Hoppa yfir valmynd
Ministry for Foreign Affairs

Address to the Althing

Address to the Althing - April 13, 2000
Mr. Halldór Ásgrímsson, Minister for Foreign Affairs and External Trade of Iceland
Unofficial Translation


Mr. Speaker

It is now 60 years since the Icelandic Foreign Service was established. In the first years there were fewer than twenty employees in the Service, but through hard work, these pioneers of Icelandic foreign affairs managed to earn for the Republic of Iceland a position of respect among the countries of the world. It is safe to say that during those years each employee performed the work of many, which is not uncommon for Icelanders .

In these 60 years, the scope of foreign affairs has widened tremendously in all fields: security, the environment, economic affairs and culture. It is more important now than ever before for small countries to show perseverance in their efforts to promote their interests and ideals. Other countries have expressed wonder that a small and sparsely populated country like Iceland can participate in and influence the work of international organisations, working on an even footing with major countries.

Over the past few years, work has been in progress on modernising the Foreign Service. A new computerised work environment and comprehensive filing and archiving system is being set up in all the Icelandic embassies and permanent missions. The objective is to create a paper-free working environment in the Foreign Service and utilise modern information technology to the fullest extent possible. In this area, it can be argued that the Icelandic Foreign service has assumed a pioneering role in the world. Continuous work is in progress on rationalising and streamlining the operation of the Foreign Service. One aspect of this work has involved co-operation with other Nordic countries in the operation of diplomatic missions. Last, but not least, the Foreign Ministry is making an effort to increase the specialisation of its staff, especially in overseas trade services, and to employ management methods, which have been particularly useful in the private sector, in order to render our work on foreign affairs even more efficient than before. These new management methods represent an attempt to ensure that the Foreign Service is strengthened as it grows.

The Icelandic Government has decided to open two new embassies next year, in Tokyo and Ottawa. The purpose of the new embassies is to strengthen still further the political ties with these important countries, to facilitate and strengthen the business relationships of Icelandic enterprises with Canada, and to promote cultural relations, especially with Canadians of Icelandic descent. Experience shows us that opening embassies has proven a successful way to promote foreign trade at the same time that political and cultural ties are strengthened. There are also plans to open a diplomatic mission on the premises of the embassy of Denmark and Norway in Mozambique next year in order to support development co-operation efforts and strengthen political relations with our partner states in Africa. This will extend still further Iceland's international communications network, which will reach 15 countries on four continents, Europe, North America, Asia and Africa.

But while it is important to increase the number of diplomatic missions in order to meet a changed and challenging environment in international affairs, it is also important to support the work of the existing embassies, many of which are understaffed. This would also enable us to make better use of the resources already invested in the Icelandic embassies abroad.

Culture

Hardly anything is as conducive to deepening understanding between nations as mutual familiarity with culture and tradition. My report, which I have submitted to the Althingi, outlines the work that the embassies have performed in this area pursuant to legislation on the role of the Foreign Service. Substantial success has been achieved, and the Foreign Service has played both leading and supporting roles in close co-operation with the Ministry of Education, government institutions and interest groups in trade and tourist services.

Despite financial constraints, many of Iceland's diplomatic missions have shown admirable initiative in this area by organising diverse Icelandic cultural events on a regular basis in their host countries, in co-operation with interest groups and friends of the Icelandic nation.

European Co-operation

This spring I am submitting two reports to the Althingi: on the one hand a general report on international affairs, and on the other hand a report on Iceland's position in European co-operation. An agreement has been reached within the Parliament to debate the report on international affairs today, and the European report separately at a later date, as the issue is of particular importance. It is an issue which deserves the special attention of the Althingi in light of the profound transformations which are taking place in Europe and the effect these transformations are having on our co-operation within the European Economic Area and with the European Union.

It is my hope that the report will provide a sound basis for discussions on our co-operation with the European Union and its Member States. Even though it is generally recognised that the Agreement on the European Economic Area has been successful, the Icelandic government has to be prepared for changes in the conditions that form the basis of the EEA Agreement. We may find ourselves facing some difficult decisions. It is therefore extremely important for us to conduct a realistic assessment of the options open to Iceland in our relations with Europe.

European Co-operation in Security and Defence

Our membership of NATO and our bilateral Defence Agreement with the United States have over the past fifty years been the cornerstone of Icelandic defence and security policy. It is important, in my opinion, to ensure that this continues to be the case, e.g. through active participation by the Foreign Service in the rapid developments currently in progress in security and defence. It is clear that in the wake of the debate on security within the European Union, there is now a consensus among European countries that Europe should assume increased responsibility for the defence and security of the region. In recent months, the Icelandic government has closely monitored trends in European co-operation in this area and participated actively in the discussions and decision making process, both within NATO and in the Western European Union, where Iceland is an associate member.

There appears to have been a dominant trend among the Member States of the European Union in recent months to define the development of European co-operation on defence and security primarily on the basis of membership of the Union. On 1 March, temporary security and defence institutions were established within the Union for the purpose of making preparations for crisis management measures to be taken on the part of the Union. The Member States are now working on developing co-ordinated military resources ("Headline Goal") for the purpose of enforcing peace in the region at short notice.

The Icelandic government has whole-heartedly supported European co-operation in defence and security, but with several reservations:
- Development in this area must not be defined within the narrow context of membership of the EU;
- Steps must be taken to ensure that this development in no way weakens NATO and the Transatlantic Link; and last but not least,
- The six non-EU European allies who participated in formulating ideas on increased European co-operation in security and defence at the NATO Summit slightly less than a year ago, must be given an opportunity to participate fully in the decision shaping process and the work of EU}s security and defence institutions.

The Icelandic government has taken systematic measures to make its position on this matter clear to the Member States of the EU within NATO. Most recently, I brought the matter up in my bilateral discussions with Mr. Robin Cook, Foreign Secretary of Great Britain, last February, and just today the Prime Minister brought up the matter with the German Chancellor, Mr. Gerhardt Schröder.

In the opinion of the Icelandic Government, NATO should continue to be the main pillar in the security and defence architecture of the so-called Euro-Atlantic Area. It is clear that for the time being it will be difficult for the EU to react to a crisis situation without the support of NATO. It is important to establish formal relations between the EU and NATO as soon as possible. We have emphasised our position, both within NATO and the WEU ? as well as in our discussions with the EU leadership ? that it will not be possible to make any decision on EU access to NATO assets and capabilities until a solution has been found to the participation of the six non-EU European allies in the security and defence institutions of the EU. It is urgent to reach a conclusion on this matter as soon as possible, and it is my hope that the meeting of NATO}s Foreign Ministers next May and the EU Summit meeting in Feira will clear the path for the future.

The Council of Europe

Iceland held the presidency of the Committee of Ministers of the Council from May to November of 1999, and it fell to our lot to represent the Council of Europe regarding applications for membership from new states and in relations with other international institutions.

Among the issues emphasised during the chairmanship of Iceland was increased co-operation and consultation by the Council of Europe with the European Union and the OSCE. Special emphasis was placed on strengthening and co-ordinating the work of the organisations, improving efficiency and preventing duplication of effort. Another point of emphasis was increased funding for the European Court of Human Rights.

During the presidency of Iceland, an agreement was reached on the role of the Council of Europe in the reconstruction of Kosovo. The contribution of the Council of Europe will consist primarily in providing assistance in drafting legislation and training government officials and judges. The Council of Europe has opened an office in Pristina in Kosovo, to which the Foreign Ministry has contributed ISK 1.1 million this year.

The work of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe is playing an increasingly prominent role in the work of the Council. The Assembly has in recent years played a key role in the enlargement of the Council of Europe, and it has established strict conditions for new member states regarding human rights and the rule of law, and the Assembly has also monitored the enforcement of these conditions. The Icelandic delegation in the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe has been active in its work, and the participation of members of the Althingi in this work has been extremely important, as it has in other international co-operation.

The largest issue in the recently concluded meeting of the Parliamentary Assembly was the recommendation to the Committee of Ministers to expel Russia from the Council of Europe if a cease-fire were not immediately established in Chechnya and negotiations begun with the guerrillas. Russia's right to vote in the Parliamentary Assembly was withdrawn. These actions convey a message to adhere to the rules of the Council regarding human rights and democracy. A recommendation to expel the Ukraine from the Council of Europe was also adopted in light of the decree of Mr. Leonid Kuchma, President of the Ukraine, on a referendum in the country on amendments to the constitution of the Ukraine, which would result in increased presidential powers.

The recommendation on the expulsion of Russia did not come as a surprise. Within the Council of Europe and in my meeting with the vice-Foreign Secretary of Russia, I emphasised the importance of finding a peaceful solution to the conflict in Chechnya.

The recommendation of the Parliamentary Assembly on the expulsion of Russia will be discussed in the Committee of Ministers at deputies level in the next few months and at ministerial level in early May. Until then, it is important to attempt to strengthen still further co-operation and consultation with Russia on a political solution to the conflict in Chechnya. A consultation meeting between the Foreign Minister of Russia and the current Chairman of the Ministerial Committee of the Council of Europe, the Foreign Secretary of Ireland, was held last Monday on the subject of Chechnya. At the meeting, the Foreign Minister of Russia repeated Russia's intention to work with the Council of Europe on a solution to the problem and said that measures would be taken to find a political solution. It is important that Russia continues to be an active participant within the Council of Europe.

The Situation in the Western Balkan Peninsula - Kosovo

Despite the extensive and good reconstruction work in the Western Balkans, particularly in Kosovo, there is still a long way to go before the situation can be regarded as normal and the inhabitants of the area secure. An estimated 1.3 million refugees have now returned to Kosovo, but according to unofficial UN figures some 13,000 people are still reported as missing in the area. 77 refugees came to Iceland, and 37 have returned home.

Attempts to reduce criminal activities of various kinds have not met with sufficient success. Conflicts between ethnic factions continue, and there is ongoing instability in certain areas. There is no question that international and regional institutions have performed miracles, thanks to the selfless efforts of all the people who have been working in the area in recent months. NATO, with its peacekeeping force of over 40,000 in Kosovo, has, together with the United Nations, played a leading role in co-operation with various other international and non-governmental organisations. The results speak for themselves: The number of murders has been reduced from 50 to 5 per week; over three thousand small arms have been confiscated, the Kosovo Liberation Army (KLA) has surrendered its weaponry, and a Kosovo protection corps has been established in its place. The reconstruction work in the area is progressing well, and civilian institutions and enterprises are gradually becoming operational again. But more is needed. In order to achieve real political results, the ethnic groups in the area must join hands and work together peacefully on the reconstruction of political institutions and society as a whole in co-operation with the international staff working in the area.

Co-operation between Russia and NATO

In recent weeks, relations between NATO and Russia have been improving once more after Russia chose to curtail its relations with NATO substantially following the action taken by the Alliance in Kosovo. Meetings of the Permanent Joint Council (PJC: NATO-Russia co-operation) are now once more being held at NATO headquarters, and it is quite possible that the Foreign Minister of Russia will accept an invitation to attend a meeting of the PJC in the margins of the NATO ministerial meeting in the second half of May. Iceland has emphasised the importance of improving NATO's relations with the government of Russia. It is clear that improving these relations will be among the priorities of NATO in the coming year. In order to contribute to this matter, the Icelandic government has invited high-ranking Russian officials to participate in the SACLANT symposium on international security and defence, which will be held in Reykjavik in early September this year. Russia has also decided to participate in the Co-operative Safeguard Exercise in Iceland next June.

Defence Co-operation

Despite the transformation in the security environment in our region in the past decade, neither the significance of Iceland nor the importance of the Transatlantic Link to the common security interests of Europe and North America have changed.

However, substantial cutbacks have taken place in the defence readiness capability in the country in this decade as a result of our transformed security environment. However, no changes are made in the defence capabilities of Iceland without consultation with the Icelandic government. According to the 1996 protocol to the Defence Agreement, the parties to the agreement may request a review of the agreement four years from the date of signature, and the parties shall endeavour to commence negotiations within four months from the time that such a request is received.

The policy of the Icelandic government in recent years has been to increase the role of Iceland in bilateral defence co-operation with the United States and in multinational defence co-operation with the member states of the Partnership for Peace. As previously revealed, the Foreign Ministry, the Coast Guard and the Special Police of the National Police Commissioner played an active Part in Northern Viking 99. Also, work is proceeding on the construction of a 3000 tonne coast guard vessel which will be specially equipped to participate in joint exercises with the Iceland Defence Force on rescue and marine surveillance missions.It should also be noted that the work of the Icelandic Radar Institution represents a valuable contribution by Iceland to its own defence. This work includes the operation and maintenance of certain basic aspects of defence installations in the country, including the radar stations on Miðnesheiði, Stokksnes, Gunnólfsvíkurfjall and Bolafjall.

The humanitarian assistance exercise, Co-operative Safeguard, which was first held in Iceland in 1997, is conducted under the auspices of the Partnership for Peace. The objective of Partnership for Peace exercises is to strengthen co-operation and co-ordinate the actions of the member states of NATO and its partner states, e.g. in the area of peacekeeping and reaction to natural disasters. Co-operative Safeguard will be conducted on 7-12 June. The scenario this time will focus on search and rescue at sea.

It should also be noted that on 6-7 September a Symposium organised by SACLANT and the Ministry for Foreign Affairs will be held in Reykjavík. The Symposium is intended to serve as a forum for an exchange of views between scholars, military leaders, government representatives and international organisations in the United States, Europe and Russia on the Transatlantic Link, the security of the northern flank of NATO and other issues affecting the security of Europe.

The UN Security Council

An announcement was recently issued on the candidacy of Iceland for the UN Security Council in 2009-2010. The elections will take place in 2008. This is the first time that Iceland seeks a seat in the Council, and the candidacy reflects the policy of the Icelandic government to play a more prominent role in international affairs. Negotiations on the reform of the Council have been in progress for several years without result; among the issues in dispute is the number of countries to be included in the Council. A certain milestone was reached recently when the United States ceased its opposition to increasing the number of seats beyond 20-21. If this results in an agreement on the number of seats, this could mean that the Icelandic candidacy would be brought forward. The Foreign Ministry is beginning preparations for the candidacy, e.g. with plans to increase the Ministry's staff in New York next year.

Peacekeeping

One of the main roles of the United Nations is to promote world peace and security. Peacekeeping is one of the measures available to the Security Council in performing this role. During commemorations of the 60-year anniversary of the Foreign Service earlier this week, it was noted that 50 years had elapsed since the first Icelanders joined United Nations peacekeeping forces in Palestine. Much has transpired since that time, and in recent years systematic efforts have been made to expand Iceland's role in peacekeeping activities and the accompanying reconstruction work. Eleven Icelanders are currently employed in such work on the Balkan Peninsula. This number may be expected to increase in the near future as a result of a recent agreement with Britain on co-operation in peacekeeping, not only in Bosnia, but also in Kosovo. In the future, we will need to consider still further participation in peacekeeping under the auspices of the United Nations, particularly outside Europe.

Work of this kind is likely to increase Iceland's international prestige and influence. The main point, however, is that there is a great need for specially trained personnel, and Icelandic law enforcement officers and health care personnel have proven particularly efficient in this kind of work.

Human Rights

The promotion of human rights and the struggle against human rights violations is an integral part of the work of the United Nations in the cause of peace and security. The Icelandic government has emphasised the rights of women and children, and these concerns have been expressed in the General Assembly and the UN Commission on Human Rights, among other forums. Iceland's participation in the reconstruction work in the Balkan Peninsula has also reflected the importance of the human rights of women, and in this context the Icelandic government has supported the construction of a women's shelter in Sarajevo and paid the cost of an Icelandic employee of UNIFEM in Kosovo. The Icelandic government has participated actively in the preparations for the special session of the UN General Assembly, which will be held in New York in June on follow-up to the Women's Conference held in Beijing in 1995. The Foreign Ministry is planning to organise meetings in Iceland on this occasion in order to promote increased discussion on women's affairs in this country.

International Development Co-operation

The campaign of the World Bank to relieve the debts of the poorest countries in the world, HIPC, has not progressed as anticipated at the Annual General Meeting of the Bank last autumn. The main reason is the foot-dragging of several industrial countries, including the United States, where the House of Representatives has not yet been persuaded to allocate funds to the campaign. The contribution of Iceland to the campaign will amount to ISK 200 million over the next three years.

In spite of the delays, great hopes are attached to these efforts and it is hoped that the contributions pledged by industrial countries will eventually materialise. Debt relief should contribute to revitalising the economies of debt-ridden nations. But the relief alone will not be sufficient. The governments of the countries in question will have to take measures to ensure that the resulting reduced public expenditure will benefit those who are in the greatest need. If not, the eternal vicious circle of new loans, worse credit terms and increasing payments will not be broken. For this reason, definite conditions have been established that the states receiving assistance from HIPC funds must meet conditions on government practices and social reform.

Mozambique, one of ICEIDA's partner states, was severely affected by the floods which engulfed southern Africa recently. ICEIDA and the Icelandic Red Cross, which are both engaged in projects in Mozambique, became the first agencies to organise measures to assist the victims of the floods. FENGUR, ICEIDA's marine research vessel in Mozambique, has been used to transport aid to isolated coastal areas in co-operation with the United Nations and the Mozambique government.

ICEIDA has recently decided to take up co-operation with Uganda. This is possible both as a result of increased budget allocations to the Agency and as a result of the conclusion of the Agency's Cape Verde projects. Uganda is one of the poorest countries in the world, but the government is relatively stable. The government of Uganda has requested Icelandic assistance in establishing a system of quality control for fish products, but in addition to fisheries projects the Agency intends to participate in projects in the health sector and in education.

New Consultation Process

At the UN General Assembly last autumn, a resolution was passed on a new consultation process on matters of the sea, and plans were made for one-week meetings to be held each year. The objective is to discuss the report of the Secretary General of the United Nations on ocean affairs in order to identify items which require special attention in the resolutions of the General Assembly and which could promote improved co-ordination between countries and the institutions of the UN. The first meeting of this new forum will be held next May. Great emphasis will be placed on active and vigorous participation on the part of Iceland in this work from the outset in order to exert a formative influence in support of Icelandic interests. When Mr. Nitin Desai, the United Nations Under-Secretary General for Economic and Social Affairs, visited Iceland recently, we discussed these matters in detail. We hope for good co-operation with his department on these matters.

FAO (UN Food and Agriculture Organisation)

The most important and ambitious project of FAO in the near future is rooted in the 1996 summit, where the member states set themselves the goal of reducing the number of the hungry in the world by half before 2015. Of the projects involving Iceland, the most important is the preparation for the Fisheries Conference in Iceland in 2001 under the title "Responsible Fisheries in the Ecosystem". The FAO Committee is responsible for preparations. The conference is planned as an important stage in achieving an international consensus on the utilisation of the world's largest food resource.

Nordic Co-operation

Co-operation and consultation in foreign affairs with other Nordic countries has from the outset been one of the cornerstones of Icelandic foreign policy. In 1999, Iceland held the chair in Nordic co-operation. Meetings of Nordic Foreign Ministers are held twice a year, and both meetings in 1999 were held in Iceland. A joint Nordic embassy building was inaugurated in Berlin on 20 October 1999. The Nordic countries co-operate closely within international organisations such as the OSCE, the Council of Europe, the World Trade Organisation and OECD. In all cities where there are Icelandic embassies and permanent missions, Icelandic diplomats participate in Nordic consultation meetings, which are invaluable to the Icelandic foreign service.

OSCE (Organisation for Security and Co-operation in Europe)

Following the establishment of the Icelandic permanent delegation to the OSCE last year, the Icelandic government has been strengthening its participation in the work of the Organisation. At the OSCE summit meeting in Istanbul this winter, the foundation of the co-operation within OSCE was reinforced still further with the approval of the Charter for European Security and with other decisions designed specifically to strengthen the Organisation in its efforts to prevent armed conflict. There are 19 delegations and offices in the member states of the OSCE working on these matters.

The military actions of Russia in Chechnya have also caused reactions from OSCE member states, where criticism has primarily been directed at Russia's violation of its undertakings pursuant to the Conventional Forces in Europe Treaty.

EFTA

Iceland's membership of EFTA in 1970 marked a turning point in Iceland's foreign relations. Through its membership, Iceland became a full participant in a free-trade association and for the first time Iceland undertook obligations on free trade in industrial products. This year, EFTA will celebrate its 40th anniversary and Iceland will celebrate 30 years of EFTA membership. In spite of numerous changes in the international environment in these 30 years, e.g. with the creation of the EEA Agreement, EFTA still has an important role to play for Iceland. The EFTA Secretariat plays an important part in the implementation of the EEA Agreement, and the EFTA states have joined forces in concluding free-trade agreements with 14 states with more such agreements to come. The most important of these is the prospective agreement with Canada. The EFTA states recognise that free trade should apply to fish products, and they have argued this in all negotiations on free-trade agreements. This has been an invaluable support to Iceland's cause, and promoted the unimpeded access of Icelandic fish products to foreign markets.

The Overseas Business Service

It is clear from the feedback that we receive from around the world that there is extensive interest in Icelandic culture, design and know-how. One Nordic cultural attaché in London has been quoted as saying that, in recent years, Iceland has received more cultural press coverage in the UK than all the other Nordic countries combined. Attention of this kind requires careful handling. Business enterprises attach great importance to their images, counting it among their most valuable assets, especially in the global market. We have to cultivate Iceland's image abroad. The attention we receive opens trade opportunities for us which we ought to follow up.

Our trade attachés perceive ever-growing interest in more diverse products and services from Iceland.

In light of the favourable experience from joint projects between the Foreign Ministry, the Ministry of Transport and Icelandic enterprises in the United States under the slogan "Iceland, Naturally", the first step has been taken in the direction of creating a co-ordinated image for Iceland, and it appears quite feasible to employ the same methods in, for example, France, the UK and Germany.

A survey conducted among consumers in the United States recently revealed, among other things, that American tourists selecting foreign destinations are primarily interested in "culture". This clearly illustrates that culture is a commercial asset. The concept of culture encompasses virtually everything that can characterise a nation: appearance, heritage, creativity, imagination, enterprise, initiative and industriousness. Most things connected with culture can be shaped into a profitable product for export, and with a strong image we can open routes for our enterprises into new markets. I will continue to work on supporting such efforts with the resources of the Overseas Business Service and our embassies across the world.

The establishment of the Overseas Business Service was our response to globalisation of trade and business and the trends which were evident three years ago. I believe that our predictions were correct, and I will continue to emphasise the further strengthening of this service. The service should serve as an icebreaker in international trade and as a creative force in the construction of Iceland's image for the benefit of the country in the future.

The World Trade Organisation (WTO)

At a meeting of the World Trade Organisation in Seattle, a new round of talks on international trade was scheduled to be launched. This failed for a variety of reasons. The meetings were adjourned, and the Secretary General of the Organisation was instructed to seek ways to start the talks again. The principal role of the Organisation in the near future will be to attempt to reach a consensus on launching a more comprehensive round of negotiations as soon as possible.

Decisions of the World Trade Organisation are taken by consensus. Iceland can therefore exert considerable influence on such decisions notwithstanding the size of its population. Iceland has submitted a proposal on rules to prohibit subsidies in fisheries, which can result in damage to the environment and distort trade. The proposal enjoys widespread support, and there are hopes that Iceland's arguments will lead to international rules limiting such subsidies.

China is now aiming for membership of the WTO. They have concluded negotiations with 21 states, including Iceland and the United States. Negotiations with the EU and other member states are currently in progress. The list of concessions to the rate which China binds in its schedule will stipulate a reduction of tariffs on fish products and industrial products exported from Iceland to China from 25-30% to 10-15%. The tariff reductions will be fully implemented in the years 2001-2005.

Concluding remarks

There is every indication that most of the steps taken by Icelanders in foreign affairs in recent years have benefited the nation. Numerous decisions have been the subject of dispute. The public debate has generally been objective, but also quite often emotional in the case of the most important foreign policy decisions.

I was a member of the government that made the decision to attempt to reach an agreement on the European Economic Area. As a member of the opposition, I criticised various substantive aspects of the agreement, and considered the final conclusion in various ways flawed. I fully realised the importance of the agreement, but I wanted to see better results for Iceland. I pointed out the limitations on free trade in fish products, our limited influence and various other aspects.

There is no point in looking back in this matter, or in other matters. We have to set our course based on probable future trends and our present position. It is clear, however, that changes have been profound and they have profoundly affected our situation. With or without our influence. Under these conditions, we must continue to strengthen the Icelandic foreign service. Foreign relations and international affairs are a growing aspect of the work of all the ministries, the Althingi, various institutions, local governments and enterprises, and most Icelanders are experiencing greater empathy and closeness with other nations than ever before. Changes in international affairs call for changed patterns of thought. We must define our position with care and with vision. For a small nation it is important to nourish the friendship and goodwill that we enjoy in the community of nations. Closest to us in this respect are the Nordic countries and the Anglo Saxon nations. Our co-operation with these nations has played an important role in fortifying our position as an independent and sovereign nation.

Continued prosperity in Iceland will hinge largely on our discovering the framework of co-operation with the nations of Europe which will best ensure that the energy, know-how and culture of Iceland will pave the way for future generations to prosper in the global society around us.

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