(To be checked against delivered speech)
Governments throughout the world are faced with an increase in everyday violence, which poses a threat not only to individual citizens, but to the stability of our societies. Sadly, we are by now familiar with the shock and outrage we feel when confronted with yet another act of violence, such as the killing of a school teacher by one of his pupils in the Netherlands earlier this year.
Determined action must be taken on all levels if we are to eradicate violence.
- For governments of member States, it means promoting social cohesion and tolerance, and developing national anti-violence policies.
- For local authorities it means creating towns where different people can live together.
First we want to thank all that made it possible for us to be here. Especially the people of the Council of Europe and our Ministry of Foreign Affairs.
Seven years ago Bart Wisbrun started the Foundation against mindless violence after yet another horrible case of violence. This time with a deadly outcome. To respect this The Netherlands went silent for 1 minute. After that, daily life went on. But not for victims or the ones who are left behind.
One minute of silence is not enough. More has to be done to prevent violence. It was time for a permanent signal against aggression and violence. A signal that is recognizable to all. For people to gather behind. A symbol of love, hope and good wishes. The ladybird.
7 Years later. The ladybird is unmistakable the Dutch National symbol against aggression and mindless violence. Over 300.000 people wear the ladybird pin. Thousands of pavement stones with the ladybird are placed everywhere in the streets. Greater awareness is achieved. More and more people combine forces in this campaign to make a change. Our Foundation strongly believes that if we want to decrease aggression and violence, we can’t just simply wait for the government to take action. Our whole society has to take responsibility. There are countless causes for this problem. There will never be just a simple solution. Every small effort makes a difference. Together they will make thé difference.
Today we stand here. Honoured and filled with hope. By placing this symbolic stone, we feel that the efforts of the Foundation are recognized and supported. We feel a sense of partnership. Society and government support one another, join forces. Together we can make that difference. Until yesterday just in the Netherlands. Today here in Strasbourg. In the future hopefully throughout Europe. Aggression and mindless violence are not bound by borders. Same goes for the solutions
Mister Balkenende, we thank you for your support. Mister Schwimmer, we thank you for this opportunity and your personal statement for peace.
Ladies and gentlemen,
I have just delivered a speech to the Council of Europe about the fundamental importance of shared values. The Council of Europe is an institution based on shared values. The fact is that values know no borders. They should therefore be shared by all the people of Europe. Yet the facts do not always bear this out.
There has been a surge of aggression and violence in recent years. And the anxiety the public feels has grown alarmingly. Over the past few years, several violent incidents, some fatal, have occurred in the Netherlands. Aggression and the use of violence have also increased in schools and other public and semi-public places, to the deep distress of the people.
Prompted by these events, one individual launched the idea of setting up an organisation to campaign against mindless violence. Its emblem, the ladybird, is recognised in the Netherlands as a symbol against aggression and violence. The organisation has installed paving stones decorated with a picture of a ladybird in towns and cities all over the country. They serve as a protest against violence and remind us of the need to remain vigilant.
The fact that the organisation was established by an ordinary member of the public makes its work all the more effective. It is the voice of the people affirming the importance of values like tolerance, respect and responsibility.
The Netherlands is not alone in its fight against mindless violence. Almost every country in Europe is plagued by the problem. But today, for the first time, our ladybird has spread its wings and flown abroad.
The organisation set up to combat violence has achieved a great deal in the Netherlands. I am confident that this paving stone here in Strasbourg, outside the head office of the Council of Europe, will highlight the importance of projects of this kind. I trust that the ladybird will become a symbol of protest against violence and aggression throughout Europe.