Ladies and gentlemen,
It is a great pleasure for me to welcome you all to Sweden and Göteborg, especially now when nature is blooming and summer is to come. This part of Sweden is known for its warm hospitality.
The freedom of the press is the guiding-star of the World Association of Newspapers. The freedom of the press has a long history in Sweden. And because of that, I am pleased that we have been given the opportunity to host this conference. In fact our first constitutional Act on Freedom of the press was adopted as early as 1766.
To be able to read, to have access to the written word, is crucial for the development of democracy. A democratic society requires openness. Unfortunately there are still too many people around the world, who do not have this right.
As a publisher, you have the final word. However, the exercise of press freedom also requires responsibility.
The written word in the newspapers has an incredible impact on public opinion. The power of your papers, the strength of your pen, has a strong influence on daily life for many people.
At the same time – newspapers have an increased importance in providing analysis and putting news into a broader perspective. The demand for reflection and a wider overview have expanded a lot, when news are spread immediately around the world through internet and mobile phones.
The single individual, who does not have the resources or the possibilities to respond to media publicity, needs protection. And you are the ones who are best suited to provide this protection by exercising your profession.
Still, an institution to which the public can turn with complaints is necessary for the protection of citizens who are not used to dealing with media. Sweden has found a solution in a Press Ombudsman who can refer complaints from citizens to a Press Council that decides on the matter.
The World Association of Newspapers is an experienced guardian of the freedom of the press and the independence of publishers and journalists. The Association has an important role in defending journalists being suppressed by authorities and in working for the release of those who are imprisoned.
And I would therefore take the opportunity to express my respect for Mr Li Changqing from China, who later on in this session will receive the Golden Pen of Freedom.
Finally – I am sure that you, in your meetings and discussions, will find a lot of inspiration and new-finding for thoughts and reflection. I hope you will leave Sweden with impressions and creative ideas that will inspire you in your mission.
With these words I declare the sixty-first World Newspaper Congress as well as the Fifteenth World Editors' Forum open.