Icesave Deal Sparks Protests, Clashes with Police - The Reykjavik Grapevine

Icesave Deal Sparks Protests, Clashes with Police

Published June 9, 2009

The controversial deal the Icelandic government struck with British and Dutch authorities over the collapse of Icesave sparked protests that resulted in clashes with police.
The deal itself is that Iceland will pay 2.3 billion pounds over the next 15 years with an interest rate of 5.5%. The decision has stunned political and legal minds in Iceland, and abroad. Daniel Gros, the director of the Center for European Policy Studies, said that the interest rates were too high, telling reporters, “I think that these interest rates create a real danger for Iceland and I don’t think it’s a good deal for the country. I don’t see any country in the world with as high a foreign debt as Iceland after this.”
Many Icelanders apparently agree, as nearly a thousand protestors gathered in front of parliament at 15:00 yesterday, chanting, banging pots and pans (reminiscent of the January Revolution), and throwing coins at the windows of parliament while inside, Minister of Finance Steingrímur J. Sigfússon delivered his address to parliament about the Icesave deal. Five arrests were made, and according to some reports fire extinguishers originally used to put out fires protestors were attempting to light on the square were turned on the protestors themselves.
Not long afterwards, protestors moved to Fríkirkjuvegur 11, an historic house built in 1908 and sold to Icelandic multimillionaire Björgólfur Thor Björgólfsson in 2006. About 20 protestors managed to break into the house, declaring “This house is ours!” as police descended onto the scene. By evening, everyone had left the house again. No arrests were made.
In related news, former Landsbanki director Sigurjón Þ. Árnason told RÚV he believes that the banks assets alone should cover the Icesave debt, and therefore the Icelandic people shouldn’t have to shoulder any of the debt themselves. Árnason’s claims can neither be confirmed nor denied.


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