Check against delivery
Ladies and gentlemen.
Welcome to Denmark. To Copenhagen. And to this year’s International Anti-Corruption Conference.
It is the first time in many years that the conference takes place in this part of the world.
It is a pleasure and honour for us to have you all here – and I would like to thank Transparency International and the IACC Council for choosing Denmark as host.
I hope you didn’t have too much trouble finding us. We are a small country after all.
In fact, if you try to google the term “Getting to Denmark”, you will not find a road map.
The first thing you will find is a vision. Expressed by the famous professor Francis Fukuyama.
A vision of how to develop a prosperous and un-corrupt society. That actually works.
Why Denmark, some might ask?
Because in Denmark we have managed to combine very low levels of corruption – with a high degree of social trust – and a well-functioning set of institutions.
Characteristics we share with the other Nordic countries.
Therefore, I am pleased to see that there is a special Nordic Pillar in the programme of this year’s conference. I think we have a lot of valuable insights to bring to the discussions.
Does this mean that we are perfect?
No – of course not.
No country in the world is free of corruption.
And let us be honest. Denmark also has room for improvement.
Within the last couple of months, we have witnessed disgraceful examples of money laundering and what seems to be fraud with public means.
We are not used to have such kind of issues. That’s why we are shocked, when they occur.
But most of all we are offended. Because fraud and money laundering undermine one of the most important pillars in a society:
Our trust. In institutions. In companies. In each other.
If we cannot trust the integrity of public institutions. We end up losing support to tax based welfare.
If we cannot trust our financial system – it will lead to a general lack of confidence in the way our society works.
And a country of mistrust – is a country in trouble. Because mistrust tends to spread like a disease. Creating communities without cohesion. Countries without stability.
This is why the fight against corruption is so important.
It is of fundamental importance to the stability of our societies.
Instead of claiming to be flawless – we must acknowledge our challenges. Insist on openness and transparency.
And in the same time we must protect those independent watchdogs who keep an eye on people in power.
In many countries this is dangerous job.
Today I’d like to say, to all of you activists and journalists – who are fighting corruption – despite of the personal risks:
You have my outmost respect and admiration. Denmark is on your side.
We share and support your vision of an open and operational system that holds people accountable in accordance with the law.
No one above. No one beyond.
Hopefully, getting to Denmark will bring you closer to that vision.
In any case – the value of working together – across civil society, journalists, academia and representatives from both the public and the private sector – cannot be overestimated.
Denmark has a long tradition of such cooperation.
We have realized that when sectors are working separately – they often only produce words and processes. But when they work together, they make a lasting difference.
I hope all of you will be both inspired and productive in the next three days. Raising awareness, bringing fruitful discussions, and hope of a better future.
Have a great conference.