Following the horrendous attacks in Norway on Friday July 22, leaving 76 people dead, Prachatai visited the Royal Norwegian Embassy in Bangkok to express sincere condolences and sympathies in connection with the Embassy’s condolence service and for an interview with Mr. Erik Svedahl, Minister Counsellor.
Mr. Erik Svedahl (Photo: Kaptan Jungteerapanich)
What is your personal reaction to what happened?
“I think the same as everybody else, great shock and disbelief that something like this could happen, especially in Norway. We are not used to having this type of things happening. As somebody else has said, it is the most tragic thing that has happened in Norway since World War II. Not only the brutality of the attack but also the scope. The number of people affected was quite unbelievable”
Would you say that anything like this could have been foreseeable?
“No, I don’t think anybody could expect something like this. We were not prepared for something like this to happen. Norway is generally a very peaceful place so this came as a total surprise”
Do you think the attacks portray Norway as a base for far-right movement compared to other European countries?
“I don’t think we can say it is a base for far-right extremist movements. Of course, as any other European country we have those kinds of groups but I don’t think they are very large. One thing is to have those kinds of groups and another thing is for someone to actually carry out such a horrible deed”
What are the next steps in terms of safety measures to prevent something like this in the future?
“I’m sure things will be different in Norway after this, in terms of security for our politicians for example. But I don’t think this is the right time to start making decisions about that, we need to gather all the information and take some time to create distance to what happened in order to start thinking rationally about what needs to be done. In some respects, Norway will not be the same”
Will this have a prolonged effect on the Norwegian people, for example, in terms of attitude?
“Norway is a small country and everybody is affected. Soon when the list of names will be published I think everybody, if they don’t know someone personally, will at least know someone who knows someone. In that respect it affects everybody personally and judging from the reactions and overwhelming response from the people in terms of public display, sympathy and solidarity, I believe it will have the effect of creating unity among the people, contrary to this kind of far-right extremist views. I believe it will make people more engaged and not indifferent”
Do you think this will have an effect on, for example, elections and partisan support?
“It’s difficult to say, but some kind of sympathy vote would probably be natural for many people. We’re going to have local elections in September, but the election campaign has been postponed for a couple of weeks in order to create some space to the tragedy. It will be interesting to see whether the Labour Party who was affected will receive sympathy votes of this kind. Speaking from my personal point of view, I think what happened will have the opposite effect of what this person wanted”
On behalf of Prachatai, we would like to express our strongest gratitude to Mr. Erik Svedahl and the Norwegian Embassy for their time and kindness. Our deepest condolences and thoughts go to the Norwegian people.