NORTH ATLANTIC STUDIES

Theme night on the financial crisis in Iceland

The theme night on Iceland’s financial crisis proved quite a success for Iceland’s embassy and its new ambassador, Gunnar Snorri Gunnarson who (unofficially as he had not presented his credentials to the German state yet) staged his first event at the Embassy in Berlin. The documentary about life in Iceland in the aftermath of the financial crisis was very well done. Particularly worth mentioning is that the film’s author, Christhard Läpple, succeeded in interviewing former Reykjavík mayor, former Foreign Minister of Iceland and former political star of the Social Democratic Alliance (Samfylkingin), Ingibjörg Sólrún Gísladóttir, for the first time after the latter had stepped back from her political career in the course of the “kitchen ware revolution” (búsáhaldabylting) due to severe illness.

The following public debate was dominated by the uncertain economic prospects for Iceland. This is hardly surprising as Iceland’s president, Ólafur Ragnar Grímsson, has refused to sign a bill which would commit Iceland to pay back all investors who had lost money in the banking scheme “Icesave” of the private Icelandic bank Landsbanki.

It’s the modalities, Christhard Läpple!

Unfortunately, quite to my disappointment, a comment of Christhard Läpple made it once again obvious that the understanding of the Icesave matter can at best be called limited outside of Iceland. It is quite symptomatic of the general misunderstanding of the Icesave matter that even a film-maker who went to Iceland to spend time with its citizens and gain a first-hand experience of the troubles referred to the upcoming referendum on the Icesave bill as a decision about “whether Iceland is going to pay its debts or not”. To make it clear once and for all, the referendum about the Icesave debt repayment bill is not about paying back or not! The question is about the modalities of payment. To shed a little more light on a complicated matter, I include a short review in this post of what Icesave really is about:

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