It is New Year's Eve. In a few hours the Copenhagen Town Hall bells will toll. The new year 2013 is here. Of this we can be certain, and we look forward to it in hope and anticipation, but we cannot predict what it will bring us, our society, or Denmark.
We try to predict, we make estimates, we do our best not to be taken by surprise by the course of events. The new year will always be unknown territory. Therefore it is not only a matter of what will happen, but a question of how we cope with it.
We Danes have always regarded ourselves as hard-working and enterprising. The Danish society did not evolve of itself. Our society is a result of the efforts we have made through the ages to shape the future and to ensure progress: Capable tradesmen have been selling Danish goods to foreign countries. Fearless seamen have sailed all over the world. Persistent farmers have reclaimed the moors of Jutland. Industrious workers and craftsmen have played their part for Denmark to become what it is today.
That is how we have jointly developed our society and that is how we would like it to continue.
In times of crisis, difficulties may seem enormous and obstacles insurmountable, impossible to overcome. Therefore the outlook for tomorrow may seem grim for those on the sidelines, if one is left out, while the wheels are turning, and one is unemployed or in fear of becoming so. Today, our society contributes greatly to solving these problems. We must be careful, however, not always to leave everything to society alone to straighten things out. We must begin with ourselves, with those close to us and with those we encounter along the way. Each one of us can help so much with an encouraging remark, a helping hand, respect and consideration for the other person.
It has always been one of our strengths here in Denmark that we know each other inside and out and that even our geographical distances are short. The crisis in which our world finds itself today, and which is also felt in Denmark, should call for all our creativity and enterprise to the benefit of everyone and to all: for the future of our country.
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In difficult times we should not only be aware of outside factors. We should also keep in mind how we personally react to each other and to ourselves.
The current tendency is to imagine the perfect life with spouse, children, an inspiring job, exciting hobbies, and a youthful appearance irrespective of age. Who could hope to live up to all that? Why should we? Sooner or later we may all come up against hardship. We shall all break our necks in a crisis, if only the perfect - and superficial - life is good enough!
To me, it seems that young people especially are vulnerable. The modern means of communication like the internet and Facebook offers fantastic opportunities, but can be dangerous too. The very young can so easily become addicted, that they practically live in cyberspace, so that life is lived in a parallel universe in a display window, in which appearances are more important than essence. But the young generation must strive to be themselves, not only as a group, but also as individuals. It is our duty to help them along; not by paving their way, but by instilling them with confidence, so that they can manage their own lives.
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Tomorrow, on January 1st, it is 40 years ago that Denmark joined the European Union. The European Union was established on the grounds of a Europe in ruins after the Second World War. It was created to recognize the need for rebuilding and cooperation across the borders.
Through our entry we manifested our already existing conditions, both economically and geographically: that we are a part of the continent of Europe, that our culture, our history, our everyday life are influenced by our being a part of Europe.
It was a big step for us; and it did not come about without being questioned, but it remains a fact that our continent via the European Union has enjoyed a blossoming, which everybody has benefited from, and that we have experienced increasing peace after centuries of war, unrest and mutual distrust. We must cherish these benefits.
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During the autumn it was a pleasure for me to make a short visit to Greenland, on the occasion of the merging of the Island Command Faroes and the Island Command Greenland into the new Arctic Command with headquarters in Nuuk. The new command is testament to our response to the new challenges and possibilities, brought about by the developments in the Arctic.
Greenland especially is facing decisions of great importance to the development of its society. This is something we must all be aware of in the North and in the South.
Certainly, thousands of miles lie between Denmark, Greenland and the Faroe Islands, but in the Unity of the Realm our mutual connection and common history manifest themselves. My family and I have always felt a strong connection to both Greenland and the Faroe Islands. With these words I send my warmest New Year wishes and greetings to everyone in Greenland and to everyone in the Faroe Islands.
I also send my warm New Year greeting to the Danish minority in South Schleswig. Here the Danish spirit lives on. It is deeply rooted in old traditions, but clearly visible also in our time. The fact that this Danish spirit is permitted to blossom south of the border, I see as a sign of friendship, respect and good-neighbourliness between Danes and Germans.
I extend my greeting and good wishes to everyone celebrating New Year far from Denmark. My greeting goes especially to our soldiers and other deployed personnel in dangerous outposts. Their great and brave contribution does Denmark credit. I wish them and their families a Happy New Year. May they all come home safely.
Tonight, my thoughts also go out to our veterans and their families. To some of them, their deployment is not a finished chapter, because they and their families must battle with the consequences of what they have been through. May the New Year bring them renewed courage and may we all take part in securing their future also.
A society like ours would not function, if it were not for those, who, even on New Year’s Eve, stay at their posts to ensure safety for us all. I wish each and every one of them a Happy New Year and thank them for their efforts.
On New Year’s Eve it is customary to gather friends and family, and to reminisce about the year that has passed and what it brought us. Often we sorely miss people who are dear to us, perhaps because they are far away. But sometimes one or more are missed, because we shall never be with them again. My New Year thoughts go to anybody, who is left with that sorrow and that loss.
To me the year 2012 has in many ways been signified by the 40 year jubilee. On the last evening of the year I would like to offer my thanks for all the kindness shown to me throughout the year, so to speak every single day. It has delighted me and warmed me more than I can say.
Throughout the year my family has felt surrounded by warm attention and sympathy. This came to the fore not the least when Prince Joachim’s and Princess Marie’s little daughter was born in January and at her christening later in the year.
I wish everyone a happy and blessed New Year.
GOD BLESS DENMARK
Published December 31, 2012