FOI, the Swedish Defence Research Agency, concludes in a 30-page report of Iceland’s strategic position published last week that the country is going through three crises simultaneously: an economic, political and defense policy crisis.
The former US military base in Keflavík. Photo by Páll Stefánsson.
The report points out that after 65 years of military presence the US withdrew its forces from Iceland in 2006, which drastically changed the defense and security policy in Iceland.
The country is a member of NATO but doesn’t have an army, albeit an efficient coast guard. The report says that while NATO member states are strengthening their collaboration on military drills in Nordic regions, Iceland’s position as an army-less NATO member state remains to be redefined, Fréttabladid reports.
People were divided in their opinions of the military base’s closure; some were bitter about the decision, others celebrated it. Since 2006 there has been increased military activity in and around Iceland, such as Russian strategic flights close to the Icelandic airspace, which creates uncertainty about Russian motives, the report states.
The Swedish experts, who interviewed a number of specialists, consultants and government representatives while compiling the report, conclude that much of the political energy is devoted to fighting the economic crisis and meanwhile the work in analyzing and coping with changes in defense and security issues is delayed.
Political instability, disagreement and distrust is evident both among officials and the general public and unlike in other Nordic countries, politicians are not as eager to reach a conclusion on matters of dispute, which makes it more difficult to find wide-reaching long-term solutions, the report concludes.
In its report on the story, ruv.is was neither able to reach Icelandic Foreign Minister Össur Skarphédinsson nor his assistant for comment.
Iceland has made defense agreements with several countries but the Defense Agency established after the US military base was closed in 2006 was shut down due to cutbacks after the banking collapse in 2008.
Click here to read more about the Defense Agency.