The 138th legislative parliamentary session at Althingi, the Icelandic parliament, formally began yesterday with a sermon in the Reykjavík Cathedral, followed by President of Iceland Ólafur Ragnar Grímsson’s opening speech in the parliamentary building.
President of Iceland Ólafur Ragnar Grímsson. Photo by Páll Kjartansson.
In his speech, the president said that the most difficult phase in Iceland’s latter time history was hopefully coming to an end, Morgunbladid reports.
“Many hindrances lie behind us, actions which turned into issues of debate and became difficult to execute. They were painful, not only for those who demonstrated inadvertence or thoughtlessness but also a number of people who were moderate and careful,” the president said.
“Now the innocent carry heavy loads created by immoderate selfishness and greed. Thousands of households are still struggling with serious problems: unemployment, insolvency. Uncertainty, fear even, awaits people when they wake up in the mornings. Loss of wages and loads of debt shape the daily life.”
“The [Icesave] dispute with two neighboring countries has not been solved and other nations are waiting to keep their promises,” the president continued. “All of this is a burdensome experience. The responsibility of us who were, and still are, elected representatives of the nation is unambiguous and fateful.”
The president ended his speech on a positive note, mentioning that unemployment is not as severe as feared, young people believe in their country, traditional industries are delivering and that the tourist industry had made more profit last summer than in previous summers. In many fields, Iceland’s reputation remained intact, he stated.
Speaker of Parliament Ásta R. Jóhannesdóttir said in her speech that extensive projects would have to be handled during the parliament’s autumn session and encouraged ministers to speed up the issues they want to conclude before the end of this year.
Jóhannesdóttir also mentioned that formal negotiations are scheduled to begin between Iceland and the European Union at the beginning of next year and although they are mainly the responsibility of the government, the parliament will also be partly involved.