Prime Minister Jens Stoltenberg speaks to parliament.Prime Minister Jens Stoltenberg speaks to parliament.

Stoltenberg: "Freedom of speech will be our weapon"

8/1/2011 // On Monday August 1st, Prime Minister Jens Stoltenberg addressed the Norwegian parliament, Stortinget, during the memorial for victims of the tragedy of 22 July, 2011.

Your Majesty,
Your Royal Highness,
Mr President,

The Norwegian people were put to the ultimate test on 22 July.
The map was torn apart.
The compass shot to pieces.
Each and every one of us had to find our way through a landscape of shock, fear and devastation.

It could have gone very badly.
We could have got lost.

But the Norwegian people found their way.
Out of darkness and uncertainty, home to Norway.

Today I want to express my appreciation for this.

We are still a country in mourning.
We are burying our dead from Utøya and the government offices.

Parents are sitting by hospital beds.
Many are weeping.
Hearts are bleeding.
We will continue to comfort those who mourn.
Take care of those who are struggling.
Honour the dead.

But now it is also time to say thank you.

I would like to thank His Majesty The King, His Royal Highness The Crown Prince and the whole of the Royal Family for the warmth and compassion they have shown.

I would like to thank the Storting for its willingness and ability to stand together at a time when the nation needed unity.

There are many more who deserve our thanks.
The police.
The fire and rescue services.
Health personnel.
The armed forces.
The civil defence.
The Norwegian Church and other religious and belief communities.

Voluntary organisations.
Volunteers who provided invaluable help in the government office complex and on Utøya
Employees in the affected ministries.
The staff of Sundvolden Hotel.
All those around the Tyrifjorden lake who took resolute action.

Many of them put their own lives at risk.

On Sunday 21 August, we will pay tribute to their courage at a national memorial for all those who were directly affected and all those who have helped.

I would also like to express my gratitude for kind words and condolences from all over the world.
For letters, flowers, messages of support on Facebook and other social media.
We have felt that we are not alone. This has given us strength.

But my warmest thanks go to the Norwegian people.

Who took responsibility when it was most needed.
Who retained their human dignity.
Who chose democracy.

And the foremost amongst them are the young people.
The Labour Youth League came under fire.
But a whole generation has mobilised in sorrowful protest.

The 22 July generation are our heroes, our hope.

This means that we can look to the future with renewed confidence in our fundamental values.
And with the hope that the commitment to decent dialogue and greater tolerance will continue to grow.

This time of mourning has made many of us stop and think about our own standpoints.
Reflect on our thoughts and words.
In hindsight – after the tragedy of 22 July – we may well realise that we should sometimes have expressed ourselves differently.
And we will choose our words more carefully in the future.

But I would ask people not to start a witch hunt, not to go looking for things that should not have been said.

We have shown extraordinary solidarity during this surreal period. Now we must continue to meet each other with good will.
We can all learn something from this tragedy.
We may all need to say, “I was wrong”, and we should all be met with respect.

This is equally true in everyday conversations and in the public debate.

It applies to politicians and editors.
It applies in the canteen at work and on the Internet.
It applies to us all.

As politicians, we promise that we will take the spirit of 22 July with us when we start up normal political activities once again.

We will show the same wisdom and respect as the Norwegian people have done.

With freedom of speech as our weapon, and in the best traditions of this chamber, we will ensure that human dignity and security win over fear and hatred.

We owe this to the Norwegian people.


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