Icelandic Experts to Assist in Turkey Earthquake Response

TF-SIF

The Icelandic Association for Search, Rescue, and Injury Prevention (ICE-SAR) will send a group of experts to Turkey to assist in response to the earthquakes that occurred in the country yesterday morning. Together with the Ministry for Foreign Affairs, ICE-SAR began preparing a group of nine people for the trip, who will be transported using the Icelandic Coast Guard’s TF-SIF plane this afternoon.

The team consists of experts in operations management and coordination, currently much needed in Turkey. As of the time of writing, some 80 international teams have announced their assistance in the disaster area. The leader of the Icelandic team is Sólveig Þorvaldsdóttir, who is experienced in managing and coordinating similar international operations.

Two earthquakes over M7 hit Turkey and affected several other countries yesterday morning. As of the time of writing, the death toll has topped 5,100 people. Syria has also been heavily affected by the quake, and other affected countries include Cyprus, Jordan, Lebanon, Iraq, Georgia, and Armenia.

ICE-SAR wished the team good luck in the challenging conditions that await them.

International Co-operation on Human Rights in Crisis, Says Icelandic Director of European Institute

Ingibjörg Sólrún Gísladóttir

Icelander Ingibjörg Sólrún Gísladóttir will not continue as Director of the OSCE Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights after representatives from Azerbaijan, Tajikistan, and Turkey opposed extending her appointment, RÚV reports. Iceland’s Minister for Foreign Affairs called the decision an attack on the organisation and a cause for concern. Ingibjörg says the incident shows there is no longer international agreement on basic values within human rights.

Ingibjörg Sólrún Gísladóttir has served as the Director of the OSCE Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights since 2017. Before that, she enjoyed a long career in Icelandic politics. She was mayor of Reykjavík between 1994-2003, leader of the Social Democratic Alliance from 2005-2009, and Iceland’s Minister for Foreign Affairs from 2007 to 2009.

Troublesome Period for International Affairs

“I regret this decision and it is a cause for concern,” stated Iceland’s Minister for Foreign Affairs Guðlaugur Þór Þórðarsson. “Of course, this is nothing else than an attack on the organisation. Concerning our representatives, I, together with the vast majority of member states, am of the opinion that [Ingibjörg] has carried out her work with honesty and professionalism and in accordance with her mandate.”

Guðlaugur stated it was troubling that so few countries could upset the institution’s work in such a major way. “They are very few countries that have acted in this way. But it’s enough, because there has to be consensus on these matters. We are of course seeing now that these are troublesome times in international affairs and this is perhaps a manifestation of that.”

Reflection of Crisis Among International Organisations

“This did not come as a complete surprise to me,” Ingibjörg told RÚV when interviewed about her departure from the position. “I think it reflects the current crisis international organisations are in and the current shortage of truth. When the OSCE was founded in the early 1990s, everyone was very optimistic and there was agreement on certain basic principles in democracy and human rights issues. That’s not the case anymore. And this is a manifestation of that. And a manifestation of the fact that those who want to advance slowest in these areas, they have gotten the upper hand.”

One point of contention between Ingibjörg and Turkey’s representatives is their opposition to allowing certain NGOs to attend OSCE meetings. The representatives have gone so far as to call the NGOs terrorist organisations. “I cannot, on my own initiative, designate any organisation or call it a terrorist organisation just like that, that isn’t on any such lists. And there is no support for it either from other OSCE member states,” Ingibjörg stated.

Year in Review 2019: Most Entertaining

sheep on the road Iceland

Now that we’ve covered some of the heavy hitter news articles this year, it’s time for a different tune. There’s always some news which are just too weird, too random, or even mind-boggling, for us to not mention them in the Year in Review. Last year we witnessed NATO troops drinking Reykjavík dry as 7,000 thirsty troops descended upon the capital. “They were hardworking, the dear boys,” a brewery employee remarked when asked about the military invasion. This year, there’s a lot to look at. Without further ado, here’s the year’s most entertaining news.

Oldest McDonald’s Burger in the World?

In 2009, Hjörtur Smárason purchased the last McDonald’s burger sold in Iceland before the fast-food restaurant ceased operations in the country for good. One decade later, the burger, and its accompanying fries, still look as good as new. The order is currently being displayed at a guesthouse in South Iceland, which provides a live stream of the peculiar exhibit. “I had heard something about McDonald’s never decaying, so I just wanted to find out for myself whether this was true or not,” Hjörtur explained. Hjörtur gifted the burger to the National Museum of Iceland, who sought advice from a Danish specialist on how to preserve the item. The specialist deemed the task impossible – though Hjörtur pointed out it seemed to be doing just fine. “I think he was wrong because this hamburger preserves itself.” Hjörtur eventually reached out to friends who run Snotra House in Þykkvibær, South Iceland, and the burger and fries are now on display in the lounge of the guesthouse. Ten years since their purchase, neither seems to show any signs of decay. McDonald’s opened its doors in Iceland in 1993. In October 2009, the chain announced that it would be closing

Bright start

The year started out with two mini controversies that prove Icelanders have an opinion on everything. The mayor of Westfjords town Bolungarvík complained to Google Maps as satellite images of the town always show it covered in a blanket of snow. Apparently, it isn’t always like that! He got his wish in the end – just have a look for yourself. Bolungarvík hit the news again later as they intend to use piglets for weed control. You do you, Bolungarvík.

In other news – palm trees in Reykjavík? January saw an uproar for planned outdoor palm trees in a glass case which were due to be placed outside Reykjavík apartment complex. Maybe it isn’t the correct climate, as that same month a very rare occurrence happened on a capital-area golf course – picture-perfect snow rolls. Later that month, nude paintings on the walls of the Central Bank of Iceland were taken down due to employee complaints.

Cloning a dog and McAfee

August came and went, with scientists discovering an unidentified creature on Iceland’s ocean floor and the bra fence in Brekkukot continued to grow. Oh, and Parliament passed a bill which finally allowed Icelanders to play bingo on Sundays.

Things took a weird turn as former president Ólafur Ragnar Grímsson cloned his dog Sámur and named it Samson. Diligent Iceland Review readers will have known that although there’s a naming committee for humans, you can name animals whatever you want. Unless it’s a horse, of course. Then you must go through the Horse Naming Committee.

John McAfee, founder of McAfee Antivirus, was discovered to have been in hiding in Dalvík, North Iceland. The owner of the restaurant which he supposedly lived above didn’t spot him at least. Maybe McAfee knew that Icelanders don’t exactly love talking to strangers.

Iceland vs. Iceland

Iceland – the country – finally won a years-long legal battle against the supermarket chain of the same name, who had secured an EU-wide trademark for the word “Iceland” in 2014. Icelandic authorities sued to have the trademark invalidated on the basis of being far too broad and creating a monopoly that prevented Icelandic companies from registering their products with reference to their country of origin.

This year, the European Union Intellectual Property Office (EUIPO) closed the case, ruling in favour of the country, and invalidating the supermarket’s trademark entirely, noting that “It has been adequately shown that consumers in EU countries know that Iceland is a country in Europe and also that the country has historical and economic ties to EU countries, in addition to geographic proximity.”

Sports can be entertaining – right?

In June, a dishwashing brush and an airport wait strained the diplomatic relationship between Turkey and Iceland. A Belgian man stuck a dishwashing brush in star players’ Emre Belozoglu’s face like a microphone while he was being interviewed by reporters. This happened following an unusually long wait at the airport. The Turkish government issued a diplomatic note to Iceland denouncing what it is calling “disrespectful” and “violent” behaviour against the country’s men’s national football team. Iceland won 2-0, but Turkey has not lost a single match since then.

This July, the Icelandic Cricket Association (an association that, yes, does exist, and is doing quite well) went viral in India as it offered Indian cricket star Ambadi Rayudu to play in Iceland. The offer was not accepted. In November, a Moldovan female choir amazed Icelanders with their beautiful rendition of Iceland’s national anthem before a EURO 2020 qualifier in Moldova.

December delights

December saw contestants in the Great British Bake Off attempt to make Icelandic Christmas delight laufabrauð. Earlier that month, Hollywood felt threatened by a single star in the small town of Hafnarfjörður, as musician Björgvin Halldórsson had his star removed. The beginning of the month saw the Christmas Cat arrived in downtown Reykjavík. The Christmas Cat is a favourite Icelandic Christmas tradition – it will eat children who do not get clothes as Christmas present. Fun? Maybe not. Entertaining? Very much so.

Headline highlights

Iceland Review writers did their part to provide entertainment with some exquisite headlines. Dunkin Donuts’ arrival in Iceland was a failure, having arrived in 2015 and left in 2019. But we did get this headline: ‘Iceland Did Not Go Nuts for Dunkin Donuts’.

Another one to mention is an unfortunate event in Kenya when an airplane once owned by an Icelandic airline went off the runway. But we got the headline ‘Old Icelandic Fokker Skids Off Runway’.

Hope you enjoyed the most entertaining news of the year as much as we did! Happy New Year!

 

 

 

Men’s Football Team Takes on Turkey in Clutch Match

Iceland football team

The Men’s National Football Team will compete against Turkey this afternoon in a crucial match for the UEFA Euro 2020 qualifiers.

Two rounds are left of the Euro 2020 qualifiers. Turkey sits at the top of Group H with 19 points (level with France) and will advance to the UEFA European Championship if it manages a tie against Iceland. Iceland, on the other hand, is in third place with 15 points and must win the next two matches to advance (while also hoping that Turkey loses points against Andorra on Sunday).

In the event that Iceland loses against Turkey, the team may still qualify via play-offs next March. It remains unclear what teams will advance through to the play-off round. It will not be determined until after the qualifiers.

Iceland will play without team captain Aron Gunnarsson (Al-Arabi) and fellow midfielder Jóhann Berg Guðmundsson (Burnley), both of whom are injured. Turkey will be without forward Cenk Tosun (Everton) who is injured. Team captain, Emre Belözoğlu (Fenerbahçe), remains a doubt.

The match will begin at 17:00 and it will be played at the Türk Telekom Stadium in Istanbul (home stadium of Galtasaray S.K.). The match will be broadcast live on RÚV.

Iceland qualified for the UEFA European Championship for the first time in 2016. The team advanced through the group stages and secured a 2-1 victory against England in the round of 16. The lost 2-5 against France in the quarter-finals.

Turkey Denounces “Disrespectful” Treatment of Football Team at Airport

The Turkish government has issued a diplomatic note to Iceland denouncing what it is calling “disrespectful” and “violent” behaviour against the country’s men’s national football team, aa.com reports. The football team arrived in Keflavík airport on Sunday night in advance of their Euro 2020 qualifying match against Iceland on Tuesday. They claim that they were then subjected to excessive search and security measures at passport control and were held for around three hours before being allowed to leave the airport.

A representative from Isavia, the company that owns and manages the Keflavík airport, told RÚV that per international regulations, airport employees were obliged to conduct a security check on the team and that it was more intensive because the flight on which the team arrived departed from an airport that is not part of the One Stop Security area whose security protocols apply to all airports in the EEA. Isavia maintains that as such, all of the passengers on the flight were subjected to the same security checks – including Icelanders. Isavia also says that the security checks took an unusually long time on Sunday night because passengers were traveling with a high number of electronic devices and liquids in their luggage, all of which needed to be individually screened.

Isavia contests Turkey’s claims that players were held for three hours, however: they say that the security wait was 80 minutes from the time that the aircraft arrived. The flight arrived at 7.40pm, representatives say, and the last passenger went through customs at roughly 9.00pm.

Feelings are running particularly high in the wake of the event, with some players on the Icelandic squad and Icelandic sports journalists even receiving threats over the matter. It’s likely that tensions were exacerbated during an interview that Turkish midfielder Emre Belozoglu gave after going through security; an individual who has since been identified and is presumed to be a Belgian national stuck a dishwashing brush in the player’s face like a microphone while he was being interviewed by reporters.

Turkey and Iceland do not maintain embassies in each other’s countries, but Fazli Corman, Turkey’s ambassador in Norway, is apparently on his way to Iceland to follow up on the situation. Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu also posted about the incident on Twitter, saying “The treatment towards our national team at the Iceland airport is not acceptable in terms of both diplomatic and humanitarian practices.”