Klaustur MPs No-Show at Committee Meeting Skip to content
Gunnar Bragi and Sigmundur Davíð
Photo: Gunnar Bragi (left) and Sigmundur Davíð (right)..

Klaustur MPs No-Show at Committee Meeting

Sigmundur Davíð Gunnlaugsson and Gunnar Bragi Sveinsson did not attend an open meeting today with the Parliament’s Constitutional and Supervisory Committee, Fréttablaðið reports. The meeting covers a supposed plan for ambassadorial appointments which were discussed by the duo at Klaustur Bar, along with other MPs.

Ambassador’s favour

The matter revolves around discussions at the bar about Gunnar Bragi Sveinsson and his wish to become an ambassador for Iceland abroad. Gunnar Bragi Sveinsson appointed former prime minister Geir H. Haarde as ambassador in Washington when Gunnar himself was the Minister of Foreign Affairs. In the Klaustur Bar recordings, it is revealed that Gunnar believes he is owed a favour by Sjálfstæðisflokkurinn, whom Geir H. Haarde was a part of, and expected to be appointed to an ambassadorial position abroad, in return.

“I won’t take part in this show”

Sigmundur Davíð and Gunnar Bragi sent separate statements which were read at the beginning of the meeting by the committee’s chairperson Helga Vala Helgadóttir. Both stated the recordings at Klaustur are illegal and that they refuse to attend a meeting which is planned with malicious intent.

Gunnar Bragi stated that he has nothing to add to what has already been said about the Klaustur recordings. Gunnar states he has already admitted that what he said at Klaustur was factually incorrect. At the end of the statement, he said that MPs have no duty to attend such meetings, “especially when they are summoned to score a point against political adversaries.”

Sigmundur Davíð stated that the meeting’s subject was to draw assumptions which the committee’s chairperson, Helga Vala Helgadóttir, wants to assume from “cut-and-pasted sound recordings” which were illegitimately obtained. He stated that no formal investigation had taken place, and that it was impossible to say what has been cut from the recordings and what has been pasted together.

Sigmundur Davíð is the former Prime Minister of Iceland who was featured prominently in the Panama Papers, while Gunnar Bragi Sveinsson is the former Minister of Foreign Affairs. Both are members of recently formed party centrist populist party Miðflokkurinn, which broke away from Framsóknarflokkurinn in September 2017, under Sigmundur Davíð’s leadership.

Ministers answer

Both Minister of Finances Bjarni Benediktsson and Minister of Foreign Affairs Guðlaugur Þór Þórðarson attended the meeting and were questioned, Mbl.is reports. Bjarni Benediktsson stated that he took no part in Gunnar Bragi’s decisions on the ambassador position in Washington and that he made no promises to Gunnar Bragi about such a position. He stated he knew of Gunnar Bragi’s interest of an ambassadorial position. A meeting between Bjarni, Gunnar Bragi, and Sigmundur had taken place last fall, but he stated they simply discussed the matter rather than making promises.

Guðlaugur Þór Þórðarson stated that he never promised to appoint Gunnar Bragi as an ambassador and that it was not planned to appoint him as ambassador. He also denied that it had been suggested to him that he owed others any favours when it came to appointing ambassadors. He did attend a meeting with Bjarni Benediktsson and Sigmundur Davíð Gunnlaugsson where the discussed Gunnar Bragi’s interest in a diplomatic position.

Guðlaugur also pointed out that he has not appointed an ambassador in his time as Minister of Foreign Affairs. In fact, ambassadors have been reduced from 40 to 37. He encouraged the committee to review how ambassadorial appointments take place. Out of the 37 ambassadors, 25 are male and 12 are female.

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