Russian Foreign Ministry Responds to Iceland’s Embassy Closure

Jakobsdóttir and Lavrov

Iceland’s decision to suspend operations in its Moscow embassy “destroys” the countries’ bilateral operations, Russia’s Foreign Ministry has stated according to Reuters. Iceland’s Ministry for Foreign Affairs announced last week that it would shut down the embassy of Iceland in Moscow on August 1 and had requested the Russian embassy in Iceland to scale down its operations and send home its ambassador. Icelandic authorities will lay off the embassy’s locally hired staff and terminate rental contracts in Moscow.

“The decision taken by the Icelandic authorities to lower the level of diplomatic relations with Russia destroys the entire range of Russian-Icelandic cooperation,” the Russian Foreign Ministry stated. “We will take this unfriendly decision into account when building our ties with Iceland in the future. All anti-Russian actions of Reykjavik will inevitably be followed by a corresponding reaction.”

The Icelandic embassy in Moscow has had seven staff members: two sent out from Iceland and five who were hired locally. Iceland’s Ministry for Foreign Affairs told Vísir that the five locally hired staff members will be laid off according to their current employment contracts. Iceland’s Ambassador to Russia Árni Þór Sigurðsson will be relocated to the Icelandic embassy in Copenhagen. The ministry also expects to terminate its rental contracts both for the embassy offices and the ambassador’s residence.

A press release from Iceland’s Ministry for Foreign Affairs stated that “[t]he decision to close down the embassy’s activities does not imply the termination of the diplomatic relationship between the countries. As soon as conditions permit, emphasis will be placed on resuming the activities of the Icelandic embassy in Moscow.”

Suspicious Package Reported at US Embassy

us embassy reykjavík

A staff member of the US Embassy in Reykjavík was sent to the hospital yesterday for examination after handling a suspicious package. The staff member in question was not harmed, but was sent to the hospital to ensure they had not come into contact with any hazardous materials.

The incident occurred around 14:00 yesterday, January 4.

According to a police report, capital area police, a hazardous materials unit from the fire department, and a special police unit were all dispatched to the scene after the package was reported.

Engjavegur, the road by the American Embassy, was closed while Icelandic authorities responded. It has since been reopened.

Reports also indicate that the suspicious package has since been removed. Authorities are investigating the contents of the suspicious package.

Kristinn Gilsdorf, press officer for the American embassy, stated that an incident occurred outside the embassy, leading to the decision to call Icelandic authorities.

During the course of the investigation, the American embassy was closed down. Some 60 staff work in the building. Kristinn Gilsdorf stressed that all remained calm during the incident, and that embassy workers are working with Icelandic authorities.

The embassy has reopened.

Update: According to an initial analysis by the University of Iceland, the contents of the package are stated to have been harmless.





Iceland Opens Embassy in Poland

minister of foreign affairs iceland

Foreign Minister Þórdís Kolbrún Reykfjörð Gylfadóttir is in Warsaw today for the opening of Iceland’s embassy there.

In a statement to Morgunblaðið, the minster said: “”The deep respect and friendship that exist between Iceland and Poland is of great value to Iceland, and it is with pride that I take part in opening our embassy in Warsaw on the day of Icelandic Sovereignty.”

In her statement, she also pointed out that Poland has had an embassy in Iceland since 2013, and that some 20,000 Polish citizens reside in Iceland, accounting for 40% of all immigrants in Iceland.

Read more: Iceland to Open Embassy in Warsaw this Autumn

The minister also stated:

“Today the Icelandic embassy in Warsaw will be opened, on the day Icelanders celebrate their sovereignty in 1918. Around the same time, at the end of 1918, an independent and sovereign Poland was rising from the ruins of the First World War. Iceland recognized the Republic of Poland in January 1922 – exactly a century ago – and diplomatic relations officially began in 1946.

Since the end of the Second World War, the relations between the countries have been strong and growing in many areas. The most important thing in my mind is that a large number of people from Poland and of Polish origin have enriched Icelandic society by settling here for a longer or shorter period of time. […]

Poland has had an embassy in Iceland since 2013, and our relations on many joint platforms are exemplary. However, it is not just to maintain reciprocal relations I made the decision to open an embassy in Warsaw, but I recognize the fact that Poland is one of the leading countries in Europe in cultural, political, scientific and economic terms.”

Read more about Iceland’s Polish community here.


Iceland to Open Embassy in Warsaw This Autumn

An Icelandic embassy to Poland will be opened in the country’s capital Warsaw this autumn, Iceland’s Foreign Minister announced at a cabinet meeting last week. The embassy will also be responsible for servicing Lithuania, Ukraine, and Belarus. Polish nationals account for around 40% of all immigrants living in Iceland.

“Political, economic, and cultural relations between Iceland and Poland have increased significantly in recent years,” a government notice on the new embassy reads. “An ever-increasing number of Icelanders trace their origins to Poland. The countries’ interests converge on important issues, such as security and defence. Increased communication between the two countries, not least due to the large number of Poles living in Iceland, has strengthened trade and cultural ties.”

The Polish government has operated a consulate in Iceland since 2008, which became a full-fledged embassy in 2013. “With the opening of the Icelandic Embassy in Warsaw, the necessary reciprocity in the political union of the states will finally be achieved, and it is gratifying to be able to take that step and emphasise how valuable the nations’ friendship is to us Icelanders,” Foreign Minister Þórdís Kolbrún Reykfjörð Gylfadóttir stated. “The Polish Embassy in Reykjavík has provided important services to the large group of Poles living in Iceland. In the same way, the Icelandic Embassy in Warsaw can provide services to Icelandic citizens and Poles with close ties to Iceland, and at the same time pave the way for Icelandic companies in these regions and safeguard Icelandic interests, for example in the EEA Development Fund.”

Read more about Iceland’s Polish community here.