Voices from Russia

Monday, 25 July 2011

Prime Minister Jens Stoltenberg’s Remarks at the Memorial Service on 24 July 2011 at the Oslo Domkirke for the Victims of the Recent Terrorist Attacks

Norwegian Prime Minister Jens Stoltenberg (1959- )


Your Majesties,

Dear Eskil,

Dear all of you,

It’s nearly two days since Norway was hit by the worst atrocity it’s seen since the Second World War, on Utøya, and in Oslo. It seems like an eternity. These have been hours, days, and nights filled with shock, despair, anger, and weeping. Today is a day for mourning. Today, we’ll allow ourselves to pause. Remember the dead. Mourn those who are no longer with us. 92 lives have been lost. Several people are still missing. Every single death is a tragedy. Together they add up to a national tragedy.

We’re still struggling to take in the scale of this tragedy. Many of us know someone who’s been lost. Even more know of someone. I knew several. One of them was Monica. She worked on Utøya for 20 years or so. For many of us, she was Utøya. Now, she’s dead. Shot and killed whilst providing care and security for young people from all over the country. Her husband John, and daughters Victoria and Helene are in Drammen Church today. It’s so unfair. I want you to know that we’re weeping with you. Another is Tore Eikeland, Leader of the Labour Youth League in Hordaland, and one of our most talented young politicians. I remember him being met with acclaim by the whole Labour national congress when he gave a stirring speech against the EU Postal Directive, and won the debate. Now, he’s dead. Gone forever. It’s incomprehensible. These are two of those we’ve lost.

We’ve lost many more on Utøya and in the government offices. We’ll soon have their names and pictures. Then, the full extent of this evil act will become apparent in all its horror. This will be a new ordeal. However, we’ll get through this too. Amidst all this tragedy, I’m proud to live in a country that has managed to hold its head up high at a critical time. I’ve been impressed by the dignity, compassion, and resolve I’ve met. We’re a small country, but a proud people. We’re still shocked by what’s happened, but we’ll never give up our values. Our response is more democracy, more openness, and more humanity. However, never naïveté. No one’s said it better than the Labour Youth League girl who was interviewed by CNN, “If one man can create that much hate, you can only imagine how much love we as a togetherness can create”.

Finally, I’d like to say to the families all over the country who have lost one of their loved ones… You have my and the whole of Norway’s deepest sympathy for your loss. Not only that… the whole world shares your sorrow. I’ve promised to pass on the condolences of Barack Obama, Vladimir Putin, Frederik Reinfeldt, Angela Merkel, David Cameron, Dmitri Medvedev, and many other heads of state and government. This cannot make good your loss. Nothing can bring your loved ones back. However, we all need support and comfort when life is at its darkest. Now, life is at its darkest for you. I want you to know that we’re there for you.

24 July 2011

Office of the [Norwegian] Prime Minister



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