Speech by George Papandreou

Speech by the Foreign Minister of Greece, Georgios Papandreou, at the memorial ceremony for Anna Lindh, 19 September 2003




Dear Anna,

There is so much I never had time to say to you.

Do you remember last week? We went to Norrköping. We talked to pupils at the Kungsgårds Upper Secondary School about our common European home. We went to the Greek Association for lunch. You talked about your boys watching the football match between Sweden and Greece.

Do you remember last week when we took leave of one another at Medborgarplatsen? I remember you then. I remember all the times we spent together in the past twenty years. I remember the way in which you saw people. I remember the way in which you met people. With love. With respect.

There is so much I never had time to say to you.

When we last said goodbye.

Your smile shone like the sun. That smile. That spirited smile. Full of fight and will. There is so much I would have liked to say to you Anna. But you know we politicians don't always take the time to express our feelings. You were an exception. Your whole being radiated warmth. You touched our hearts, our senses. You had the courage. You had the courage to be honest. You had the courage of your convictions. You fought for openness, accessibility and everything you did, you did with passion.

You symbolised Sweden. The Sweden we admire. The Sweden I got to know and that we so often talked about. You know, when I was a young boy in exile, when my family sought an oasis in which to be able to breath. A Sweden whose hallmark was democracy and solidarity. A Sweden of peace, freedom and human feeling. A Sweden that has contributed to the new democratic Europe. From the Baltic to the Balkans.

It is no coincidence that we are all gathered here today. From all the corners of the world. From the whole of Europe. The Europe that you defended.

Today we are gathered here to honour Sweden. The country you represented so well. But we are here for you. It is you we grieve. We miss you Anna. Your laughter, your courage, your strength will live on in our hearts.

You made the fight for human rights a personal fight. You dared to have the courage of your convictions in everyday life. You had the courage to be true. You had the ability to succeed and to persuade the rest of us to work in your spirit.

Anna, if you could walk on the streets of Stockholm at this moment, talk to your countrymen as you always did with deep respect and affection, you would find sorrow and pain, love and gratitude. They bring flowers for you Anna. They are bewildered and shaken. And they ask: why? Why again?

It's in human nature to look for answers, to try to understand why our lives can change so abruptly. To try to comprehend the incomprehensible. To grasp what is impossible to grasp.

Many people are wondering, are we naïve? Is our democracy too vulnerable? Difficult questions in a world tarnished by violence and injustice. In a funeral oration, one of our European forefathers, Pericles, tried to explain this. According to him, democracy was not just the freedom to be able to speak openly and engage in public debate. It was above all the freedom to be able to trust one's fellow humans. Freedom from fear and suspicion. No one should believe that violence is the way to win in the world. Anna, you show us that democracy is a way of life, a way of working, a way of being - according to old Greek tradition.

Many think that perhaps you were naive in your courage. I believe you were brave by the very fact of your trust in human beings. You were an example to us all, right up to your final hour. However painful it is, we must take up the fight for the open society we have founded in Europe.

Dear Anna, your husband Bosse and your boys David and Filip have lost a wonderful wife and mother. We want you to know that we are here with you. We want you to know that we Europeans are a big family that keeps you in a warm embrace. You will always have a family in us.

Anna, this time I didn't bring your favourite gift with me, the olive oil you loved. This time I only brought an olive branch. For me Anna, this symbolises all you stood for and all you fought for.

We miss you.

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