Tonight is New Year’s Eve. Behind us lies a whole year of happiness and sadness. For most people, it is the happy moments that stand out most clearly. For others, the sad moments loom largest when looking back.
But before us lies a whole new year, which we already fill with expectations and wishes. “What you wish for, you shall have” are the words of the old Christmas song that many of us have sung. But we know very well that it is not that easy. We expect so much. Perhaps we should rather remember to expect something from each other.
If we have no expectations whatsoever of another person, if we only say: “You can’t possibly manage that”, it is in the air that it probably will not lead to anything. For even though some people react by thinking to themselves “I’ll prove them wrong if it’s the last thing I do”, it may be those words that are the last straw. Saying we do not expect anything, we have perhaps contributed to ruining another person’s future.
We must have expectations of our fellow human beings just as we wish that people expect something from us. It is a matter of trusting each other, of believing in the opportunities for each other.
Therefore, we must talk things up, instead of talking them down.
It starts already in school. Don’t we all remember our time at school? It has left its imprint on us all. Most of us remember a teacher who was particularly good at bringing out the best in every one of us in the class. There is always a need for these teachers, and there are still a great many of these teachers. Right now it is the Christmas holiday; but children and teachers must soon start school again. I wish all of you children who are watching tonight a very happy New Year. After the holiday you will go back to school; then you must show how much progress you can make.
The time will also come when you leave school. What to do then? Should you go for a university degree? Should you become a school teacher? Should you perhaps learn a trade? Become a good carpenter, a skilled mechanic; use your abilities to do something with your hands. Start your own small enterprise or look for a job at a major workplace with many other competent employees.
No matter what you choose, you must make an effort. The first step is the hardest, but it is a great pleasure when it turns out right.
It is my hope that 2015 will be a year in which many young people wish to make an effort – and are successful – also when it is a matter of difficult tasks.
We live in an affluent society. We need not worry about having enough to eat, rather the opposite. Our country is wealthy even though we have experienced years of economic crisis. We are safer here in Denmark than in most other places throughout the world.
Naturally, this is good; but our prosperity must not become a pretext for doing nothing. We must not become so complacent that we do not demand enough of ourselves and each other. On the contrary, we must continue to strive for new knowledge, new skills and new insight. We must continue to do our best. That is the way to keep and develop our affluent and safe society.
This applies to young people just as it applies to all of us. We must make an effort. We must do our best in all aspects of life, also when others need help. Perhaps it is a colleague who needs attention and kindness, just a friendly word, a smile on a dreary day or a helping hand to show that we care about each other. We may also witness how somebody is harassed or bullied. In such cases, it is tempting to think: “I don’t want to get involved. What can I do? Others will have to deal with that.” But if nobody does anything and all sit on the fence, nothing will change for the better. We ourselves may also need another human being to stop and give us a hand.
In the course of the past year we have seen how unrest and uncertainty has spread in many places throughout the world in a way that gives rise to concern. This has also affected countries that are not very far from us. We see patterns emerge that disturbingly bring to mind periods of time we do not wish to experience again. No wonder we are concerned; but we must not take fright. We must hold on to the values that are essential for us – both for our welfare and our safety.
One of the consequences of the present situation is the huge wave of refugees that we see today and which we also experience at close quarters in Denmark.
Recently, thousands of refugees have come to Denmark, very many from the horrifying and protracted civil war in Syria. Everywhere throughout this country, a major effort is being made to help the refugees. The task may seem daunting – to receive so many people from foreign countries and different cultures.
Danish municipalities are facing a huge task, large as well as small municipalities. They receive much help from voluntary organisations and the many individuals who make an effort to render practical assistance and to introduce refugees to Danish society. It is not enough to take care of them, we must also help them to feel at home in society so that they can gain a foothold and manage on their own.
Help alone is not enough. We must also encourage newly arrived persons to build a new existence where they can take responsibility for themselves and do their best to feel at ease in the foreign country, be it for a long or a short period of time.
I wish to thank all those who have involved themselves in rendering assistance. I wish them a happy New Year and I also wish those who have arrived here a happy New Year and a good start here.
In the past year, Greenland has experienced both political turbulence and economic challenges. This was not envisaged only a year ago. We all hope that the New Year will prove a new beginning for Greenland society. In spite of all difficulties, the warmth and high spirits of the people in Greenland has not changed. This was perfectly obvious during the visit of the Crown Prince and his family to Greenland last summer. For the Crown Prince and the Crown Princess it was a happy revisit, and for their children it was an experience they will never forget, an experience that will bring them back to Greenland time and again. It warmed the hearts of us who, as parents and grandparents, could follow the journey from a distance. Together with the Prince Consort I wish to thank everybody in Greenland for the hospitable reception the Crown Prince and his family enjoyed everywhere.
The past year has not been a bad year for the Faroe Islands. There is plenty of initiative and drive among the Faroese. They know the conditions presented by nature and they have got a good grip on the challenges facing them from the international community.
Together with the Prince Consort I send my warmest New Year wishes and greetings to everybody in the Faroe Islands and to everybody in Greenland. Next summer, both of us will visit the Faroe Islands as well as Greenland; we are looking forward to that with great expectations.
On 18 April this year, the whole country commemorated the attack on the Dybbøl position in 1864 and the defeat which left its mark on Denmark in matters large and small. Also this year, we commemorate the centennial of the outbreak of World War I, the war that left its blood-stained mark on most European countries, but which Denmark was not involved in. However, the outcome of that war was also the reason why the people of South Jutland were able to vote for reunification with Denmark in 1920. A deep wound was going to heal.
Still, this did not apply to all with pro-Danish sympathies. Those in South Schleswig were not included. “You will not be forgotten” said King Christian X at the new border at Kruså when he met with Danish-minded people from South Schleswig during the celebrations of the Reunification in 1920. “You have not been forgotten” we can say today even though your fate turned out differently. You have held on to your Danish heritage for generations, and you have added a feature to the border country that is unique among border areas worldwide. I wish to send my warmest New Year greetings to everyone in South Schleswig.
Every year, Denmark sends many people to distant places in the world. This applies to our soldiers who in Afghanistan and Iraq help to train these countries’ own soldiers. It applies to our seamen who have transported toxic chemicals away from Syria, or who have been on patrol off the Horn of Africa. Also the Danish Air Force is active in the airspace over Iraq. Others are, or have been, sent abroad to provide emergency relief assistance of various kinds. Here I wish to mention in particular the Danish doctors and nurses who have agreed to be sent to Africa to engage in the fight against the terrible Ebola epidemic. The effort they are prepared to make deserves our highest praise. On this New Year’s Eve, I wish to thank them all for their selfless effort and wish them and other Danes posted abroad, wherever they are in the world, a happy New Year.
I wish to send my New Year greetings to all who are struggling with illness, grief and difficult problems. It can be particularly hard on a New Year’s Eve when others are celebrating and are happy. May the New Year bring you all comfort and new courage.
Many Danes celebrate the New Year outside Denmark. Whether they are near or far away, whether they have left home for a short period of time or have settled more permanently abroad, I wish them a happy New Year. They contribute to making Denmark known throughout the world.
For me and my family, this year has brought us so many joys. I am thinking of our visits to various parts of the country and of the attention the Prince Consort received on his 80th birthday. It has warmed his heart, just as it has warmed the hearts of all our family. A heartfelt thank you!
May the New Year 2015 bring much good with it! To each and every one of you, to all families and to our country.