Danish Government with requests for taking over the police, the judiciary and civil law. These are very central areas in a state ruled by law. It is important that devolution of these should be meticulously prepared. It is absolutely essential for the Faeroe society and the rule of law.

The Government has therefore offered the Faeroe Home Government that we initiate the work that may lead to a political decision to the effect that the Faeroe Home Government in a natural and well-planned sequence can take over the police, the judiciary and their related areas.

The preconditions enabling this change are at the same time that legislation should be amended to provide the basis for such a transfer of responsibilities, which are all today regulated through the Home Rule Act. As mentioned, the Government is entirely willing to set this work in motion. It is now up to the Faeroe Islands to make a decision on their participation in such co-operation.

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We must stand united in Denmark

These are new times, and we must now keep Denmark together. We must maintain our communities and our differences. We must recognise that the world has changed, and that more so than previously we must now uphold and protect the values upon which our democracy is built:

Freedom for the individual, safety and security for us all.

We are not to change our way of life, but we intend to strengthen our awareness and strengthen our solidarity.

We must participate internationally, and we must do our utmost.

None of us will ever forget 11 September 2001. As tragic as this terrible terrorist attack was, it may contain the power to introduce a new world order, in which old enemies approach each other and assist each other. A hope for a new world order which we did not quite achieve after the fall of the Berlin Wall.

Perhaps it carries, in the midst of tragedy, the hope of a new global community, in which all who strive for peace and tolerance will be invited.

This places enormous demands on co-operation. It places demands for clear goals for the coming years. We shall rise to the occasion and meet these demands, in a community which is strong inwardly and unbreakable outwardly.

Allow me to propose that we begin the work of the Folketing with a three-fold “long live Denmark”.