“He lives in his absence”

Published 17 January 2015 in:

Photo: Catarina Axelsson/MFA

He lives in his absence.

Those were the words expressed this morning in an interview for Swedish TV4 by Ms Nina Lagergren, sister of Raoul Wallenberg – the Swedish diplomat who saved tens of thousands of Jews in Budapest before disappearing in Soviet captivity January 17th 1945 i.e. 70 years ago today.

There is something immensely inspiring in those words. The ideals that were driving Raoul Wallenberg – and many more people of his kind – are alive. Everything that now is done to pay tribute to him, and luckily that is becoming more and more, has that kind of consequence.

He lives in his absence; his courage and determination have set an example for us all. One human being can make a difference.

In ten days I am going to participate, for the fourth time, in the commemoration of the liberation of Auschwitz. This time the 70th Anniversary. This hell on earth and the evil forces creating it was what Raoul Wallenberg was fighting against.

The recent tragic and horrific crimes in Paris remind us all that the fight against this kind of evil is a never ending responsibility.

As is the defence for the freedom of speech.

The year 2015 started with these tragedies. And with the killing of innocent Ukrainians in a bus recently in Donbas. I signed the condolence book at the Ukrainian Embassy yesterday. Let’s all hope that what follows later this year will be better, pointing to a brighter future. Not least for the people of Ukraine.

I was happy as always to spend both Christmas and Sylwester in Warsaw together with my family. The Christmas decorations around the city are just wonderful, and this year I was especially impressed by the ones that were placed along Aleja Chińska in the Łazienki Park. Jogging there in the evening among all families taking a walk was a great experience.

Another highlight from the recent weeks was the New Year’s Reception hosted by President Komorowski and his wife Anna in the same nice and relaxed atmosphere as before. It is worth noting that the President always uses these kind of opportunities to convey important messages like this time i.a. about the aggression against Ukraine and the jihadist attacks in France.

For me the reception also gave me an opportunity to reconnect to a former Minister from Tanzania Philip Marmo, now Ambassador in Berlin and also accredited to Warsaw. I had heard the beautiful National Anthem of Tanzania played outside my window earlier the same day, when he presented his credentials, which gave me several memorable flashbacks from my years in Dar es Salaam. I was happy to see this morning that our Minister of Foreign Affairs Margot Wallströmhas  just met President Kikwete of Tanzania and reconfirmed our longstanding close relations with this lovely country.

Now I am looking forward to a new active semester in the Embassy. Yesterday I warmly thanked Ms Ann Marie Bolin Pennegård, who has been my Deputy for five months when Ulrik Tideström has been on parental leave. Next week I will welcome Ulrik back, and we will start the detailed planning of the months that lie ahead. (They will however not need to include anything about Swedish elections since the major parties concluded an agreement around Christmas after which the Prime Minister decided that new elections won’t be necessary.)

Vacation is definitely over. Now we are back to work.