A delegation of Norwegian government officials, headed by deputy secretary Martin Skancke of Norway’s Finance Ministry, is currently in Iceland to discuss the economic crisis with representatives of the Icelandic government.
“I am pleased to be able to welcome the Norwegian delegation and look forward to discussing our situation with the representatives of the Norwegian authorities,” said Iceland’s Prime Minister Geir H. Haarde in a statement issued by the government of Iceland.
“Norway is our closest neighbor and our common history and culture are strong foundations for the relationship between our two countries. […] We truly appreciate the delegation’s decision to take the time to meet us on short notice,” the prime minister added.
“There is a twofold purpose for our coming here. Firstly, we want to learn about the situation in this country and secondly, we want to discuss with Icelandic authorities how Norway and other Nordic countries can be of assistance to Icelanders,” Skancke told Morgunbladid.
“We are here on behalf of the Norwegian government and our presence here shows that we want to help Icelanders emerge from this situation as soon as possible with as little damage as possible to the common wage earner in the country,” Skancke continued.
“But the initiative has to come from the Icelandic government. They have not submitted any special requests to that effect, but our presence here shows that we are serious,” Skancke concluded.
“I want us to cooperate with Norway as much as possible on this, regardless of how the situation unfolds, because in many ways they are our most natural and closest ally,” said Steingrímur J. Sigfússon, leader of the Left-Greens, the largest opposition party.
Sigfússon said the Norwegian authorities had decided to send the delegation to Iceland, among other reasons, because of recent articles he had written on the situation in the Norwegian press. “[It put] a certain pressure behind the issue. In fact […] there was multipartisan will and solidarity in Norway that the country contribute its efforts.”
Sigfússon commented that sending the delegation to Iceland was an act of goodwill on behalf of Norwegian authorities, although he would have preferred Icelandic authorities to formally request assistance from Norway sooner. “It is rather late considering we are about to end up under the yoke of the International Monetary Fund.”
Meetings between representatives of the Icelandic government and the Norwegian delegation were held yesterday and this morning. The Norwegian Ambassador to Iceland and a representative of the Swedish government also participated in the talks.