Iceland’s President Talks About “Odd Dutch Finance Minister” Skip to content

Iceland’s President Talks About “Odd Dutch Finance Minister”

On an interview in Bylgjan Radio on Sunday morning the President of Iceland talked about his veto of the Icesave-agreement between Iceland and the Dutch and UK governments. The President has been accused of using his veto power to enhance his popularity, but he denied this. He said that no president could use the veto in such a manner.

“If people think that I have been seeking the spotlight, I can tell you that for the fifty years that I have been in the spotlight I have long ago has my share of that.” President Ólafur Ragnar Grímsson said that even old supporters and even friends had turned against him because of decisions that he took when he vetoed the two Icesave agreements. It is interesting to note that the President did not veto the first measure that went through Althingi, an amended agreement, which was rejected by the British and the Dutch governments. This agreement was better for the two countries (and hence worse for Iceland) than the agreement rejected by almost 60% of the nation a week ago.

The President was asked about an interview he gave to Bloomberg in which he attacked the Moody’s rating agency bitterly. He has been criticized for the interview in Iceland, but brushed off all critique. He claimed that the interview had silenced discussions abroad that the failed Landsbanki would not pay anything to the two nations. “Even this odd Dutch Finance Minister, he stopped talking about this.”

President Ólafur Ragnar Grímsson with Landsbanki CEO Halldór Kristjánsson and Landsbanki owner and Chairman Björgólfur Gudmundsson

President Grímsson was close to the Icelandic businessmen who lead the banking revolution, which eventually lead to the Icesave crisis. Some have called the President the “cheerleader” of the rich. In the report on the crisis commissioned by Althingi the President’s role was discussed at length. The president praised the so-called “Business Vikings” in many speeches. Björgólfur Gudmundsson, chairman and biggest owner of the now bankrupt Landsbanki, the Icesave bank, was close to the President and received the order of the Falcon for his business achievements.

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