Alp Mehmet, the British ambassador to Iceland, said Sunday on Kastljos, an evening news program on Iceland State Television, that there are over 100,000 Britons employed by Icelanders.
When asked why the British media is so interested in Icelandic companies, he replied, “It’s not for me to comment on specific companies or specific allegations, that is for others to do. Iceland now, Icelandic companies, Icelandic interests either control or own companies in Britain that employ something like 100,000 Britons. That’s why Iceland is important to us. It’s a mutual advantage. The business, the trade that is going on in Britain is Iceland’s biggest trading partner. We are the nearest country. We have had historical links that go back many generations. We came here in 1940 and we are now commemorating the end of the war which saw so much happening in Iceland. Britons and Icelanders whether they like it or not – and I like it – we are interlinked in a way in which I think we can help each other to make progress in all sorts of areas, not just trade.”
Mr. Mehmet has been the British Ambassador to Iceland since 2004, from 1989 -1993 he lived in Reykjavík as the Deputy Head of Mission and Consul. On the embassy’s homepage he writes, “An exciting year lies ahead for us at the embassy with a whole host of visitors – artists, musicians, writers and many more; including a further 80,000 or so Brits, who will come to enjoy the stunning country and fabulous summer nights. It’s amazing how many of my countrymen tell me that they have always wanted to come to Iceland “one of those things I always wanted to do before I was too old” said one friend. You can never be too old or too young to enjoy Iceland, was my response.” (http://www.britishembassy.gov.uk/servlet/Front?pagename=OpenMarket/Xcelerate/ShowPage&c=”Page&” cid=”
In the interview, he also comments on the aftermaths of the terrorist attacks in London, the trade relationship between Iceland and Britain, and what the British embassy has done to develop the relationship between the two nations. He is asked about his own background and his years in the in the foreign service. When asked about the changes in Iceland he says, “Essentially, I find that the Icelander is still the Icelander he, she always was. I don’t think that the Icelandic people have changed, and that’s the important thing”. He continues to say that size isn’t everything and that “300,000 talented, hardworking people can achieve a hell of a lot”.
He ends the interview by saying, in Icelandic, that the British nation appreciates the condolences of the Icelandic nation.
The entire interview is available on http://www.ruv.is/