Iceland to Hire Canadian Mediator in Icesave Talks? Skip to content

Iceland to Hire Canadian Mediator in Icesave Talks?

The Icelandic government is allegedly planning to appoint a Canadian mediator in case the UK and the Netherlands agree to renegotiate on the Icesave debt. The Icelandic government and the opposition are expected to discuss this option today or tomorrow.

The government offices in Iceland. Photo by Páll Stefánsson.

The possibility of enlisting a third party to mediate negotiations on the Icesave debt has been discussed for some time. The Norwegian government assisted Iceland in this regard earlier this month, after the Icelandic president vetoed the Icesave legislation, Stöd 2 reports.

Therefore it was deemed likely that a Norwegian mediator would be appointed—as reported by some newspapers in Norway last week—Germany and France were also named as potential mediators.

However, MPs for the Movement were against appointing a Nordic mediator, pointing out that Norwegian authorities had taken a position against Iceland in the Icesave dispute so far.

Now Stöd 2’s sources state that a Canadian mediator is the most likely option. It is unclear who would assume that role and also whether British and Dutch authorities agree to this arrangement. A clear answer is expected later this week.

Fréttabladid reports that the UK and the Netherlands are prepared to discuss a different interest rate on their loans to Iceland for Icesave. The current agreement includes a 5.55 percent interest rate, which many have deemed too high and unfair.

The newspaper’s sources state that there are two items on which British and Dutch authorities won’t budge: a cross-political reconciliation in Iceland on Icesave and a recognition of Iceland’s obligation to cover the minimum deposit insurance according to the EEA agreement, EUR 20,887 (USD 29,065) for each Icesave deposit.

According to Morgunbladid, there are indications that the Norwegian Socialist Left Party (SV) is planning a more decisive stand on the Icesave issue, demanding that the Nordic loans for Iceland won’t depend on the dispute surrounding the Icesave debt and also that the Icesave debt be lowered.

Representatives of the socialist left parties of all of the Nordic countries will meet in Copenhagen today at their annual convention.

Icelandic Minister of Finance Steingrímur J. Sigfússon and chairman of the Left-Greens flew to Copenhagen yesterday to attend the meeting.

“The situation in Iceland will likely be discussed,” Sigfússon said, adding that he will speak with Kristin Halvorsen of the Norwegian SV party, who served as Norway’s finance minister during the first year of the Icesave debate.

Sigfússon and Icelandic opposition leaders traveled to the Netherlands late last week to meet with representatives of the British and Dutch governments.

“It wasn’t a negotiation meeting so we were never planning to solve the matter but nonetheless I think the meeting was useful, that the situation has become clearer and that both parties understand the situation better,” Sigfússon told Morgunbladid.

“They want to solve this matter but at the same time they want to be careful because, understandably, they don’t want to get mixed into a sensitive political situation in Iceland and a sensitive process following a national referendum,” the minister said of the position of British and Dutch authorities.

Click here to read more about Icesave.

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