Iceland will not have a seat on the United Nations Security Council in 2009 and 2010 as it had campaigned for. Austria and Turkey were elected to the council instead at the UN General Assembly in New York on Friday.
Iceland received 87 votes, Austria 135 and Turkey 151, Fréttabladid reports.
“These results were surprising,” said Iceland’s Foreign Minister Ingibjörg Sólrún Gísladóttir, who attended the election despite formally being on sick leave. Almost 140 states had declared support for Iceland before the election.
When asked why she believed Iceland had lost against Austria and Turkey, Gísladóttir said both states had been strong candidates with a rooted and powerful foreign affairs service and that they had invested as much in their campaign as Iceland had.
“Compared to them we are a little bit out in the open,” Gísladóttir said. “Although, of course, one joins this kind of fight only if one plans to win.” The minister added that the economic crisis in Iceland and Britain’s attitude towards Iceland had not helped Iceland’s cause either.
Iceland’s campaign cost around ISK 250 million (USD 2.2 million, EUR 1.7 million). Gísladóttir does not believe that money was wasted although Iceland was not elected to the Security Council. “[It] is an experience that will be very useful for us. In my mind it has been an important and useful marketing initiative.”
The other Nordic countries supported Iceland’s candidacy and Gísladóttir believes that the countries’ cooperation in relation to the campaign has strengthened their cooperation in the field of foreign affairs, safety and defense matters “and I believe it will be of great value to us in the future.”
Since the Nordic countries take turns in campaigning for a seat on the council, up to 20 years may pass until Iceland get’s another chance to present itself for candidacy.
Click here to read more about Iceland’s motivations for joining the UN Security Council.