Prime Minister Poul Nyrup Rasmussen
Opening Address to The Danish Parliament, Folketinget
October 2, 2001
There are points of time in history when events in an instant eradicate the
worlds 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
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
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 communitys 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
Denmarks situation after 11 September, as concerns foreign policy and
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 Denmarks new foreign and security
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
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
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
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
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
Tomorrow, the Government will present a proposal for a parliamentary decision
on Denmarks 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
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
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 Governments 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
· 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.
lready 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
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,
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
· 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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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.
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
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.
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.
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.
LONG LIVE DENMARK