Iceland PM says happy about EU and positive on Icesave

johanna2Johanna Sigurdardottir, Prime Minister of Iceland believes that this week’s Icesave talks in London were more positive than at first reported.

She said that the meetings left room for optimism that a trilateral agreement will be reached soon – adding that the situation is serious and complicated and could still change. Reuters reports that talks will continue, although British and Dutch authorities are not enthusiastic to reopen formal negotiations.

The Prime Minister went on to tell RUV that the slow progress of the Icesave issue contrasts starkly with the European Union’s decision yesterday to begin accession talks with Iceland – which should finally prove that the two issues are not linked, she said.

Icelandic Foreign Minister Ossur Skarphedinsson and his Swedish counterpart, Carl Bildt met in Stockholm yesterday to discuss the Icesave issue in minute detail, RUV reports. They also discussed the status of Iceland’s IMF-led recovery package and the country’s EU application.

Meanwhile Sigbjorn Johnsen, the Norwegian Finance Minister told his country’s parliament that there is no question that Iceland is responsible for insuring deposits within Icesave and that the country was legally responsible for the behaviour of its bank branches in other EU/EEA countries.

He told parliamentarians that there is little argument over either of these facts in any country, and continued that Norwegian loans to Iceland are not contingent on a resolution to the Icesave issue, but said that Norwegian loans are part of a wider IMF/Nordic package. His comments came in response to pleas from three opposition MPs to pay out loans to Iceland immediately.

Johnsen also said in his long, pre-prepared response that Iceland’s current situation is not as bad has initially feared – with lower unemployment than both Sweden and Finland, higher than expected export revenues and relatively stable industry. Government debt is very high though, he conceded.

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