Speech

The Prime Ministers speech for British, Lithuanian and Danish soldiers in Camp May 23. 2006

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Colonel Berg, British, Lithuanian and Danish soldiers. Civilian Danish personnel. It is a pleasure to have this opportunity to meet and talk to you, the people at the very front of our policy on Iraq.

First of all, I would like to tell you that I am incredibly proud of you. You serve under hard and dangerous conditions in Iraq. You show great courage. You are making a competent and admirable effort. You represent solid values.

You deserve the deepest respect and broad support from your countries and compatriots.

Considering all the risks and dangers, I know that it may be hard for your families and relatives when you are serving far away from home. Therefore, my thanks and respect goes also to your families and loved ones.

That you perform your duties at great personal risk has been painfully evident during your tour. The lives of British and Danish soldiers have been lost. My thoughts are with their families and with you, their friends and fellow soldiers. Allow me a few words in Danish

Som statsminister føler jeg et personligt ansvar for hver enkelt af jer. Når overkonstabel Jesper Nielsens og premierløjtnant Bjarke Kirkmands liv går tabt i et fejt terrorangreb, og når jeg sidder og skriver til de pårørende, må jeg selvfølgelig overveje om vi gør det rigtige. Om vores indsats nytter.

Men jeg er ikke i tvivl om, at det nytter. På trods af disse afskyelige terrorangreb på jer, på irakiske helligdomme og på uskyldige civile. På trods af terroristernes forsøg på at afspore den politiske proces. På trods af alle mulige genvordigheder i den politiske proces er der en politisk og økonomisk udvikling i gang. Det går langsomt. Det gør det nogen gange i politik. Men hjulene begynder at dreje i Irak.

Vi er taknemmelige for, at I har modet og viljen til at skabe et bedre liv for den irakiske befolkning. Der står respekt om jeres arbejde, og I kan med rette være stolte af jeres indsats.

British, Lithuanian and Danish soldiers, you are on an important mission. An important mission for liberty, peace and prosperity. You are here to assist the Iraqi people to build a free and democratic society.

After generations of suppression, it is a difficult task. Forces of darkness try to block the road towards democracy, with all means. Because they fear freedom, enlightenment and democracy.

But the terrorists cannot be allowed to win. We must succeed in our efforts to extend liberty to the Iraqi people. When 12 million people went to the polls to elect a new parliament, despite the terrorist threats, the Iraqis clearly demonstrated their desire for liberty and democracy

Last weekend, a new Iraqi government was formed. A new, broadly based government. The first government based on a democratically adopted constitution and free and fair parliamentary elections.

We owe it to the Iraqi people to stay. To help ensure security and reconstruction. Our goal is clear: For the Iraqi people to become masters in their own house. To take over responsibility for their own security – the sooner, the better. The goal is clear: Foreign soldiers will be leaving Iraq as soon as the Iraqis can take over responsibility themselves.

But if we leave now, we would leave the young Iraqi democracy unsafe and threatened by extremists, fanatics and terrorists. We have to finish our job.

Next week we expect the Danish parliament to pass a new 12-month mandate for our presence in Iraq. It is the right thing to do.

You, the soldiers in the field, are able to see the difference you are making for ordinary Iraqis – the hospital, the health clinic, the waterline, the voters on the way to the polling stations.

You know better than anybody that you have made progress in the training of Iraqi security forces. That they are evolving and eager to take on the responsibility for security in their own country. But you also know that they are not ready yet.

Hopefully, we will see steady progress in the coming months.

* * *

Let me say to our British and Lithuanian friends: We deeply appreciate the close cooperation with you. We are here together because we share the same values, the same belief in liberty and human rights.

And let me say to all of you: You have before you a tremendous and difficult task. The challenges and risks are there for everybody to see. But I am convinced that you, the soldiers, with your professionalism, persistence and positive approach will be able to improve conditions for the Iraqi people.

I wish you all the best for the rest of your tour of duty here. Stay safe.

Jeg ønsker jer al mulig held og lykke i jeres videre arbejde.

Thank you.