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 Condemns Annexation of Ukrainian Territories

Ministry for Foreign Affairs

The Ministry of Foreign Affairs met with the Russian ambassador yesterday to condemn Russia’s attempt to annex four Ukrainian provinces, RÚV reports. The Icelandic government will not recognise the absorption of the provinces by Russia.

Staged referendums

Last Friday, Vladimir Putin declared the absorption of four Ukrainian regions – Luhansk, Donetsk, Kherson and Zaporizhzhia – after results from referendums “showed” that more than 95% of voters wanted to join Russia. “An absurd level of support,” a journalist from the Washington Post writes. Many western countries have condemned the referenda as fake and have refused to recognize Russia’s claim to the provinces.

The Icelandic government has echoed this position, according to a Tweet from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs yesterday; Martin Eyjólfsson, Permanent Secretary of State, met with Russian ambassador Mikhail Noskov to express Iceland’s strong disapproval of Russia’s annexation. Minister of Foreign Affairs Þórdís Kolbrún Reykfjörð Gylfadóttir was not present.

 

 

Iceland Joins UK-led Joint Expeditionary Forces

Last week, Iceland joined the UK-led Joint Expeditionary Forces to strengthen defence and security cooperation with the UK and other like-minded nations in Northern Europe. Iceland is the JEF’s 10th member, alongside other Nordic nations, the Netherlands, and the Baltic countries. Iceland’s ambassador in London Sturla Sigurjónsson and UK Defence Secretary Ben Wallace signed a Note of Joining last April 20.

“Iceland has noticed the global shift in defence matters in the past few years, characterised by increased instability, uncertainty and tension,” the Ministry for Foreign Affairs’ reply to Fréttablaðið stated.  “Under such conditions, a powerful multi-national cooperation in safety and defence issues, is especially important, especially cooperating with our closest allies,” the answer further stated. A government press release states that the JEF participation will “improve oversight over status and development in defence matters in Iceland’s immediate surroundings. The cooperation could be useful for emergency response, civil protection and humanitarian aid. The cooperation isn’t expected to incur any costs save for a civilian expert who will work with the JEF in the future.”

According to the UK’s Ministry of Defence, the JEF is “a UK-led coalition of ten countries who share a commitment to democracy, human rights and the rule of law as well as a long history of operating together.” It focuses on the north and is intended to be an addition to NATO’s operations in the region. Unlike NATO, the JEF handles smaller, clearly defined operations. Fréttablaðið reports that the Baltic countries have shown increased interest in defence cooperation in recent years due to Russia’s actions in Ukraine. According to the Foreign Affairs Ministry, the JEF cooperation isn’t directed against any particular states but rather based on common defence interests of like-minded states. “Under conditions such as now in defence and security matters, the JEF is a much-appreciated addition to the cooperation already in place, based around Iceland’s participation in NATO. Iceland’s participation in the JEF will be civilian just like all other international defence cooperation.”

The UK’s Ministry of Defence stated that Iceland’s entry into the JEF reflects a “growing bilateral relationship with the UK on defence and security issues” and that the two nations shared security concerns. They noted that In 2019 the RAF patrolled over Iceland for the first time since the Second World War as part of the NATO Icelandic Air Policing mission. During World War II, Iceland was occupied by the UK and the latter half of the 20th century saw a series of skirmishes with the British Navy over fishing rights, known as the Cod Wars, during which Iceland repeatedly threaten to leave NATO.