Ladies and gentlemen, dear friends
It is a great pleasure to stand here at this historic site - on the grounds of Borg in Mountain, North Dakota - and be with you as you honor the heritage and history of Iceland. A country far away but still in your hearts. I am touched and grateful to witness how dedicated you are to the land of your forefathers and how determined you are not to forget where your ancestors came from. At the same time you are loyal citizens of the land your forefathers chose for your future - binding you in spirit to two countries while living in one. We have a thousand years of history together but have only been apart for a little over one hundred years.
I am happy to learn that your Community Center is in its final building stages and take pleasure in the fact that the Government of Iceland was able to make a contribution towards making it a reality. I hope the Center will serve you well and make it easier for you to continue the good work you are doing.
You are carrying on - in the same spirit that was in the hearts and minds of the Icelandic settlers who came here over a century ago. They had the strength of spirit necessary to take their destiny in their own hands and forge a new future full of possiblities for their children on a new continent. They never forgot the land of their forefathers and they brought with them Iceland´s culture and heritage to this new and exciting land.
It is easy to imagine Káinn and Stephan G. working hard in the fields here nearby in the blistering summer heat - but at the same time creating masterpieces of poetry in their heads to be written down late at night by a weary hand. The Icelanders in North Dakota were then – as they are now - hard working, honest people with a strong sense of social responsibilities to their fellow man and to society as a whole. We are proud of your achievements and your contribution to your new country and grateful for your loyalty to our common heritage.
As Prime Minister I bring you the greetings of the Icelandic Government which is hard at work navigating our country through turbulent waters. Iceland has been - and is - faced with a serious economic crisis and our banking system more or less collapsed. This left the government with a task so difficult that it would be hard to find a comparable situation in recent history. There were no easy solutions and there certainly were few popular decisions to be made. But we are determined to succeed in the face of this difficult challenge and we know that in our history we have often met with great adveristy and overcome our difficulties.
The friendship and moral support of the people of Icelandic descent in North America is greatly appreciated and much needed. We are blessed with great resources. We have one of the richest fishing grounds in the world. There is an abundance of hydro power in the waterfalls and the geothermal energy resources are vast. We will harness those to our benefit but at the same time showing respect and consideration for the environment. In fact we have the most secure water resources in all the world according to a recent international survey. The Icelandic nation is educated and people are hardworking as they always have been and we have a solid and modern infrastructure of schools, hospitals, roads, bridges and airports, already built and mostly paid for. Our long term prospects are therefore good and I am certain that within a few years Iceland will again be flourishing.
Let me conclude by saying that the Icelandic Government is committed to working with you in matters relating to your history and heritage.
Thank you again for this kind invitation.
God bless you all.