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Inspired by Iceland

A Conversation With Olafur Ragnar Grimsson

19/12/2013 | By | Reply More

Olafur Ragnar Grimsson, President of Iceland since 1996, has studied and survived shifts of fortune. He spoke with Foreign Affairs senior editor Stuart Reid outside Reykjavik last October


The British government and Gordon Brown used antiterrorism legislation to freeze the assets of an Icelandic bank. ” I’d go so far as to call it financial terrorism. Everybody believed him. Nobody believed us. The British government put us together with al Qaeda and the Taliban” says Mr. Grimsson.

In January/February 2014 issue of the U.S. journal Foreign Affairs will be published detailed interview with the President of Iceland, Mr. Olafur Ragnar Grimsson. The journal Foreign Affairs is one of the main discussion forum for serious discussion of American foreign policy and global affairs in the United States.

The interview discusses the situation in Iceland now 5 years later which the nation has recovered mostly, even there are still problems and the future of Arctic, the financial crisis for Iceland and the lessons of hard actions which Icelanders went through, what the Government of Gordon Brown in United Kingdom made to Icelanders in October 2008, WikiLeaks and the impact of the information revolution on politics and society, the interaction of markets and democracy, rights for homosexuals and innovation in Iceland.


Bessastaðir is today the official residence of the President of Iceland.

Asked, when the President was aware of the financial crisis in 2008, Mr. Grimsson replied; “It was a process of a number of days or a few weeks when it all came down”.

When the first bank was coming down, we didn’t realize the other banks would go down, as well. Gordon Brown went on global television and announced Iceland were a bankrupt country, which was utter nonsense, an outrageous statement. I’d go so far as to call it financial terrorism. Everybody believed him. Nobody believed us. The British government put us together with al Qaeda and the Taliban

The British used antiterrorism legislation to freeze the assets of an Icelandic bank against Iceland in 2008.

I mean, Iceland as a founding member of NATO and a strong ally of Britain, a country without any armed forces whatsoever — we would be the last country to be put on such a list. But this meant that all business connections for Icelandic companies were closed down all over the world. Gordon Brown would never have dared to wage financial war against France or Germany or any other bigger country. It was kind of a Falklands moment for him, and he hoped he would be popular like Thatcher became after the Falklands War“.

When Icelanders tried to engage America, our long-standing ally, they said,

Sorry, guys, we are simply too preoccupied with other things”.

We were left alone“.

With every Western door closed to us, we turned to the Chinese, which then led to currency swaps between the Central Bank of Iceland and the central bank of China“.

Iceland has gone through a difficult period since the collapse of the banks and are working to rebuild the Icelandic economy.

We recovered much better than anybody could have expected and predicted. There are still problems. People are still suffering. But unemployment is about five percent. Economic growth is one percent to two percent. Paradoxically, the tourism sector, the energy sector, the fishing sector, and the IT sector are doing much better than they were before“.

Watch video – The photo on video is from Reykjavik, the capital of Iceland.


You can read the interview with Mr. Grimsson in its entirety from here.

Please view the conversation between the President of the Republic of Iceland and CNN’s Ali Velshi at the 2011 Blouin Creative Leadership Summit –  Courtesy: CNN



Category: Iceland

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