Folketingets formands tale til det diplomatiske korps 2024

Mr. Doyen, Your Excellencies, Ladies and Gentlemen.

I warmly welcome you to the Danish Parliament’s annual New Year’s reception for the diplomatic corps.

Let me start by thanking all of you for the excellent collaboration between the Danish Parliament and the diplomatic community. I have enjoyed our many fruitful conversations. I know this is also the case for my colleagues in Parliament who represent all parts of the Kingdom of Denmark.

It has been a busy year – both inside and outside parliament.

First of all, Denmark has now had a majority government for well over a year. This is very rare in Denmark, and it has affected our work in Parliament. We have seen the formation of new alliances between parties.

Last year also marked 50 years of Danish membership of the European Union. The Danish Parliament celebrated the anniversary by a number of events. To give an example, in February, 500 Danish citizens participated in online dialogues with members of Parliament to discuss Denmark’s future in Europe. Just before Christmas a broad agreement between all but four parties agreed on a new agreement which for the first time in 15 years sets a new framework for Denmark’s engagement in the EU.

On New Year’s Eve Her Majesty the Queen announced that she will step down as Queen of Denmark the 14th of January and entrusts the throne to His Royal Highness the Crown Prince. This is truly a historic decision with great importance for all parts of the Kingdom of Denmark. The succession will take place at a State Council at Christiansborg Palace. It will be followed by the proclamation of His Majesty King Frederik the 10th from the balcony of Christiansborg Palace.

These historical events also have major implications for the work of the Parliament. Many schedules had to be amended. For obvious reasons I had to postpone my planned trip to Israel this week, where I was going to meet my dear colleague, the Speaker of Israels Parliament. I am looking forward to undertake the trip as soon as possible. It is also my intention to talk to representatives from the Palestinian Authority in Ramallah at the same occasion.

Last year, a number of international issues were at the top of the Parliament’s agenda. Almost two years have passed since, Russia launched an illegal and unjustifiable full-scale attack on Ukraine. This is not only an attack on a sovereign nation. It is also an attack on the rule-based world order and fundamental values.

Since day one of the invasion, the Danish government – as well as all parties in Parliament have been united in their support for Ukraine and its right to defend its territory, its people, and its independence.

I had the great honor of welcoming President Zelensky to the Danish Parliament on the 21st of August. The president received strong support from all members of Parliament, who affirmed that Denmark continues to support Ukraine’s fight for freedom and self-preservation.

Russia’s war on Ukraine was also at the forefront of discussions at the Annual Session for NATO’s Parliamentary Assembly, which was hosted by the Danish Parliament in October. This was the largest international event held by the Danish Parliament in many years. More than 600 participants from more than 50 different nations participated during the four days. Finland participated for the very first time as a member of NATO. It is my sincere hope that Sweden will very soon be joining the alliance as a full member.

Sadly, the session was interrupted by the tragic events that took place on 7 October in Israel, when the terror organization Hamas attacked civilians. Men, women and children. The Danish Government has condemned the attack in the strongest terms. My thoughts and prayers are with the victims, hostages, and their families. As mentioned earlier I will soon travel to Israel and visit my colleague, the Speaker of Knesset.

The conflict between Israel and Hamas has now led to an increasing humanitarian catastrophe in Gaza. The Danish government has decided to increase the humanitarian contribution to civilians in Gaza, not least to help the many children who are severely impacted.

Now, I will turn to the year that is ahead of us.

The Danish artist Storm P. once said: “It is difficult to make predictions, especially about the future”. However, I dare to make one particular prediction for the year of 2024. I am convinced that 2024 will be another year of challenges. Some we know already, and others are yet to be seen. Therefore, in this new and ever-changing security environment, it is even more important to maintain strong diplomatic and international commitments.

It gives me great pleasure to say that Denmark is opening three new embassies this year: in Moldova, in Bosnia and Herzegovina, and in Malaysia. Moreover, the planned closure of the embassy in Tanzania has been cancelled.

While we may be facing a number of unforeseen challenges this year, there is at least one event that we know for sure will take place in 2024. 9th of June the elections for the European Parliament will be held in Denmark along with the elections in the rest of the European Union. More than 400 million voters will head to the polling stations across the EU. In the previous elections of 2019, Denmark had a record high voter turnout of 66 per cent. I hope we will see a high level of participation this summer too.

As I am sure you know, Denmark is a candidate for a non-permanent seat at the United Nations’ Security Council for 2025 and 2026. Denmark has already been a four-time member of the Council, and I hope that you will all support our efforts for a fifth turn. Denmark’s slogan for the campaign is: “Equality, Security and Action”. This underlines the core values of Denmark and the founding principles of the United Nations.

This year, the Parliament will also take on the chairmanship of the Baltic Sea Parliamentary Conference. The BSPC was established in 1991 as a forum for political dialogue after the Cold War. Sadly, the Baltic region is once again reminded of the Cold War period.  And the security situation in the neighbourhood of Denmark has also changed. But we stand together. The Danish presidency of the BSPC will focus on Safety in the Baltic Region: Energy supply security, Defense, and Climate.

Let me end my speech by reminding you of one very important event that will take place in Germany this summer. The European Football Championship. I do not dare predict the outcome of the event. I will keep my fingers crossed that Denmark will – once again – meet Germany in the final. I do not want to rub salt in the German ambassador’s wound by reminding him of the match, but I can assure you that everyone in Denmark knows how the previous match ended.

Happy New Year! Cheers.