The President: Icelandic Public Should not pay Icesave-bill Skip to content

The President: Icelandic Public Should not pay Icesave-bill

President Ólafur Ragnar Grímsson said in an interview with Global Times in China that the Icelandic public should not pay the bill for the Icesave-accounts of the now defunct Landsbanki. He thinks those who deposited their money in the accounts can blame themselves:

“People who deposit their money with a private bank must realize that it is a private bank. It’s not a state bank. And the European regulations for private banks are based on the basic rule that there is no state guarantee,” according to the interview.

President Ólafur Ragnar Grímsson. Photo: Páll Kjartansson/Iceland Review

Preident Grímsson also says that when the banks are doing well the profits only go to the owners and management of the bank:

“It is unfair that the general public in Iceland, people who live in villages, farming areas or fishing villages, teachers, nurses, doctors or factory workers to pay those bills if the banks fail. These people did not profit from the banks. This is not s sensible system.”

The President who vetoed a bill in January on paying the Icesave-bill, did sign into law a previous bill in September 2009 in which Iceland agreed to pay the Icesave-bill with certain limitations. The British and Dutch governments did not accept the terms in this law. The vetoed law was voted down in March 2010 with 98% of those who took a stand.

Aside from the veto power the President of Iceland is primarily a figurehead and President Grímsson’s predecessors tried to stay out of politics.

Negotiations started again late this summer between the Icelandic, Dutch and British governments, but have not produced any results yet. According to reports from those meetings the Dutch and British governments did not back away form their demands that the Icelandic public should pay the full bill.

On relations with China the president expressed appreciation for the goodwill and friendship that the leadership of China has shown to Iceland during the difficulties. “I was in communication with Chinese President Hu Jintao in the first month of the financial crisis. And this has resulted in a bilateral currency-swap agreement between the central banks of China and Iceland, as well as an agreement on energy cooperation,” he said.

On the EU negotiations the president said:

“The attitudes of the people of Iceland and the final decision whether to join the EU will be dependent very much on what comes out of the negotiations. It’s difficult at this point to tell what can actually be the outcome.”

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