The President of Iceland, Gudni Th. Johannesson, and Gudlaugur Thor Thordarson, Minister for Foreign Affairs, today had a meeting with Russia's President, Vladimir Putin, in Archangelsk, where they have been participating in the International Arctic Forum. Bilateral relations, Arctic affairs, business, and international affairs were among issues discussed at the meeting, including Russia's import ban of Icelandic products.
"This was a good meeting. Our relations go back a long time, on wide range of issues, including trade and culture. While we do not agree on all issues, it is important that we make every effort to maintain regular contact and the ability to talk honestly, " said Foreign Minister Thordarson.
Relations between Iceland and Russia cover a wide range of areas. Recently an annual trade and business consultation between the states took place; discussing e.g. ideas on cooperation between Icelandic and Russian companies on innovation and geothermal energy projects. There is interest in further cooperation in the fisheries sector to follow up on a visit of ten Icelandic companies, including technology companies, to Murmansk last November.
Culture and Sport were on the agenda; next year's World Cup in Russia and various cultural events featuring Icelandic artists that are planned in Russia this year; including a film festival, photo exhibitions, rock and classical concerts and visits by renowned writers.
Western sanctions on Russia and Russia's countering import ban on
Icelandic goods, were discussed. Foreign Minister Thordarson said that the
extent of Russia's countermeasures were disproportional and have had negative
impact on trade between the nations and on Russian consumers. The import ban has
among other things led to a 30% drop in fish consumption in Russia. Minister
Thordarson also brought up issues related to Russian veterinary services, whose
bans and complex processes have been very challenging for Icelandic food
Arctic issues were discussed, welcoming the good cooperation on many subject areas, for example within the Arctic Council.