A Grapevine service announcement Be patient: That eruption is expected to last until 2015

Understanding The Icesave Ruling

Published January 28, 2013

Iceland won in EFTA court, and the reaction here has been decidedly jubilant.
As reported earlier today, the court of the European Free Trade Association (EFTA) ruled in Iceland’s favour over the Icesave dispute, saying that Iceland did not violate the Deposit Guarantee Directive. This directive is an international agreement which ensures that any depositor, regardless of their nationality, has the right to have at least 20,000 euros of their account guaranteed for withdrawal from any bank within the organisation.
When Landsbanki – and with it, Icesave – collapsed in late 2008, the bank only allowed Icelandic depositors to withdraw their savings. British and Dutch depositors were denied access, so their respective governments covered the deposits for Landsbanki. And so began the Icesave negotiations. The matter made its way to EFTA court, and today, the court gave their reasoned opinion that “the Court dismissed the application [of charges] on all points”. Why? We don’t know yet.
Political leaders were quick to congratulate themselves over the ruling. Prime Minister Jóhanna Sigurðardóttir told Vísir that she “said all along that Iceland had never violated the Directive.” Her partner in the ruling coalition, Minister of Industry and Innovation Steingrímur J. Sigfússon, was more pragmatic in his response, saying, “We should be satisfied that we’ve arrived at a conclusion on the matter, and should be in a good mood for the next couple days.” When asked how he felt European officials might respond to the ruling, Steingrímur speculated, “We could expect that their feelings are hurt, especially in Brussels. The British and Dutch might also want to think about how aggressively they went after us.”
Iceland’s Minister of Foreign Affairs, Össur Skarphéðinsson, was in an especially good mood, telling reporters, when asked what the next step for Iceland was, “We’re going to throw a party.” He added that he hoped for “messages of congratulations” from the British and the Dutch. He would later address parliament, congratulating the country as a whole.
Even Björk commented on the ruling, posting on Facebook: “congratulations to the icelandic nation on winning the icesave case !! it gives me hope that we didnt have to pay for the crimes of few banksters !! justice occasionally happens”
In the midst of all this, it should not be forgotten that President Ólafur Ragnar Grímsson told Sky News last week that whatever the ruling of the EFTA court would turn out to be, it “would not be legally binding” and would be “strictly advisory”. Fortunately, he was wrong, as the EFTA’s ruling essentially means that the UK and Holland cannot sue Iceland for up to 400 billion ISK (2.3 billion euros) in damages. Among the first to credit the President with the EFTA ruling was, ironically enough, former Landsbanki director Sigurjón Þorvaldur Árnason, who said, “If he hadn’t used [the veto], we would be in a much different place than we are now,” referring to the President’s refusal to sign two iterations of the Icesave deal, referring them to public referendum, where they were overwhelmingly defeated.
In the meantime, the management of the old Landsbanki will continue to pay the UK and Holland for the deposits the two countries covered over four years previous. Last summer, this debt was half paid. Maybe, some day, the word “Icesave” will disappear from Icelandic news, and move into the annals of history.



News
<?php the_title(); ?>

Police Guns Detained By Toll Authorities Until Proven Gifts

by

The 250 machine guns, recently acquired from the Norwegian army, have been sealed off by toll authorities, who will not deliver them to the Coast Guard until the latter can prove that the weapons were a gift, as its representatives have publicly claimed. According to RÚV, toll authorities locked up and sealed the warehouse in which the weapons are kept, until the Coast Guard can provide such evidence. Whereas the Coast Guard has not provided any proof, toll authorities have a copy of the Norwegian Army’s invoice for the guns, supporting Norway’s claim that the Coast Guard purchased them. If

News
<?php the_title(); ?>

Adam Ibrahim Pasha Ends Hunger Strike

by

Adam Ibrahim Pasha has ended his hunger strike. He announced the end of the strike on Thursday evening, his tenth day striking. Pasha took the action to protest against the Directorate of Immigration’s decision not to process his application for asylum in Iceland. In his announcement, Pasha explains that he respects Icelandic authorities and the Directorate of Immigration in particular. He says that he does not want them to feel as if he meant to force their decision, but explains that he took the action out of fear for his own life, if deported. He says that he now considers

News
<?php the_title(); ?>

“To Write A Saga, You Must Kill A Cow”

by

Last night, as reported, director Benedikt Erlingsson and producer Friðrik Þór Friðriksson received the Nordic Council Film Prize for the 2013 comedy “Of Horses and Men”. In his acceptance speech, Benedikt criticized the government for cutting the budget of the Icelandic Film Fund by, he said, 42 percent, this year. Describing the situation as a “catastrophe”, Benedikt announced the presence of Icelandic politicians at the ceremony, and encouraged other members of the audience to pick up the topic in conversations, during the succeeding party. “Talk to them about the Icelandic sagas,” Benedikt said, and continued: “Tell them that we who

News
<?php the_title(); ?>

Bishop Blames Immigration For People Leaving The Church

by

Bishop of Iceland Agnes M. Sigurðardóttir believes people leaving Iceland and foreigners coming in contribute to the high numbers of people deregistering from the National Church. Addressing attendees at an ecumenical council last Saturday, RÚV reports, the bishop offered a number of explanations for why more people are leaving than joining the National Church. “One explanation I mentioned earlier is that when people move out of the country, they are automatically de-registered from the church,” she said. “So one explanation [for the decrease] are the number of people leaving the country.” However, recent data from Statistics Iceland shows that only

News
<?php the_title(); ?>

Most Consider Themselves Unsafe Downtown

by

Over half of those who responded to a poll done for the police said they feel unsafe downtown after dark or after midnight on weekends. MBL reports that, according to a poll conducted by the Social Sciences Department of the University of Iceland (at the behest of the police), 55% of respondents said they considered downtown a very or rather unsafe place to be either after midnight on weekends, or after dark on any day of the week. Only 8% said they believed they were very safe downtown during these hours. Women were 71% more likely than men to consider

News
<?php the_title(); ?>

Labour Leaders Prepare For Hard Road Ahead

by

Leaders of several trade unions say they are getting ready to take a harder stance against management this year, with the need for solidarity amongst workers especially emphasised. The temporary collective bargaining agreement that was agreed upon earlier this year is soon reaching a close, and many professions – such as music teachers and doctors – are already striking, or considering doing so. Vísir spoke with several trade union leaders about the negotiations to come, and what their position on the current labour situation is. Kristján Þórður Snæbjarnarson, chairperson of the Icelandic Electricians Union, said solidarity amongst workers is the

Show Me More!