Request Explanation of Weapons Purchased for Council of Europe Summit

The institute responsible for overseeing state purchases in Iceland wants the Police Commissioner to tally and justify the purchase of weapons and equipment for the Council of Europe Summit held in Iceland last month. Icelandic police spent ISK 185 million [$1.3 million, €1.2 million] from the state treasury on weapons for the summit and an additional ISK 151 million [$1.1 million, €1 million] on equipment such as helmets and vests. Morgunblaðið reported first.

Read More: Armed Police and Snipers in Reykjavík for Council of Europe Summit

Central Public Procurement (Ríkiskaup), the institution responsible for handling the purchasing of supplies and service for state institutions has asked the Police Commissioner to submit a formal report on the purchases of weapons and equipment made for the European Council Summit to the Publications Office of the European Union and justify the purchases and how they were made.

A press release from police states that the total cost of the summit will be published before the end of July, including salary costs of 650 Icelandic police officers, 96 foreign police officers, and 120 other staff members of police who took part in the event. Salary costs for the event have already been estimated at ISK 1.4 billion [$10.3 million, €9.3 million]. Despite requests, police have not made public the number of weapons that were purchased for the summit, but underlined in the press release that the weapons purchased were mostly Glock pistols and MP5 submachine guns, “not machine guns.”

The security around the summit, which took place on May 16 and 17 in Reykjavík’s Harpa Concert Hall and Conference Centre, was unlike anything ever before seen in Iceland. Large parts of the city centre were blocked off to the public and to motor vehicles and roads were closed temporarily for police-escorted heads of state travelling to and from the event.

Read More: A Matter of State

The press release from police emphasises the short period of time the institution had to prepare for the event and the relatively long time required to commission and deliver equipment to Iceland, implying that decisions on purchases needed to be made rapidly. Minister of Justice Jón Gunnarsson has stated that police will keep the weapons and equipment purchased for the event.

Ukrainian War-Damages Registry Approved at Reykjavík Summit

Reykjavík Summit 2023

During the Reykjavík Summit of the Council of Europe this morning, European leaders signed an agreement to establish a “Register of Damage” for the war in Ukraine. PM Katrín Jakobsdóttir has stated that it is important that Russia is held to account for its war of aggression in Ukraine, Mbl.is reports.

43 countries already signed the agreement

This morning, European leaders approved a so-called “Register of Damage” at the Reykjavík Summit of the European Council. As noted by Mbl.is, it is assumed that the registry, designed to hold Moscow to account, will be operational for three years, recording data and claims due to damages and losses incurred by the Russian invasion of Ukraine.

Mbl.is reports that a total of 43 countries, alongside the European Union, have already signed, or announced their intention to sign, an agreement to the establishment of the registry. Several countries have, however, dropped out: among them Turkey and Hungary – both of whom are members of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO). Armenia, Azerbaijan, Serbia, and Bosnia have announced plans to refrain from signing the agreement.

Marija Pejčinović Burić, Secretary General of the European Council, was quoted by Deutsche Welle (DW) as stating that the creation of the registry was “a first, necessary, urgent step” ensuring “justice that is centred on the victims” of the war.

Prime Minister Katrín Jakobsdóttir stated that support and solidarity with Ukraine had been a priority during Iceland’s presidency of the Council of Europe and that it was important that the outcome of the summit in Reykjavík was that Russia was held responsible for its attack in Ukraine in a broad way. The Council of Europe should play an important role in this regard.

Mark Rutte, the Prime Minister of the Netherlands, was also present at the signing of the agreement; the Council of Europe’s Register of Damage will be based in the Hague and will also operate a branch in Ukraine.

Ukrainian Prime Minister Denys Shmyhal welcomed the registry: “We are grateful to the Council of Europe and all the participating countries for providing such support from the highest level of government. We invite other countries from all over the world to join the registry to express their support for the importance of Russian responsibility for its war against Ukraine,” Mbl.is notes.

As noted by DW, the United States, who attended the summit as an observer; Canada; and Japan have also voiced their support for the creation of the register.

PM Katrín Jakobsdóttir to Meet Zelenskyy Today

katrín jakobsdóttir ukraine zelenskyy

Katrín Jakobsdóttir, Prime Minister of Iceland, is set to meet Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy and other Ukrainian officials today, March 14.

With the European Council set to meet in Reykjavík this May, Katrín has previously stated that it’s key for Icelandic leaders to meet with Ukrainian officials, given the central role the Ukrainian conflict will play in the summit.

Prime Minister’s Office Iceland

Katrín and other Icelandic officials were shown some of the signs of the conflict this morning and will meet with Zelenskyy in the afternoon. Katrín and her entourage were also seen laying commemorative wreaths for the victims of the war.

The Prime Minister stated to Morgunblaðið: “We were first shown ruins in Borodianka, apartment buildings that have been blown up, and then we went to talk to some of the residents. Then the road led to Bucha, where newspaper photographs of the mass graves found there are on display. There, we met the mayor Anatolij Fedorúk, who explained the situation to us […] It’s a completely different thing to see this yourself and meet these people, who have been through this horror.”

Bucha, a suburb of Kyiv, was the site of a civilian massacre by Russian troops during the initial invasion in 2022. In April of last year, photographs emerged in the press that indicated that some 400-500 civilians had been summarily executed by Russian forces. The massacre at Bucha has been identified as a likely war crime in the conflict.

katrín jakobsdóttir ukraine zelenskyy
Prime Minister’s Office Iceland

Now, Katrín is on her way to meet directly with Zelenskyy. Among her retinue is also Foreign Minister  Þórdís Kolbrún Reykfjörð Gylfadóttir.

A major item on the agenda will be Zelenskyy’s participation in the upcoming meeting of the European Council. Although his participation is confirmed, it is not clear yet whether he will be attending remotely, or whether he will come to Iceland for the summit.

Katrín stated further: “We will be reviewing the upcoming meeting in May, as Ukraine will be the focus there. The involvement of the European Council will potentially comprise of assessing damages, possible compensation for Ukraine, and so on.”