Trade, bilateral relations, international affairs and human rights were the main topics at the meeting of Gudlaugur Thór Thórdarson, the Minister for Foreign Affairs and International Development Cooperation, and Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov today in Harpa.
Foreign Minister Lavrov arrived in Iceland yesterday to attend the ministerial meeting of the Arctic Council held in Reykjavík this morning. At their meeting at noon today the two ministers discussed numerous issues regarding the two countries’ relations as well as common interests. They also discussed increased liberalisation of aviation and the strengthening of cooperation between Icelandic and Russian air operators. They agreed to continue pursuing ways of increasing air transport and facilitating tourism between the countries.
The ministers also discussed the prospects for international affairs, environmental issues and human rights. Foreign Minister Thórdarson made the issue of the Russian opposition, critical media and the status of the LBGT community a topic of discussion, underlining the importance of states meeting their international obligations in these matters. The ministers then discussed the conflict in the Ukraine and Thórdarson reiterated Iceland's objections to Russia´s ban on import of certain Icelandic products, which he claimed were not consistent with the sanctions Iceland imposes on Russia due to the conflict.
“Russia is an important neighbour of Iceland and the actions of Russian authorities affect the political situation and security of Europe. Therefore, it is vital to be able to engage in an open dialogue regarding various matters of mutual interest, but it is no less important to engage in an open dialogue where our views differ,” said Foreign Minister Thórdarson, as the two countries for instance have shared interests in preserving the sustainable exploitation of fish stocks in the Arctic. Foreign Minister Thórdarson underlined the importance of regular consultations with regard to the exploitation of fish stocks and that the Russo-Icelandic Committee on Fisheries would resume regular collaboration after some interruption.
Bilateral trade between the countries and air transport were also discussed, as plans are under way to re-establish direct flights between the countries this summer. Icelandic technology companies have made good progress in Russia in designing, selling, installing and maintaining technical equipment and ships for the Russian fishing industry, as well as providing equipment for the food processing industry.