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Ministry for Foreign Affairs

Annual report on foreign affairs

Ossur Skarphedinsson, Minister for Foreign Affairs, delivered today his annual report on foreign affairs to the Icelandic Parliament. Among the main issues addressed in the report are the following:

  • The role of the Ministry for Foreign Affairs in the Government's economic recovery programme following the collapse of the Icelandic banks in 2008, including how the Foreign Minister and Iceland's Embassies have represented Iceland with regards to the cooperation with the IMF and the Icesave-issue;
  • The Ministry's consular affairs services. Each year the Icelandic Foreign Service safeguards the interest and safety of over 1.000 Icelandic citizens abroad;
  • Iceland's interests in the High North. The report analyzes the changes taking place in the the northern hemisphere and outlines a clear policy on the strengthened role of Iceland in terms of nature protection, utilization of natural resources, opening of shipping routs and cooperation in search and rescue;
  • Preparation of Iceland's upcoming accession talks with the EU. The report explains the set-up of the accession process, the stage of preparations in each chapter, and informs that the meeting notes of the negotiation committee and its sub-groups have been published on the Ministry's website;
  • A new focus on security and defence matters. The government has put forward an amendment to the Defence law and the Foreign Minister states his intentions of generating a broad concensus in Parliament, based on a comprehensive definition of security and Iceland being a non-militarized nation;
  • Improved framework for Iceland's contribution to development aid and continued emphasis on international human rights and gender equality as one of the cornerstones of Iceland's foreign policy;
  • Management of the EEA-agreement and free-trade agreements. A total of ten new agreements for the exchange of information relating to tax matters were reached last year. The aim is to reach an agreement with all states identified by the OECD as “tax havens” within the next two years;
  • The Ministry's work on communication and cultural affairs. An effective cultural-programme and information dissimination about Iceland, also as a part of the new Promote Iceland Agency, is an important part of strengthening Iceland's repuation abroad;
  • The rationalization and economizing in the management of the Ministry and the Icelandic Foreign Service. The report informs that the running costs of 2008 and 2009 were within the budget outline as a result of cost cuts in travel and wages, lower rental costs of Embassies and cuts in the number of diplomats abroad.

Iceland´s interests and a Responsible Foreign Policy - an executive summary of the report to Althingi

Read the Minister's speech

Download here (pdf document)


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