Goran Persson: Welcome this New Year with quietness and dignity

From the New Year's address by the Swedish prime minister, given in Skansen, Stockholm
Click to follow
The Independent Online

Never has a new year been greeted with such a heavy heart. For many people in our country this will be the most difficult year they have ever known. A year which in time, of course, will also bring opportunities, happiness, success.

Our great task now is to share a difficult time with each other. To support each other in despair, grief and loss. To stick together through the days, weeks and months.

So it warms my heart to see you all here tonight, standing so close together. There are so many of us, we are strong and we can help each other.

Let our New Year's resolution be this: we will be there for one another as fellow members of humanity, in the finest sense of the word. We will come to meet you who were there when the flood wave drove life towards death.

We who stand here will come to meet others when things are as difficult as they can be. Remember, the burden of sorrow is doubled when it is borne alone. Speak, but even more, listen. Do not be in a hurry, have patience, wait.

Do not be afraid that joy will make the pain worse; it is needed like the air we breathe.

There are only a few minutes left until the stroke of midnight. We should have been celebrating with fireworks and festivities. We can raise our eyes anyway, towards everything that is yet to be born, awoken, to grow into a new era. We welcome the new, and I say: Happy New Year!

At the same time, our thoughts go to all those we are missing, to all those who are tormented by the anxiety of uncertainty, to all those who are afflicted by sorrow.

We are welcoming the year 2005 in quietness and dignity, here at Skansen.