(The spoken version shall take precedence)
During one of my foreign trips I met an old man who, after nearly 2 decades as a refugee in a camp, still carried his key to his home. He had a dream that his children and grandchildren one day would be able to go back to live in safety and in peace.
I sometimes think of his destiny, the key that he carried as a valuable treasure and his dream of a bright future, where – if not he - at least his family would be part of a society where they could feel welcome and respected.
Mr. Secretary General,
Mr. Prime Minister,
Ladies and gentlemen,
As long as we know, people have moved across geographic, cultural and religious borders for many different reasons. People have left their native environment of free will, out of curiosity to explore the world.
But people have also left because they have been forced to find their living, work and home somewhere else due to political or religious conflict or for economic reasons.
Sweden has been built during centuries by native Swedes - but also by migrants. The iron ore industry, vital to our economy for so many years, could not have been developed without the know-how of the Walloons who came and settled here in the early 17th century.
And in the middle of the past century a large number of migrants from Finland and Southern Europe played an important role in the industrial development that laid the foundation for the welfare state of Sweden.
But Swedes have also left their home and country to find a better life elsewhere. At the end of the 19th century a third of our population, made the risky journey across the sea to the Americas. Most of them came from the middle of Sweden where the possibilities to earn a living at that time were extremely poor.
Today many young Swedes look for an opportunity to find work next door, in Norway and Denmark, or in other parts of Europe.
Swedes are not unique in this case. Mobility across borders belongs to our modern, global society. The international community has a common responsibility in facilitating for migrants to adjust to their new environment by meeting them with respect and generosity to enable them to use their qualifications and capacity, to contribute to their new community.
Last fall I had the privilege to attend the high level dialogue on migration and development in the UN General Assembly. I am proud that my country has been an active partner since the beginning of the international cooperation in this field.
Hosting the summit here in Stockholm is the peak of the eighteen months of Sweden’s Chairmanship of the Global Forum of Migration and Development. I hope this summit will give a real imprint in the shape of actions to maximize the positive conditions and effects of migration.
Let us aim at building a world where everyone is a natural part of society.
Where everyone is allowed to share and contribute.
Where everyone can feel included and respected.
I will always remember the old man with his rusty key to his old home. For me he embodies the plight but also the dreams of all those that are forced to leave their homes.
All of us have the same responsibility to turn the disadvantages of migration into advantages. The international community has all to gain from the injection of new ideas created by migration.