It is by acknowledging the existence of these cultures, by addressing the principles that underlie them and by reaching out to these communities and exposing them to the differences of the countries that they have chosen to immigrate to, that you put a package of choice on the table. [52:25]
You ask: "Do you want this, or, do you want this? Do you want to continue with the old values that you have learned in the country -- we understand that you have learned it, we understand that you were brought up. But the value system here is different. There are two things that you have to choose from. Which one do you choose?"
It's very important to have that honest conversation.
Now, I know what you will say. You will tell me: "Ya, but they will resist." Yes, some will resist. Some will gradually accept. Some have already adjusted well and are not a problem at all. But given the scale of the problem, given the tensions found in Denmark and the rest of Europe between Muslims and non-Muslims. Given the negative consequences that these tensions have for social cohesion, and given the human rights aspects of this clash of cultures, it's important, and above all it's urgent that you think about these problems and you develop these programs.
When I lived in a culture [54:03] of subjection, where the power was divided between the [inaudible] and it was given to the [inaudible] I didn't have a choice. When I came to live, and I've lived here long enough in a culture of citizenship, where people choose their own government, I felt empowered. And what did I do with that power?
I made a choice. And I chose the values that underlie that system of freedom.
The Danish culture, Dutch culture, and American culture have differences -- but they also have important similarities: individual freedom, the preservation of life, the rule of law, freedom of conscience, freedom of expression, freedom of the press, an openness to the world, an appreciation of scientific inquiry, a model of conflict resolution and talking about things and aspiring to reach a consensus.
These cultures are, in my view, worth protecting and conserving [applause] [55:43]
You're party is young. It's only 15 years old. And you have done remarkable performance in agenda setting, and you've been an example to other parties in Europe. But through that aspiration of consensus, you've also chosen not just agenda setting, but to support a coalition, and, therefore, to lend stability to the country, with parties you don't agree with, but that's how democracy works.
When I was here five years ago, I was told odd things about Venstre, the liberal party. I was told -- and you know Venstre is the liberal party, the sister party of the party that I'm a member of, the VVD in the Netherlands. And I was told this was a bad party. They do not want to increase taxes, and they want to apply a restrictive immigration policy. [57:23] Well, five years later, I think those are good policies. Denmark survived the financial crisis.
And, the Danish immigration policies are being copied everywhere in the rest of Europe [applause]. Now I'm proud to tell those folks who said, "don't vote for Venstre": "Look, it was important that they made those policy chages no matter how difficult they were, because the outcome is better than if those policies were not applied.
And the subject of immigration is perhaps the most sensitive issue [58:20]. It is the hot button issue. The only issue that is more hot button, and I think in Europe we pretend -- we are more hypocritical than any other western society. I've been to Australia, people just talk about Islam. In America people just talk about Islam. It's only in Europe that when people want to talk about Islam they talk about immigration. [58:49] And maybe that's the last taboo subject. And I know that your Party does, and other parties do, but I'm talking about the mainstream, and in the mainstream when they just really talk about Islam, when they mean Islam, they talk about immigration.
I can't read Danish. But I heard rumors that your Party wants to stop all immigration from non-western countries. [applause] You do?? [people in audience say "yes"]
But I come from a non-western country! Come on! [people in audience murmur and some laugh]
It's not in my position to tell you what to do. But I would rather that you adopted a different policy. Instead of saying "No" to all non-westerners, I think it would be better if you introduced that choice that I just talked about. [applause] Yeah.
You allow people who promise to adhere to the rule of law, to respect the freedom of others, the freedom of their daughters, who work, who promise to work, and work. You can develop a contract with them. And if they don't meet these demands then you can send them back. [loud applause]
But I think it is wrong, it is morally wrong, to pre-emptively conclude that all non-western immigrants should not, must not come to Denmark [scattered applause]. Where [1:01:00] do you expect immigrants to come from? You want them to come from Germany and Sweden maybe? [half-joking groans and cries of protest and laughs from the audience at the idea of Germans or Swedes immigrating to Denmark]
It would be a loss to those from outside of the West, but it would also be a loss to Denmark, if you can't find that combination, that marriage between people that want freedom, and countries that provide freedom, to find one another. Without being rosy-eyed about it. It's very very important to spell out what Denmark is not about, what Denmark will not accept. But it's also equally important to spell out the characteristics of individuals who are welcome.
It's very important to demand that those "subjects" make the transition to become citizens. To work hard. To learn the language. To find a job. To abide by the law and pledge loyalty to the Danish constitution. [applause]
If it is the Danish culture of openness the Danish culture of freedom the Danish culture of tolerance -- that is what I admire. It is the culture that I subscribe to. And I thought that that's the culture your young party wants to preserve and defend. And if that's the case, you have me on your side. If it's not the case, then I want to spell out that I won't endorse exclusion, blunt exclusion of all non-western immigrants simply because they are non-western.
Thank you for providing me with this platform.
[loud prolonged applause]
Saturday, September 25, 2010