Published March 31, 2011
Ten people promising to invest millions in Iceland’s renewable energy field have applied for citizenship directly with parliament. The reaction from within parliament has been one of both bewilderment and suspicion.
The ten individuals are apparently from outside the Schengen area. By Icelandic law, this would normally mean they would need to live here, work, not leave the country for more than six months at a time and remain a resident of Iceland for seven years before they could even qualify for citizenship. However, Iceland has made exceptions in the past for those applying directly to parliament – most notably with certain athletes and Bobby Fischer.
These ten individuals, however, have said that they intend to invest millions in the country if they are granted citizenship, Eyjan reports. Róbert Marshall, chairman of the parliamentary general committee – which handles citizenship requests – told Kastljósið that while he would not comment on these specific applications, he does believe that the government should examine whether or not the promise of citizenship could be used to attract professionals and investors.
Minister of the Interior Ögmundur Jónasson, however, quite bluntly told RÚV that “citizenship is not for sale”, adding, “It is my opinion that Icelanders should tread carefully when old Mammon is about.”
There is in fact apparently an entire philosophy around why these ten are trying to entice the government with cash in order to get citizenship. The lawyer representing the group, David Lesperance, has a website outlining this philosophy. In one article, he writes in part, “Many countries having a heavy reliance on a tiny percentage of its members for funding, job creation and creative capital. Therefore, it is reasonable to assume that that there will be a major restructuring amongst Nation States and other forms of Collectives in the early part of the 21st century as these Golden Geese reconfigure their relationships with these entities. Will Nation States recognize the need for a new deal with their Golden Geese before their departure causes that Nation State to join many other collectives in the dustbin of history?”
For her part, Prime Minister Jóhanna Sigurðardóttir says she has worries and suspicions about the applicants. Their cases are currently at the parliamentary general committee pending review.