Interview on norway: "the whole society stands together"

Norway – an open, liberal society: That was before July 22, 2011. But even after the attacks, that should not change. Prime Minister Stoltenberg is particularly committed to this. In an interview with, ARD correspondent Claudia Buckenmaier speaks about his role and the grief of a nation. Norway had no experience with terrorism and therefore had no experience with this traumatizing situation. Can you briefly describe the mood in the country??

Claudia Buckenmaier: There is currently an incredibly high level of cohesion in the country. People approach each other, hold hands, embrace and comfort each other. They try to be together. And always there: the royal family, the politicians across all parties. You are very close to people. All of Norwegian society stands together. I have the feeling that immediately after the attacks, this society looked for a way to support itself. According to the motto: We are one nation and we will not be shaken by it.

What role does politics play in this? Prime Minister Stoltenberg, for example, has never spoken of revenge, but always of more openness, humanity and democracy.

Buckenmaier: Stoltenberg has a very, very important role in this context. He went ahead immediately after the attacks. He went out to the island of Utoya. He met with the parents and relatives of the young people, and spent the first night with them when it was not yet clear who was dead and who might have survived. He is very close to the people. You can see how affected he is.

Buckenmaier: And that is not a feigned dismay. He was deeply hit and was initially in shock. This was felt very impressively both during the minute’s silence and during the address in the evening. This is how it is perceived by the population.

Claudia Buckenmaier (46) is the director of the ARD television studio in Stockholm. Since 2007 she has been reporting for ARD from Scandinavia and the Baltic States. She is currently reporting from Norway. Before becoming the head of the Stockholm studio, she worked as a correspondent for the ARD television studio in London.

Norway is not an ideal world either Does the Norwegian think differently? When I think back to how George W. Bush swore revenge and declared the war on terror after the 9/11 attacks … Why isn’t there a similar reflex in Norway??

Buckenmaier: There are two reasons. On the one hand, people quickly became convinced that the perpetrator was a lone perpetrator – even if the assassin himself speaks of several cells abroad. The police don’t believe in it. And you simply cannot protect yourself from a lone perpetrator. Second, the Scandinavian societies are – in my opinion – a little bit different. One is a little more level-headed here. Discussions like in Germany about stricter security laws have so far not taken place, or only very quietly. Of course, this is not an ideal world, nor is everything good here. But right now, an intense sense of community is obscuring all political debates. But the debate about the tightening of the sentence is still going on. Extended detention is possible if the assassin is charged with crimes against humanity.

Buckenmaier: I think this is a way of emphasizing the particular cruelty of these attacks. Anyone who asks the people on the streets of Oslo keeps hearing: 21 years – that is the maximum sentence under Norwegian law – that is not enough for what he has done. The 32-year-old’s deeds are so unimaginable that you come to a limit here and say: the laws must be tightened. There are even isolated calls for the reintroduction of the death penalty.


Attacks in Norway: the country is in mourning

The whole country mourns the victims.

All of Norway mourns the victims of the terrorist attacks in Oslo and Utoya. A memorial service for the victims of the Friday attacks was held in Oslo Cathedral on Sunday. People laid numerous flowers in front of the cathedral in Norway’s capital. Could the calls for stricter laws get louder when the names of the dead are published??

Buckenmaier: In any case, another big shock will go through the country. It is also possible that a wave of anger will roll through the country later. But at the moment the grief prevails.

Police backing But there are also initial criticisms – for example, of the police’s deployment on the day of the attacks. It was an hour before the police were on the island. There were no boats, no helicopters.

Buckenmaier: This criticism is currently only voiced in the media. And the Minister of Justice has clearly stood behind the police, but also announced a critical assessment of the police operation. Later, not now. And the discussion about police operations is still very muted among people. The grief prevails. How are the survivors and relatives cared for? What concrete help is there?

Buckenmaier: A crisis center has been set up outside the island. Pastors, psychologists and nurses look after the young people and their parents. And here in Oslo the cathedral has become a very central place of mourning. It is not organized by the state. I was there one evening – it’s amazing what you see there. You walk through the door and it gets really warm because an infinite number of candles are lit. It smells of wax and everything is very, very calm. Here people seek solace and find it. The attacks will change Norway. The open society that Norway was so proud of has come to an end?

Buckenmaier: What’s the alternative? A highly armed surveillance state? Personally, I think it’s very nice that the Norwegians do it differently. I can well understand that Prime Minister Stoltenberg said hours after the attacks: These acts must not destroy our open society. Because then we would give in to the perpetrator, then he would have achieved his goal. And Stoltenberg has been repeating this like a mantra for days. Still, of course the attacks will change the country. Local elections are due in autumn. Maybe then you can see where the country will change.

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