Iceland’s Former PM Quizzed on BBC’s HARDtalk Skip to content

Iceland’s Former PM Quizzed on BBC’s HARDtalk

Iceland’s former Prime Minister Geir H. Haarde, who has returned to his duties as MP after undergoing surgery in the Netherlands, was interviewed by Stephen Sackur on the flagship BBC television program HARDtalk yesterday.

Sackur demanded a clear answer on whether Haarde was prepared to apologize to his nation for the mistakes he had made as prime minister and minister of finance before that, Fréttabladid reports.

Geir H. Haarde. Copyright: Icelandic Photo Agency.

“I don’t think there are any obvious single mistakes. I think this is a sequence of events. […] And I think that if you want to go into the blame business, a lot of people would have to share that blame among themselves,” Haarde said in the interview.

Then Sackur pressed, “The people who put you in power want to know that you’re prepared to take your share of the blame. Are you prepared to say sorry?”

“When and if I say that, that’ll be after the result of our investigation comes out. I will take my part of the responsibility when the results are clear,” Haarde replied.

Haarde would not confirm whether Central Bank governor and chairman Davíd Oddsson, his “mentor,” as Sackur described him, had repeatedly warned him about the imminent collapse of the Icelandic financial system.

Haarde described the actions undertaken by UK authorities last October to ensure that British depositors with the Icelandic banks didn’t lose their savings—applying the anti-terrorism legislation from 2001, first on the Icelandic state and then on Landsbanki—as, “Totally out of proportion […], completely inexcusable, unnecessary and without warning.”

Sackur asked whether Haarde had expressed these views to British Prime Minister Gordon Brown. “I haven’t spoken to him since,” Haarde said, then, upon enquiry, admitted that perhaps he should have.

Haarde said that what he had learned from the collapse of the Icelandic banking system was that it is not possible to have a completely open economy as small as in Iceland, with absolute free flow of funds and its own currency.

However, the former PM was not prepared to recommend Iceland join the European Union and adopt the euro.

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