The duty of the President is to speak up for the benefit of the Icelandic nation. So says President Olafur Ragnar Grimsson, defending himself once more over allegations that he overstepped the mark when talking to the international press.
In an interview this week with Bloomberg, the president expressed misgivings about Iceland’s potential entry into the European Union, at the same time as passing comment on Icesave. The President of the Republic of Iceland is ostensibly a non-political role, sometimes likened to an elected constitutional monarch.
“What sort of a club is this European Union? This is the question Icelanders are asking themselves after the experience over the last couple of years with the British and Dutch,” the President asked Bloomberg.
Grimsson told RUV that he had said little new that he had not already said to foreign reporters in his 20-minute interview with Bloomberg; but that the respected business journal had chosen to concentrate on one small part of it and sensationalise it.
The President explained that he had been trying to describe the various attitudes to the EU in Iceland today. He said he cannot predict what effect his recent comments may have with regard to the ongoing Icesave issue with the Netherlands and the UK – but added that since he vetoed the last Icesave law and sent it to referendum, it seems as though the British and Dutch sides have changed their stance on the issue, softened their demands and are slowly heading towards a fairer trilateral agreement, RUV reports.
The power to reject a new law and send it to a national referendum is the only political power the president has. No president had ever used the power before President Grimsson, who has vetoed laws on two occasions.