Foreign Minister Gudlaugur Thór Thórdarson met today with foreign ambassadors residing in Reykjvík and introduced the new government‘s priority foreign policy issues. During the meeting the Minister underlined the importance of cooperation with other Western countries, European and Nordic cooperation, our membership of NATO and security and defence arrangements with the US and other allies. He also discussed the recently adopted National security strategy which outlines emphases like security in the Arctic, threat of terrorism, cyber security and continued co-operation with NATO and the United States in the defence domain.
During the meeting Minister Thórdarson discussed the importance of the Arctic and the Arctic Council and the preparations for our upcoming Icelandic chairmanship, which starts in 2019. He also discussed developments in Europe and said that the European Union remains Iceland's most important trading partner and a close political ally and that Iceland would continue to base its cooperation on the EEA Agreement. “For Iceland, the EEA Agreement represents the best of both worlds. We are a member of the internal market with all its benefits and obligations, but we are able to pursue free trade elsewhere – either individually or with our friends in EFTA and retain our agriculture and fisheries policies,” the Foreign Minister said. He also referred to the Brexit vote in the UK and tahat the Iceland government would continue to monitor developments closely and be proactive in safeguarding Iceland's interests.
The Minister also addressed the issue of a referendum on accession negotiations with the EU. He said that if this issue was to be raised in Althingi, it would be put to a vote towards the end of the term. “It is also clearly spelled out that the coalition partners may have different opinions on this matter and that they will respect each other's viewpoints. So, if at all, the issue will only be dealt with towards the end of the election period and, secondly, it is entirely up to Althingi to conclude this matter. What is also clear is that I, as Foreign Minister, will not be tabling such a parliamentary resolution”