Iceland's Minister for Foreign Affairs, Ossur Skarphedinsson, discussed the effects of the economic crisis in a speech to the United Nations General Assembly in New York, Saturday 26 September. The Minister conveyed Iceland's deep dissatisfaction with ongoing delays on reviewing the Stand-By Arrangement with the International Monetary Fund due to unrelated bilateral disputes.
Minister Skarphedinsson said that Iceland had been the first country to fall victim to the greed and excess of financiers who abused rules, followed dubious work-ethics, hid their money in tax asylums and induced an irresponsible system of stellar bonuses that incited reckless behaviour and risk taking far beyond anything the world has seen.
In Iceland, those responsible had left in their wake a scorched earth, bewildered citizens, full of sorrow and anger, scarred by the possibility of imminent bankruptcies, loss of their houses and jobs. He urged the international community to obliterate tax-havens and to lock arms to create a sound global regulatory framework.
The Foreign Minister said that despite the economic crisis Iceland’s real assets remained intact; natural resources, human capital, and social welfare. Iceland was on the road to recovery.
Minister Skarphedinsson also stressed the need to tackle climate change, underlining the importance of reaching a decision on a legally binding agreement in Copenhagen that would strike to the core of the problem. He referred to Iceland’s experience in making use of geothermal power and encouraged countries in Africa, South East Asia and Latin America, which have the same possibilities as Iceland does, to use renewable geothermal energy and to make use of Icelandic expertise.
The Foreign Minister suggested the establishment of a global climatic fund to transfer renewable technologies to the developing countries to enable them to continue growing on a sustainable and renewable basis.
He also said that due to the drastic effects on the Arctic due to climate change, Artic issues had become one of the priorites of Iceland's foreign policy.