Mr. Doyen, Your Excellencies, Ladies and Gentlemen.
It is a great pleasure for me to welcome you to our annual New Year’s reception for the diplomatic corps.
Two years in a row, we have had to cancel this event due to covid-19. I am happy that we are able to meet again. In a still more internationalized world, it is important to engage in peaceful dialogue in order to strengthen mutual understanding. That is why I think that the informal dialogue between Members of Parliament and the diplomatic corps is of great importance.
I had the honour to be elected as Speaker of Parliament after the general election on November 1st last year. The result of the election was remarkable in many ways. The number of women in Parliament increased significantly. Now 44 per cent of the parliamentarians are women. They have won their seats fair and square - without quotas. That makes our Parliament even more representative of the Danish society. Twelve parties managed to pass the 2 per cent threshold rule and become Members of Parliament. That is the highest number ever in a general election.
In the middle of December last year, Denmark got a new government when The Social Democratic Party, The Liberal Party and The Moderates formed a majority government. It is only the second time in history that The Social Democratic Party and The Liberal Party find themselves in the same government. It is my top priority as speaker to ensure a smooth running of the work for all Members of Parliament.
With regard to foreign countries, I would like to strengthen the cooperation between the Danish Parliament and other national Parliaments further. For many years, we have been involved in capacity building in national Parliaments undergoing transition. We will go on with this important work.
International politics is now in many ways an integral part of the agenda of national Parliaments. The climate crisis and the war in Ukraine are obvious examples. The 24th of February 2022 was a dark hour for Europe. The full-scale Russian invasion of Ukraine was horrifying and it was an attack on the rule based world order as well as on the right to self-determination on the part of the nations.
From the beginning of the invasion, the Danish government and the Danish Parliament have been steadfast supporters of Ukraine’s right to defend its territory, its people and its independence. In March 2022, Ukrainian President Zelenskyj, delivered a historic virtual address to the Danish Parliament. This winter, more than ever, Ukraine and the brave Ukrainian people need our support to get through a cold and very difficult period.
In the Danish Parliament, we strongly support international cooperation and conflict resolution. Denmark wholeheartedly supports an international world order based on the rule of law, human rights and democracy.
In September last year, the Danish government launched Denmark’s candidacy for membership of the UN Security Council 2025-26. If the candidacy gets sufficient support, Denmark will be member of the Security Council for the fifth time.
50 years ago – on January 1st 1973 – Denmark joined the European Communities. From the very beginning, Parliament and government agreed to secure a strong parliamentary control with the government’s EU-policy anchored in the European Affairs Committee of Parliament. This scrutiny model has remained unchanged over the past 50 years. At the same time, the European Union has undergone a significant evolution. I am pleased to say, that we have recently adopted new ways of parliamentary scrutiny including much stronger involvement of the sectoral committees.
In the summer of 2022, the Danes voted on Europe again. A large majority voted in favour of scrapping the 30 year-old Danish opt-out on EU Security and defence policy. This means that Denmark is now a full member of the European Union’s common policy on security and defence, and it enables Denmark to take part in joint EU military operations and cooperation. It is also a sign of where we see ourselves: At the core of Europe. And at the same time at the core of NATO.
For me, there is no doubt that one of the greatest successes of the European Union is its contribution to a peaceful and stable Europe after the Second World War. In fact, we have not had any wars between EU Member States since the establishment of the European Communities back in 1957.
Later this year, in October, the Danish Parliament will host the annual session of the NATO Parliamentary Assembly. We expect that more than 600 parliamentarians from around 30 countries will participate. Denmark is one of NATO’s founding fathers and the membership of NATO continues to be a corner stone in our security and defence policy.
We look very much forward to welcoming our Nordic friends, Sweden and Finland, to the alliance and to the NATO Parliamentary Assembly. It will not only strengthen the Alliance but also strengthen the Nordic-Baltic cooperation further.
Last but not least, I would like to emphasize the importance of continuing the good cooperation with the German authorities in the border region and with the relevant Danish and German organizations in the region. That is of great value.
Finally, ladies and gentlemen, I will once again thank you for the excellent cooperation between the Danish Parliament and the diplomatic community. The importance of this cooperation cannot be overestimated.
I wish everyone a happy New Year!