President of Iceland Maintains View on Icesave Skip to content

President of Iceland Maintains View on Icesave

President of Iceland Ólafur Ragnar Grímsson said in an interview with Icelandic national broadcaster RÚV yesterday that he is still of the opinion that Icelanders were right in rejecting the demands the British and Dutch governments made in regards to Landsbanki’s Icesave accounts.


President of Iceland Ólafur Ragnar Grímsson. Photo by Páll Stefánsson.

He described their demands as “ridiculous” and would like the European Union to investigate how its member states could have supported them, reports.

The International Monetary Fund was used, he said, with acceptance from the EU countries to bully Icelanders into agreeing to the terms of the British and Dutch governments.

The president added that two of the world’s main financial newspapers, Wall Street Journal and Financial Times, were able to see through the actions of the British and Dutch governments and supported Iceland’s cause the entire time. Therefore he asks why the EU did not.

Grímsson went on to harshly criticize the Icelandic government for having given in to the demands of the British and Dutch governments, to which Left-Green MP Álfheidur Ingadóttir replied that as the president is obviously aching to take the reins himself, he should run for parliament.

“I just saw Ólafur Ragnar, the chairman of a political party, in these words and can see that he misses being on that stage and so he should just come out of the closet and start preparing his candidacy,” Ingadóttir told Morgunbladid.

In Iceland, the president is supposed to be a non-political ceremonial leader while the government and parliament take care of political matters. However, he has the right to veto legislations and send them to national referendums as Grímsson did twice in the case of Icesave.

Grímsson has a long background in politics, serving as MP from 1978-1983 and again in 1991-1996, chairman of the People’s Alliance executive committee 1983-1987 and Minister of Finance from 1988-1991.

After the last Icesave legislation on a state guarantee on the Icesave debt was rejected in a referendum in April, the dispute is now in the process of being heard before the EFTA Court.

Minister of Economic Affairs Árni Páll Árnason will meet the representative of the EFTA Surveillance Authority (ESA) this week to discuss if the court case can be postponed until it is clear whether the Landsbanki estate can cover the Icesave debt.

According to the latest news, that is the case. The estimated reclamation of the Landsbanki bankruptcy estate is ISK 13 billion in excess of priority claims to the estate, the majority of which are the Icesave claims, reports.

Priority claims to the bank’s estate amount to ISK 1319 billion (USD 11.4 billion, EUR 8.1 billion), while the latest estimated reclamation figures—which increased in Q2 because of a higher evaluation of Landsbanki’s assets—are ISK 1332 billion (USD 11.5 billion, EUR 8.2 billion).

However, stated that it is uncertain whether this will lead to a favorable solution to the Icesave dispute for Iceland; the British and Dutch governments might decide to sue the Icelandic state for damages if they should win the case before the EFTA Court.

“The ESA has maintained that the Icelandic government should have paid all the depositors in October 2009. Not doing that was a violation of the EEA agreement,” said Jóhannes Karl Sveinsson, a Supreme Court lawyer who had a seat on the Icelandic Icesave negotiation committee.

Click here to read more about Icesave.


Sign up for our weekly newsletter

Get news from Iceland, photos, and in-depth stories delivered to your inbox every week!

* indicates required

Subscribe to Iceland Review

In-depth stories and high-quality photography showcasing life in Iceland!

Share article