Iceland President Cancels Ukraine Trip

President of Iceland Guðni Th. Jóhannesson.

President of Iceland Guðni Th. Jóhannesson cancelled a visit to Ukraine over safety concerns. The trip was scheduled for Easter Sunday, reports.

Security concerns

Among the events scheduled for President Guðni’s visit were a meeting with Volodymyr Zelenskyy, president of Ukraine, followed by a ceremony for the two year anniversary of the Bucha massacre when Russian troops invaded the city. The president was to attend a conference following the ceremony.

Due to security concerns, the Ukrainian government cancelled the event. In the last few days, Russian troops have increased the number of missile and drone strikes, affecting energy infrastructure.

Presidential election coming up

President Guðni is enjoying his last few months in office, with a presidential election set for June 1. In his New Year’s Day address on January 1, he announced that he would not run again after two terms in office, totalling eight years.

Among the candidates are Baldur Þórhallsson, professor of political science, and Halla Tómasdóttir, CEO of B Team, while comedian Jón Gnarr is expected to announce today whether or not he will run. Among other rumoured candidates is Prime Minister Katrín Jakobsdóttir.

“Góðan dag, this is Volodymyr from Kyiv”

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy spoke directly to the Icelandic Parliament and nation today in a virtual address broadcast in the chamber of Alþingi. In his speech, Zelenskyy underlined the centuries-old ties between the two countries and urged Iceland to continue supporting Ukraine in the ongoing conflict, saying that “the size of a country is of no importance when fighting for democracy.”

Started speech in Icelandic

Before Zelenskyy took the floor, President of Iceland Guðni Th. Jóhannesson addressed the Ukrainian President in English, commending the Ukrainian nation’s strength. He added that Iceland and Ukraine share values and that Ukrainian refugees are welcome in Iceland, even adding a few sentences in Ukrainian.

Zelenskyy, in turn, began his speech with a few words in Icelandic, saying “Hello, this is Volodymyr from Kyiv.” He emphasised the ancient ties between Iceland and Ukraine: Scandinavians settled the area that is now Ukraine as early as the 8th century. He thanked Iceland for taking part in sanctions against Russia and encouraged the country to continue to put pressure on Russia. The Ukrainian President stated that Icelanders’ expertise in energy could come to good use in rebuilding Ukraine after the war is over.

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy

A few dozen Ukrainians and supporters of Ukraine were gathered outside the Parliament building while the event took place, brandishing Ukrainian flags.

Prime Minister mentions women and children

Katrín Jakobsdóttir, Iceland’s Prime Minister, took the floor following Zelenskyy’s address. She condemned Russia’s threats to use nuclear weapons, saying that military action should be resisted and assuring Zelenskyy that the Icelandic government would do everything in its power to help the Ukrainian people. She stated that Iceland wanted in particular to provide special protection for women and children who were survivors of sexual violence due to the conflict. The Prime Minister ended her address by asking those present to rise for a moment of silence on behalf of the Ukrainian nation.

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy