Request Explanation of Weapons Purchased for Council of Europe Summit

The institute responsible for overseeing state purchases in Iceland wants the Police Commissioner to tally and justify the purchase of weapons and equipment for the Council of Europe Summit held in Iceland last month. Icelandic police spent ISK 185 million [$1.3 million, €1.2 million] from the state treasury on weapons for the summit and an additional ISK 151 million [$1.1 million, €1 million] on equipment such as helmets and vests. Morgunblaðið reported first.

Read More: Armed Police and Snipers in Reykjavík for Council of Europe Summit

Central Public Procurement (Ríkiskaup), the institution responsible for handling the purchasing of supplies and service for state institutions has asked the Police Commissioner to submit a formal report on the purchases of weapons and equipment made for the European Council Summit to the Publications Office of the European Union and justify the purchases and how they were made.

A press release from police states that the total cost of the summit will be published before the end of July, including salary costs of 650 Icelandic police officers, 96 foreign police officers, and 120 other staff members of police who took part in the event. Salary costs for the event have already been estimated at ISK 1.4 billion [$10.3 million, €9.3 million]. Despite requests, police have not made public the number of weapons that were purchased for the summit, but underlined in the press release that the weapons purchased were mostly Glock pistols and MP5 submachine guns, “not machine guns.”

The security around the summit, which took place on May 16 and 17 in Reykjavík’s Harpa Concert Hall and Conference Centre, was unlike anything ever before seen in Iceland. Large parts of the city centre were blocked off to the public and to motor vehicles and roads were closed temporarily for police-escorted heads of state travelling to and from the event.

Read More: A Matter of State

The press release from police emphasises the short period of time the institution had to prepare for the event and the relatively long time required to commission and deliver equipment to Iceland, implying that decisions on purchases needed to be made rapidly. Minister of Justice Jón Gunnarsson has stated that police will keep the weapons and equipment purchased for the event.

More Cod, Haddock, and Herring in 2023-2024 Fishing Season

coastal fishing boat

Iceland’s Marine and Freshwater Research Institute (MFRI) has released advice on fishing opportunities for over 20 fish and invertebrate stocks in Icelandic waters for the 2023-2024 year. The recommendations include a 1% increase in the total allowable catch for cod, a 23% increase for haddock, and a 40% increase for herring, three key species for the Icelandic fishing industry. Fishing quotas issued by authorities are based on the MFRI’s recommendations.

More cod, haddock, and herring

The advised TAC (total allowable catch) for cod has been increased as there is a higher estimate of the reference biomass compared to the previous year. That mass is also expected to increase slightly in the next two or three years when the 2019 and 2020 cohorts of cod will be counted as adult fish. Those cohorts are estimated to be above average in terms of size. The 2023-2024 TAC for haddock will be 76,415 tonnes, a 23% increase from the previous year’s allowable catch, as the 2019-2021 cohorts are above average.

The stock size of the Icelandic summer spawning herring has increased following a period of constant decline between 2008 and 2019. Therefore, the advice for the 2023-2024 fishing year is 92,634 tonnes or a 40% increase from the previous fishing year’s TAC. Golden redfish advice represents a 62% increase from the previous year, but as recruitment in the species has been low, the advice is likely to decrease sharply in the coming years.

Less saithe and scallop and no beaked redfish

Recommendations for some fish and invertebrates have decreased compared to the previous fishing year, however. The advice for saithe, an important species for coastal fishermen, has been decreased by 7%. The total allowable catch for Iceland scallop has decreased by 19%, and the MFRI advises that no catch should be taken for demersal beaked redfish in the 2023-2024 year, as the stock is now estimated to be below the limit reference point for spawning stock biomass. It is not expect to recover in the near future.

The recommendations can be seen in full on the MFRI website.

Iceland to Close Embassy in Moscow

Minister for Foreign Affairs Þórdís Kolbrún Reykfjörð Gylfadóttir

The embassy of Iceland in Moscow will be shut down on August 1, according to a press release from Iceland’s Ministry for Foreign Affairs. Icelandic authorities have also requested the Russian embassy in Reykjavík scale down its operations so there is no longer a Russian ambassador in Iceland. These changes do not mean a complete severing of diplomatic relations between Iceland and Russia, however.

Ukraine’s Minister for Foreign Affairs thanked Þórdís Kolbrún Reykfjörð Gylfadóttir, his Icelandic counterpart, for the decision to suspend operations of its embassy in Moscow and request Russia to limit the operations of its embassy in Reykjavík. “Russia must see that barbarism leads to complete isolation. I encourage other states to follow Iceland’s example,” he tweeted.

Þórdís Kolbrún told RÚV that the decision was made after extensive consideration, adding “it is not suitable for there to be so much Russian activity here in Reykjavík because of how relations are very limited and will continue to be until the Russians decide to behave in a different way than they are doing now.”

Iceland has operated an embassy in Moscow since 1944 with the exception of 1951-1953. The last time there was no Russian ambassador in Iceland was 1948-1954. “The decision to close down the embassy’s activities does not imply the termination of the diplomatic relationship between the countries,” the press release from the Ministry for Foreign Affairs states. “As soon as conditions permit, emphasis will be placed on resuming the activities of the Icelandic embassy in Moscow.”

Don’t Feed Birds Bread in Summer, Says City of Reykjavík

Giving bread to ducklings on Reykjavík Pond could turn them into seagulls’ dinner, according to a notice from the City of Reykjavík. The pond (Tjörnin) is known for its vibrant birdlife, including ducks, swans, and geese, which both locals and tourists enjoy visiting. The city has asked visitors to stop bringing along bread for the birds, however, as it attracts seagulls to the pond, which are then more likely to feed on ducklings as well.

“With an increase in lesser black-backed gulls at Tjörnin comes an increase in the likelihood that newly hatched ducklings will become their prey,” the notice reads. “Ducks have enough food for themselves and their ducklings at Tjörnin throughout the summer and therefore it’s not necessary to feed them. A large quantity of bread can increase the organic pollution in the pond, especially because the number of birds increases dramatically when the gulls show up to the pond. The droppings from the birds, as well as the bread itself, increases organic pollution.”

While the city asks visitors to avoid feeding the ducks between May 15 and August 15, the same is not true for the rest of the year. “It’s safe to feed the birds in Tjörnin throughout the fall and winter months and such support is welcome, especially when the weather is at its coldest during midwinter, as food for ducks can be of short supply during that time of year.”

Deep North Episode 29: Home Cook

gísli matt slippurinn

The ferry ride is only about half an hour on most days and is generally a perfectly pleasant experience. Even the rough weather this morning hadn’t deterred a full boat of day trippers on their way to visit the islands, see the puffins, hear about the 1973 eruption, and, most importantly, taste the food. Vestmannaeyjar have been lauded as the country’s most exciting culinary destination outside the Reykjavík city centre, even though the volcanic island isn’t home to any agriculture. The islands are home to a high percentage of fishermen, though, and a chef called Gísli Matthías Auðunsson. And his restaurant, Slipurinn, is serving up some of Iceland’s most exciting cuisine.

Read the full story.