After four years of service in Paris, Ambassador Kristján Andri Stefánsson, left the Embassy this morning for his next mission in Brussels where he will take up the position of Ambassador to the European Union on 1 July. Accompanied by his partner, Davíð Samúelsson, on his departure Ambassador Stefánsson expressed his sincere thanks and profound appreciation to his team at the Embassy in Paris:
“I could not have done much without the dedicated assistance of my team. Your devotion and loyalty, making wonders happen sometimes with very little time and resources, has been invaluable and instrumental to amplifying the impact of our mission in Paris.”
He also reflected on his tenure in Paris:
“Four years ago, we were in the privileged position to arrive in Paris following the Icelandic football team‘s performance in the EURO 2016 while the positive vibe left by the team – with the distinctive „huh“ following every match – was still fresh and vivid in people‘s minds.
My task has been to capitalize on this positive attention brought on by the Icelandic team in France and make sure that we continue to be a favorite player here. Leaving the current situation aside, conditions have been excellent for active and vibrant relations between Iceland and France. Apart from travel and tourism – that were thriving before the crisis – France is an enormously important market for Icelandic trade, not only fish and fish products, but also new technology and know-how.
For a small player like Iceland, it can sometimes be a challenge making your voice heard. But with our strategic position vis-a-vis the Arctic, my government‘s green agenda and ambitious climate action plan, and focus on gender equality, has made my job so much easier. In fact, coming from a small island, we may understand better than anyone, that in the league of nations no-one really is an island, and the importance of multi-lateral action is paramount in today‘s world, now more than ever in face of the Covid-19 pandemic.
This is also why it has been a privilege to represent my country before the international organisations here in Paris, namely the OECD and UNESCO, contributing to a more effective cooperation with them as well as bringing focus to areas within their mandate that remain a high policy priority for my government, including gender parity and diversity.
Close cooperation and coordination on the multi-lateral level is indeed more important than ever, and I hope to continue working closely along these lines with my fellow European friends as I take up my new position in Brussels.”