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Oct 03, 2022JEF Defence Ministers Statement

<p>Following the deliberate damage caused to the Nord Stream pipelines in the Baltic Sea, today Defence Ministers of the Joint Expeditionary Force (JEF) met virtually to share assessments of the blatant and irresponsible attacks against critical civilian infrastructure.</p> <p>The JEF condemns in the strongest terms the reckless sabotage in the Baltic Sea. It is discussing security responses, including increased maritime presence and Intelligence Surveillance and Reconnaissance activities. It will seek to deter further such acts, reassure allies and demonstrate collective commitment to the security and stability of the region. Ministers discussed increasing shared intelligence assessments to ensure common situational awareness, as well as cooperation to secure critical infrastructure. The JEF will ensure complementarity, alignment and transparency with NATO as well as the investigation led by Danish, Swedish and German authorities.</p> <p>The JEF is a group of like-minded nations – Denmark, Estonia, Finland, Iceland, Latvia, Lithuania, Netherlands, Norway, Sweden, United Kingdom. The nations share the same purpose, values and a common focus on security and stability in the JEF core regions of the High North, North Atlantic and Baltic Sea region. The JEF provides a responsive, capable, and ready military force that undertakes integrated activities at sea, on land and in the air, across northern Europe. These activities are preventative and proportionate and demonstrate solidarity, capability, and resolve to stand together for security and stability in the JEF core regions.</p>

Aug 26, 2022Presidents and Foreign Ministers of the Baltic States visit Iceland

<span></span> <p><span>The foreign ministers of the Baltic states and Iceland signed a Joint Declaration today at a gathering in Höfði, Reykjavík, celebrating three decades of diplomatic relations between the countries. In the Declaration, the countries reaffirm their sincere commitment to cooperation, condemn the Russian invasion of Ukraine, and underscore their solidarity with the Ukrainian people. </span></p> <p><span>The presidents of the Baltic countries are on an official visit to Iceland along with their entourages. The occasion for the visit is that today marks 30 years since the countries resumed diplomatic relations after Iceland was the first to recognise the restored independence of Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania following the fall of the Soviet Union. </span></p> <p><span>This morning, a special celebratory gathering was held in Höfði, Reykjavík, where Mayor Dagur B. Eggertsson welcomed the guests. Short addresses were then given by Egils Levits, President of Latvia, Gitanas Nausèda, President of Lithuania, and Alar Karis, President of Estonia, after which Minister for Foreign Affairs Thórdís Kolbrún Reykfjörd Gylfadóttir recounted the milestone and put it in historical perspective. </span></p> <p><span>“It was also here on this day in August – 31 years ago that the Foreign Ministers of Estonia, Latvia, and Lithuania, and the Foreign Minister of Iceland, Mr Jón Baldvin Hannibalsson, signed the documents establishing diplomatic relations between each of the three Baltic countries and Iceland. In the political context of that time - this event was unusual,” Foreign Minister Gylfadóttir said in the address and added that other countries had followed suit and that the Baltic states had quickly gained international recognition as free and sovereign states.</span></p> <p><span>After the address, Thórdís Kolbrún Reykfjörd Gylfadóttir, Minister for Foreign Affairs of Iceland, Edgars Rinkēvičs, Minister of Foreign Affairs of Lativa, Urmas Reinsalu, Minister of Foreign Affairs of Estonia and Gabrielius Landsbergis, Minister of Foreign Affairs of Lithuania, signed a <a href="/library/01-Ministries/Ministry-for-Foreign-Affairs/PDF-skjol/Hofdi-Declaration2022%20ENG.pdf">Joint Declaration </a>marking three decades since the re-establishment of diplomatic relations between Iceland and the three countries. In the Declaration, the ministers reaffirm their political solidarity and their strong interest in further cultivating mutual friendship, fostering bilateral trade and connectivity, as well as enhancing international cooperation. </span></p> <p><span>The ministers go on to condemn “Russia’s unprovoked, unjustified, and unlawful war in Ukraine” and stress their steadfast unity with the Ukrainian people and commitment to provide further support for Ukraine as it stands up to Russia’s aggression “for all of Europe and values we share”. At the same time, the ministers underline their unwavering commitment to multilateralism, human rights and the democratic values on which the international system is based and declare support for free trade and reiterate the importance of cooperation on defence and security. They go on to state that addressing climate change is “more important than ever and a priority in our cooperation”. </span></p> <p><span>The visit by the leaders of the Baltic countries began yesterday with a visit to Althingi Parliament House and an official dinner at Bessastaðir at the invitation of President Guðni Th. Jóhannesson. After the gathering in Höfði this morning, the presidents and foreign ministers along with their retinues went to the University of Iceland. There, the President of Iceland delivered a talk on Icelandic support for Baltic independence, after which all the presidents participated in a panel discussion moderated by the Rector of the University of Iceland. The presidents then went to Viðey Island where Prime Minister Katrín Jakobsdóttir hosted a lunch. At the same time, the foreign ministers met for an informal lunch in central Reykjavík. In the afternoon, the heads of state and their delegations will visit the Hellisheiði geothermal power plant where they will be given presentations on the utilisation of green energy and the work of the Icelandic company Carbfix. From there, the group heads to Þingvellir where the official programme of the visit concludes.</span></p> <p><span><a href="/library/01-Ministries/Ministry-for-Foreign-Affairs/PDF-skjol/Hofdi-Declaration2022%20ENG.pdf">Full text of the Joint Declaration</a></span></p>

Jun 08, 2022Defence Ministers of the Northern Group met in Reykjavik

<p>Regional security in Northern Europe was the main topic of the ministerial meeting of the Northern Group which concluded in Reykjavik today.</p> <p>The ministers issued <a href="https://www.government.is/news/article/2022/06/08/Joint-Statement-by-the-Ministers-of-Defence-of-the-Northern-Group/">a joint statement i</a>n which they underline their condemnation of Russia’s invasion into Ukraine and their solidarity in face of the threat that the invasion poses to security in Europe and in the North Atlantic region. </p> <p>Iceland is currently chairing the Northern Group. Þórdís Kolbrún Reykfjörd Gylfadóttir, Minister for Foreign Affairs, chaired the meeting.</p> <p>The Ministers visited the security zone at Keflavik Airport. “It is valuable for us to be able to provide insight to our closest allies and partners into how we in Iceland manage our security and defence, and how we contribute to our shared security environment in the North Atlantic and the Arctic as a nation without armed forces. It is also important in light of the security situation in Europe, which we discussed in our meeting this morning and affects all our nations,” Minister Gylfadóttir says. </p> <p>The Northern Group is a security and defence forum of twelve like-minded Northern European nations. All the Nordic countries are members of the group, the Baltic states, the United Kingdom, the Netherlands, Poland and Germany. The Chair rotates every six months and will be assumed by Norway mid-year. </p> <p>Yesterday, on the sidelines of the ministerial meeting, Minister Gylfadóttir and Morten Bødskov, Minister of Defence of Denmark, signed a Memorandum of Understanding on increasing security and defence cooperation between the two countries. </p>

Jun 08, 2022Joint statement on the limited resumption of Arctic Council cooperation

<span></span> <p style="text-align: justify;"><span>In response to Russia’s full-scale invasion of Ukraine, a flagrant violation of the principles of sovereignty and territorial integrity, based on international law, the other Arctic Council founding states - Canada, Finland, Iceland, the Kingdom of Denmark, Norway, Sweden, and the United States - on March 3 announced a pause in their participation in the Arctic Council. Since March 3, representatives from these States have examined modalities to allow a resumption of the work in the Arctic Council.</span></p> <p>We remain convinced of the enduring value of the Arctic Council for circumpolar cooperation and reiterate our support for this forum and its important work. </p> <p>We intend to implement a limited resumption of our work in the Arctic Council, in projects that do not involve the participation of the Russian Federation. These projects, contained in the workplan approved by all eight Arctic States at the Reykjavik ministerial, are a vital component of our responsibility to the people of the Arctic, including Indigenous Peoples. </p> <p>We continue to examine additional modalities to allow us to further continue the Council’s important work. </p> <p><span>&nbsp;</span></p> <p><span>&nbsp;</span></p> <p><span>&nbsp;</span></p> <p><span>&nbsp;</span></p>

May 11, 2022Iceland's support for Ukraine reaches one billion ISK

<span></span> <p><span style="color: #0e101a;">Prime Minister Katrín Jakobsdóttir attended the High-Level International Donors’ Conference for Ukraine which took place in Warsaw earlier this month.</span></p> <p><span style="color: #0e101a;">At the conference, Prime Minister Jakobsdóttir announced a significant increase in Iceland's humanitarian and economic assistance to Ukraine with an additional contribution of 425 million ISK. </span></p> <p><span style="color: #0e101a;">The </span>pledge<span style="color: #0e101a;"> brings Iceland's total </span>support for Ukraine this year <span style="color: #0e101a;">to ISK one billion, equivalent to about €7.2 million</span>. <span style="color: #0e101a;">510 million ISK</span> have already been allocated to<span style="color: #0e101a;"> humanitarian assistance</span> through international organizations and <span style="color: #0e101a;">260 million</span> ISK have been allocated to<span style="color: #0e101a;"> economic emergency assistance to Ukraine</span> through the World Bank‘s multi-donor trust funds for Ukraine.</p> <p><span style="color: #0e101a;">"With this additional contribution we almost double our previous support for Ukraine, with a continued focus on humanitarian aid, support for those fleeing the conflict and vulnerable groups, as well as providing economic aid. Icelanders are eager to do everything they can to support Ukraine," says Prime Minister Katrín Jakobsdóttir.</span></p> <p><span style="color: #0e101a;">In her address to the conference, the Prime Minister reiterated the Government's unequivocal condemnation of Russia's war of aggression against Ukraine. The invasion is a serious violation of international law and its consequences are devastating for the civilian population of Ukraine. Special focus must be on the war's effect on women and children, not least when it comes to gender-based violence and human trafficking. Jakobsdóttir applauded the people of Poland and other neighbours of Ukraine for welcoming millions of refugees to their countries. Iceland remains a committed member of the broad international coalition in support of Ukraine.</span></p> <p><span style="color: #0e101a;">The conference was hosted by the Prime Ministers of Poland and Sweden, the President of the European Commission, and the President of the European Council.</span></p>

May 09, 2022President Volodymyr Zelensky‘s address to the Icelandic Parliament

<p><span>Volodymyr Zelensky, President of Ukraine, addressed members of the Icelandic Parliament (Althingi), the President of Iceland and the Government of Iceland in a live video address at a special session of Althingi on Friday 6 May. He was the first ever foreign head of state to address the Parliament of Iceland.</span></p> <p><span><a href="https://www.president.gov.ua/en/news/promova-prezidenta-ukrayini-v-altingu-parlamenti-islandiyi-74845" target="_blank">Here is an English transcript</a> of Zelensky‘s address.</span></p> <p><span>Following his address, Prime Minister Katrín Jakobsdóttir delivered a speech reaffirming Iceland's steadfast support for Ukraine. Guðni Th. Jóhannesson, President of Iceland, and Birgir Ármannsson, Speaker of the Althingi, also gave short addresses at the beginning of the meeting.</span></p> <p><span>“Your words challenge us to resist manufactured war narratives and to offer unreserved solidarity with Ukraine. I can assure you that the Icelandic government is prepared to do everything in its power to help the Ukrainian people during this time of exceptional need. We are resolutely part of the broad international alliance supporting Ukraine. As a non-armed country, Iceland’s support has been civilian in nature. We have primarily provided humanitarian and economic assistance and pledged to do more,” said Prime Minister Katrín Jakobsdóttir <a href="https://www.stjornarradid.is/raduneyti/forsaetisraduneytid/forsaetisradherra/stok-raeda-forsaetisradherra/2022/05/09/Avarp-Katrinar-Jakobsdottur-forsaetisradherra-til-Volodymyr-Zelenski-forseta-Ukrainu-vid-serstaka-athofn-a-Althingi-6.-mai-202/" target="_blank">in her speech</a>.&nbsp;</span></p> <p><span>Iceland stands in full solidarity with Ukraine and will continue to align itself completely with EU sanctions imposed on Russia in response to the invasion, provide humanitarian and financial assistance to Ukraine, and offer asylum to those seeking refuge from the conflict.</span></p> <p><span>The special session of the Althingi can be watched here:</span></p> <iframe src="https://player.vimeo.com/video/707869346?h=cf91999b36" width="640" height="360" frameborder="0" allow="autoplay; fullscreen; picture-in-picture" title="President Volodymyr Zelensky‘s address to the Icelandic Parliament"></iframe>

Apr 25, 2022Iceland to welcome up to 140 vulnerable refugees from Ukraine

<p>The Government of Iceland approved on April 22 a recommendation of the Prime Minister, Minister of Social Affairs and the Labour Market, Minister of Justice, Minister for Foreign Affairs, Minister of Health, and the Minister of Education and Children to accept the proposals of the Refugee Committee to specifically welcome groups of vulnerable refugees fleeing the war in Ukraine.</p> <p>On 22 March, the Government approved a proposal by the Minister of Social Affairs and the Labour Market, Gudmundur Ingi Gudbrandsson, to task the Refugee Committee with making proposals to welcome groups of especially vulnerable refugees from Ukraine. The committee was also tasked with making proposals on how to help Ukraine’s neighbouring countries, which have received high numbers of refugees since the invasion began.</p> <p>The Government’s first response and actions in keeping with the Refugee Committee’s proposals will be as follows:</p> <ul style="list-style-type: disc;"> <li>Receive up to 100 individuals who have fled to Moldova from Ukraine. Moldova is one of Europe’s poorest countries but has received about 450,000 refugees and is facing challenges in providing them with the help they need.</li> <li>Receive five to seven disabled children and their families. An appeal has come from polish authorities for other countries to receive disabled children from Ukraine currently situated in Poland. It is essential to take good care of this group, which requires substantial support and services. The estimated number of disabled children and their families is about 15-20 individuals. </li> <li>Icelandic authorities will receive sick and injured individuals and their close relatives. Requests to receive individuals who require medical care come from a European database. Representatives of the Ministry of Health and the Department of Civil Protection and Emergency Management will monitor requests and evaluate the health care system’s capacity to meet them.</li> </ul> <p>More than 820 individuals from Ukraine have already applied for protection in Iceland. This number is expected to rise in the coming weeks and months. Between 120 and 140 people are expected to come to Iceland with the Government’s decision to specifically welcome vulnerable groups from Ukraine. </p>

Mar 07, 2022The Minister of Justice permits temporary protection due to mass flight

<p>The Minister of Justice has decided, following local and international consultations, to immediately activate Article 44 of the Foreign Nationals Act No 80/2016, in light of the mass flight following the Russian invasion of Ukraine. This decision is taken in keeping with the EU’s decision to initiate the same kind of action, as provided for in Directive 2001/55/EC on temporary protection in the event of a mass influx of displaced persons. The reception of refugees in Iceland will cover the same defined groups as determined by the EU. This method is first and foremost intended to make it possible to aid those who flee from Ukraine swiftly and effectively, namely by granting them temporary protection, without the reception and aid overwhelming Iceland’s protection system.<br /> <br /> The UN Refugee Agency has issued notifications on the mass flight from Ukraine and has estimated that up to 4 million people will flee the conflict in the coming days and weeks. The Ministry of Justice has worked closely with the Schengen member states, including in preparation for the pending activation of Directive 2001/55/EC on temporary protection in the event of a mass influx of displaced persons.<br /> <br /> Article 44 states that “A foreign national who is a member of a group which flees a specified region and arrives in Iceland, or is in Iceland when the provisions of the article are applied, may upon application for international protection be granted protection on the basis of a group assessment”, i.e. collective protection. This means that foreign nationals will be granted a residence permit on humanitarian grounds under Article 74 of the Foreign Nationals Act No 80/2016.<br /> <br /> Such a residence permit is issued for one year at a time, with the possibility to renew or extend it for up to three years from the time a permit was first issued. After that time, a permit may be issued under Article 74 that can become the basis for a permanent residence permit. One year after such a permit is issued, i.e. the fourth year from the issuance of the first permit, a permanent residence permit may be issued, provided that conditions for holding the permit still exist and other requirements are met.<br /> <br /> Access to services<br /> <br /> A residence permit granted to individuals on these grounds entails the same rights and access to services as a residence permit on humanitarian grounds, in keeping with Article 74 of the Foreign Nationals Act. It entails access to housing, maintenance, social services, health care services and access to the labour market. These rights are, for the most part, the same as those that individuals will receive in other European countries on the basis of Directive 2001/55/EC.<br /> <br /> Right to employment<br /> <br /> Under the current Foreign Nationals’ Right to Work Act, No 97/2002, those who receive a residence permit on humanitarian grounds only receive conditional access to the Icelandic labour market, which is based on the requirement that an employer must apply for a work permit for the person in question. Ukrainian refugees will therefore have access to the Icelandic labour market. A Bill of Amendment to the Foreign Nationals Act, which is now being prepared by the Ministry of Justice, proposes to amend these provisions of the Foreign Nationals’ Right to Work Act so that all persons who receive a residence permit on humanitarian grounds will receive a work permit along with the residence permit, automatically and without intermediaries.<br /> <br /> <br /> </p>

Feb 27, 2022Further solidarity measures for Ukraine

<p>Iceland has decided to close its airspace to Russian air traffic and suspend visa facilitation for Russian officials, business people and other such parties.</p> <p>"Like our friends and allies, we stand in solidarity with the Ukrainian people. Iceland will fully participate in measures taken against the unlawful military actions of Russia against Ukraine,“ says Thórdís Kolbrún Reykfjörd Gylfadóttir, Minister for Foreign Affairs of Iceland. She announced on Twitter this morning that the air space of Iceland will be closed to Russian air traffic.</p> <blockquote class="twitter-tweet"> <p lang="en" dir="ltr">Iceland has decided to close its airspace to Russian air traffic, in solidarity with <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/Ukraine?src=hash&%3bref_src=twsrc%5etfw">#Ukraine</a> 🇮🇸 🇺🇦</p> — Þórdís Kolbrún Reykfjörð Gylfadóttir (@thordiskolbrun) <a href="https://twitter.com/thordiskolbrun/status/1497872003386253313?ref_src=twsrc%5etfw">February 27, 2022</a></blockquote> <script async src="https://platform.twitter.com/widgets.js" charset="utf-8"></script> <p>The restriction entails that all aircraft owned, chartered or operated or otherwise controlled by citizens of the Russian Federation and all operators holding air operator certificate (AOC) issued by the Russian Federation are prohibited to enter, exit or overfly Icelandic Airspace. The Icelandic airspace is approximately 180,000 square kilometres.</p> <img alt="" src="/library/01-Ministries/Ministry-for-Foreign-Affairs/Myndir/airspace.JPG?amp%3bproc=LargeImage" />&nbsp; <h6><em>Picture: The airspace of Iceland</em></h6> <p>The Government of Iceland has also decided to suspend visa facilitation for Russian officials, business people, parliamentarians, diplomats and others such parties A bilateral visa facilitation agreement from 2008 between Iceland and Russia allowed for the simplified procedure. The decision to suspend the agreement is in line with EU‘s decision on 25 February to partially suspend its visa facilitation agreement with Russia.&nbsp; The Ministry for Foreign Affairs notified the decision to the Russian Ambassador who was called to the Ministry.&nbsp;</p> <p>These measures are in addition to sanctions by European states that Iceland has already decided to participate in as well as those that are expected to be announced by the EU today.</p>

Feb 24, 2022Iceland strongly condemns Russia’s attacks on Ukraine

<p>The Government of Iceland strongly condemns Russia’s attacks on Ukraine and expresses deep concern for the destruction and suffering that Russia’s invasion of Ukraine will inevitably cause.</p> <p><span>"Our thoughts are with the innocent people in Ukraine who suffer this unprovoked invasion by Russia. Iceland strongly condemns Russia's illegal invasion of Ukraine. We call on Russia to cease its military action, which can have devastating consequences. Russia’s attack is a serious violation of international law, which demands a strong response by the international community," says Katrín Jakobsdóttir, Prime Minister.</span></p> <p>"Russia's attack on Ukraine is a serious threat to European security. We stand in full solidarity with our allies and closest partners and we will take full part in international sanctions, that are to be issued immediately. Iceland reiterates its unwavering support to Ukraine and condemns this attack on Ukraine and its territorial integrity. We call on Russia to withdraw its military forces immediately from Ukraine,“ says Thórdís Kolbrún Reykfjörd Gylfadóttir, Minister for Foreign Affairs.</p> <p>NATO has taken necessary measures by increasing and strengthening its response and defence capabilities. The North Atlantic Council met this morning to consult on the basis of Article 4 of the North Atlantic Treaty. Under this article, any Ally can request consultations when their territorial integrity, political independence or security is threatened. The strengthening of NATO‘s collective defence posture could result in increased activity and visibility of Allied forces on Allied territory.</p> <p>Iceland will continue its support for Ukraine, by taking full part in international sanctions. Iceland will respond to humanitarian needs by providing EUR 1 million for humanitarian support in Ukraine. This is in addition to a EUR 200,000 contribution to NATO’s Trust Fund for Ukraine Professional Development Programme.</p> <p>Yesterday and today the Ministry for Foreign Affairs summoned the Russian Ambassador to reiterate Iceland’s position.</p> <p>The Ministry’s consular services have been in contact with 28 individuals in Ukraine, including 16 Icelandic citizens, and will continue to work closely with the consular services of the other Nordic countries.</p>

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