Attacks will change Norway, but it must keep values: PM

25th July 2011, Comments 0 comments

Norwegian Prime Minister Jens Stoltenberg admitted Monday that his country would be changed by the mass killing last week, but vowed to ensure it remains an open and democratic society.

In the wake of Friday's attacks that killed at least 76 people, Stoltenberg told the BBC: "I believe that Norway will change. We will have a Norway before and a Norway after the bomb attack and the killing.

"But I believe at the same time that Norway will be possible to recognise.

"We will still be a society which is very clear on our values of democracy, of openness and a society where we welcome people to be active, participate in political work in a way where they can feel safe."

Speaking from his official residence, Stoltenberg said Norway had been prepared for acts of terror but could never have imagined such violence.

"It is a very great difference between some exercises and some theoretical preparedness and to really experience the kinds of attacks we did on Friday with a big bomb and the killing of more than 90 people in Oslo and at the youth camp outside Oslo," he said, using the original death toll before it was downgraded.

He said: "Norway is a country where we all feel very close to each other and we have never experienced anything like this before.

"We have to go back to the Second World War to find any kind of violence which is similar to what we experienced on Friday.

"Therefore people in Norway are in deep grief, they are still shocked but we also see a Norway which is very unified, where people are standing really together to comfort each other and to take care of each other."

A 32-year-old man, Anders Behring Breivik, has admitted to being behind the massacre, and he appeared at a closed hearing in an Oslo court on Monday.

Stoltenberg said that "as far as I know, or the police, they don't have any records, any information about him being a threat or a dangerous person".

"One possible explanation for that is, of course, that if he acted alone it was more difficult to discover, and to see and to know it beforehand," he said.

Asked to explain how a Norwegian citizen could become so extreme, he replied: "No society, and we've seen that in many societies, is able to 100 percent protect itself against acts of terror, acts of violence."

Norway "will learn" from the tragedy, he said, "but I will do whatever I can to make sure that we do not change in a way which undermines our core values of openness, democracy and participation".

© 2011 AFP

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