Tal av Chris Patten

Speech delivered by EU Commissioner Chris Patten at the Memorial Service for Anna Lindh, September 19, 2003.




Tribute to Anna Lindh

Few events stop the clocks.

One such was the death of Anna Lindh - a woman who loved the world and who was loved by the world.

When I read the tributes to Anna - the words of the famous, and the words of those who are not famous but whose lives she had touched - I was struck by one thing above all others.  Joy at the memory of her own humanity burst through the bonds of grief.

Evil slouches past into the shadows, but what we all remember is the light.

All who have written about Anna have touched on the qualities so familiar to those fortunate to know her.

She was pretty and brave, witty and professional, charming and kind.

Perhaps undiplomatically we should concede that the arrival of every foreign minister in a room does not necessarily lift the spirits.  But with Anna it was different, blond and smiling cheerfully, a knapsack full of official papers over her shoulder, she took her place at the conference table.  To be with her - can I say this about a foreign minister? - was invariably good fun.

There are three points I want to make about Anna as we saw her in Europe.

First, I have met no one in politics who more naturally and gracefully combined private and public life.  Mother, wife, formidable politician, she took in her stride the pomposities of the chancelleries and never lost touch with the hopes held and the indignities suffered by men and women everywhere. No one was ordinary to Anna, so everyone was capable of being extraordinary.  This attribute, more maybe than any other, meant that she turned politics into an honourable adventure.

Second, Anna had no problem in using the words ethics and foreign policy in the same sentence.  She was not naïve.  She knew that we live in an imperfect world.  But she also knew, and in a thoroughly professional way with a thoroughly professional team of colleagues, she demonstrated that it is invariably right to try to do the right thing.  Morality and expedience are, surprisingly often, close neighbours.

So I witnessed Anna battling away with tyrants and cynics and bullies on issues of human rights and democracy which others would too often tiptoe past. She made her point tenaciously, while her charm contained the fall-out.

Third, how often does a foreign minister represent all the best qualities that the world outside associates with their country?  For us all, Anna was Sweden and we hope to our very marrow that Sweden will go on being Anna.

What condolence can her friends from other countries offer those here who fiercely grieve - her husband, her sons, her family, her Prime Minister, her nation.  Only this perhaps.  We know that life mimics art.  We do not judge a book, a poem or a symphony by its length but by how it touches and moves each one of us.

As music critics have said, the most beautiful symphonies are sometimes those that are unfinished.

And so it is with Anna.  The music will echo and the words and the memories will cascade down the years.

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