Representatives of the opposition parties in Iceland’s parliament will be called into separate meetings with Foreign Minister Össur Skarphédinsson today to discuss matters concerning the European Union. The government is hoping for solidarity.
The EU Central Bank in Frankfurt, Germany. Copyright: Icelandic Photo Agency.
Yesterday, the leaders of the coalition parties, Prime Minister Jóhanna Sigurdardóttir of the Social Democrats and Finance Minister Steingrímur J. Sigfússon of the Left-Greens, invited the opposition chairmen of the Independence and Progressive Parties, Bjarni Benediktsson and Sigmundur Davíd Gunnlaugsson, and Birgitta Jónsdóttir, an MP for the Civic Movement, in for a meeting where their parliamentary resolution on launching EU membership talks was presented, Morgunbladid reports.
The meeting attendees are bound by confidentiality, but Benediktsson commented, “This parliamentary resolution, which is the basis for membership discussions with the EU, was very surprising to me.” Gunnlaugsson added that he had expected the format to be totally different.
Skarphédinsson explained that there is not much difference between his views and those of the Progressive Party as to the way membership discussions should be launched. “I’m prepared to listen to whether the party’s leadership believes there is reason to change items in this resolution.”
The foreign minister pointed out that the Civic Movement has a very clear attitude towards this matter and has presented three terms. “I’m very keen on talking with the MPs of the Civic Movement about this matter because I don’t think it will be difficult to fulfill these terms and, in fact, I agree with all of them.”
In regard to the Independence Party, Skarphédinsson said he is well aware of their attitude. “But I believe it is my duty to examine whether there is any basis for reaching an agreement. I’ve listened attentively to the speeches the chairman has held at Althingi on the EU and I consider him a both perceptive and farsighted politician.”
The coalition parties’ proposal, which is the responsibility of the foreign minister, is direct and the resolution short. “It is not my style to have long, voluminous resolutions about an issue which isn’t particularly complicated,” Skarphédinsson stated, adding:
“We are trying to achieve a certain stage so that the nation can take a position in a referendum in an informed manner, that is, having the agreement in front of them. That agreement will either be rejected or accepted.”
According to Skarphédinsson, the resolution will be submitted to the Althingi parliament next week and then the matter is in the hands of the parliament. He stated that the matter is well prepared on behalf of the government.
Prime Minister Jóhanna Sigurdardóttir has declared that the government’s policy is to submit an application for EU membership in July.
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