Good riddance, 2020 -- world pins hope on 2021
If history is any indication, no amount of suffering or misery can dash humanity's hopes for a better future.
Bidding farewell to the tumultuous year 2020, largely defined by the global fight against COVID-19, the people of the world are pinning their hopes on 2021 for a final victory.
HOPE AND CONFIDENCE
Admitting that "2020 has been difficult," French President Emmanuel Macron, in his New Year speech, looked to the new year.
"In 2021, whatever happens, we will ... be able to cope with the crises: health, economic and social, terrorist, climate," he said, reminiscent of the grimness in 2020 when the country was deeply haunted by COVID-19.
"Whatever happens, because we have prepared for it, we will ... be able to meet the challenges to come," he said.
Beset with a new COVID-19 variant which is "more transmissible," most Britons are now locked down at home under new coronavirus restrictions.
In a message broadcast on Thursday, British Prime Minister Boris Johnson said that he was confident that 2021 is a year when the country will reach "the end of the journey" and return to normal.
"We know that we have a hard struggle still ahead of us for weeks and months ... But as the sun rises tomorrow on 2021 we have the certainty of those vaccines," said the prime minister.
SOLIDARITY IN DEMAND
Inflicting great loss and damage across the world, the COVID-19 pandemic renders solidarity crucial to tackle global challenges.
"These days and weeks are difficult times for our country," German Chancellor Angela Merkel said in her New Year speech on Thursday, calling for continuous solidarity in the fight against the pandemic.
"The most effective means besides the vaccine are in our own hands by following the rules, each and every one of us. All of us together," she added.
In his annual New Year speech on Thursday, Russian President Vladimir Putin also expressed his belief that by standing together, the nation would be able to overcome existing challenges and restore normalcy.
"Yes, the dangerous new virus has changed and disrupted our daily lives, work, studies, and has forced us to reconsider and adjust many plans," Putin said, noting that "I am convinced that together we will overcome everything."
Achieving a speedy economic recovery ranks high among the New Year wish lists of many world leaders.
In his New Year message, Colombian President Ivan Duque called on his country to reactivate the economy in 2021.
"This is the moment to demonstrate that recovery is possible with everyone's work, that for Colombians no challenge is too big," he said.
Also on Thursday, the post-Brexit trade deal entered into law in Britain, meaning that Britain will embark on a new journey as an independent global trading nation.
Johnson believes it is "an amazing moment" which would help Britain recover from the pandemic.
"We will work with partners around the world, not just to tackle climate change but to create the millions of high skilled jobs this country will need not just this year 2021 as we bounce back from COVID, but in the years to come," he said.
In Africa, countries are also striving for recovery in 2021.
In his New Year message to the nation, Senegalese President Macky Sall laid out the priorities of economic recovery, including infrastructure construction, food sovereignty, structural transformation of the economy, and ensuring access to basic social services for all.
Even though the pandemic is still rampaging across the globe, confidence is growing with vaccines coming into use and economic stimulus packages taking effect in more countries.
As Merkel said, in what is expected to be her last New Year's speech as chancellor, "I do not think I am exaggerating when I say that never in the last 15 years have we all found the old year so difficult -- and despite all the worries and some skepticism, never have we looked forward to the new year with so much hope."