From Iceland — Björk Speaks Up On Magma Again

Björk Speaks Up On Magma Again

Published July 19, 2010

Björk Speaks Up On Magma Again

This Tuesday, a formal proposal was submitted to the Public Representative of the Icelandic Parliament, signed by Björk Guðmundsdóttir, Jón Þórisson (the Icelandic assistant to Eva Joly) and the writer Oddný Eir Ævarsdóttir. The proposal concerns the sale of Iceland’s natural resources to the company Magma Energy, and, according to its authors, “aims to initiate an open discussion and encourage reconsideration of this sale, ensuring that the interests of the public are being protected and that clarification is achieved on all aspects of this decisive case concerning the future of Iceland.”
In addition to the proposal, Björk, Jón and Oddný also put forward several questions they feel must be addressed by Iceland’s government, parliament and the public before the business exchange can continue. They may be read below.
Björk is planning a press conference (with a performance!) on Monday at 16:00 in Reykjavík’s Nordic House, but we called her up and asked her a about the statement for this issue.
We know you’ve actively addressed various environmental matters over the last decade, and that you have expressed deep concerns about the Magma deal (as per your letter we published this spring). What is it about the Magma deal specifically that worries you so?
“How we react to this particular case will set a strong precedent for how we will handle matters concerning our energy resources in the future. We are not in a strong position—post-banking collapse, Icesave and the like—and many parties will try and take advantage of our situation to try and force through ‘good deals’.
I also think it is overwhelmingly tragic that after everything that’s gone on—all the bankruptcies, the rise in unemployment, the pots and pans revolution and the SIC report—that we are still selling our wealth and resources at bargain rates in shady deals made behind closed doors. Have we learnt nothing? We are still behaving like a colony!”  
The questions:
-In two weeks Magma Energy Sweden AB could become the biggest shareholder of HS Orka. Then the company would have access to some of our most important natural resources for 65 years with an optional extension for another 65 years. 130 years! Is this in accordance with the laws that state only the Icelandic government should have the right to harness and govern the natural resources of Iceland?
-Shouldn’t we ask for an investigation of this deal and get a report on the business exchange concerning our resources, as we got a report on the banks?
-Shouldn’t the nation be able to decide for itself if it is willing to sell off its natural resources, by means of a law change to enable a national referendum?  
-One of the IMF’s suggestions is that Iceland should open up access to its natural resources to foreigners. According to the letter of intent signed by the government last April, it seems that those suggestions will be followed. Are we thus going to use our nature in this way to pay off the Icesave-debts of those few Icelandic venture capitalists?
-Wouldn’t we be in a better position to pay off our debts and get out of the crisis if we retain the rights to our resources and get the profit ourselves from harnessing them?
-We don’t know exactly who the shareholders of Magma Energy are. Is it wise to legalise the deal without knowing that first?
-Allegedly the Magma deal is about the benefits of foreign investment. How does that compute with the fact that 70% of the purchase price is financed with a local bullet-loan with collateral in the shares?
-Could the selling of the rights to exploit Icelandic natural resources to Magma Energy be a continuation of the infamous Rei-case?
-Is there anything that guarantees Magma won’t take all the profit from harnessing our natural resources out of Iceland?
-Is there anything that guarantees jobs will be created in Iceland through this deal?
-Do we at all profit from this deal? Is it possible that the profit all goes to the middle-men that we the people and even the government do not know of?
-How are these two things compatible: to promote more heavy industry and to hold our promises against pollution? Is Iceland not going to participate in the fight against global warming?
-In the future, water will probably be the most valuable resource in the world. Will the deal with Magma Energy possibly set a legal precedent, and be used in the future to enforce the sale of more natural resources?
-What will our grandchildren think of the deals we’re making now?

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