Icesave Talks Under Foreign Advisement; Progressives Determined to Hold Referendum - The Reykjavik Grapevine

Icesave Talks Under Foreign Advisement; Progressives Determined to Hold Referendum

Published February 10, 2010

The chairmen of Iceland’s political parties continue to hold talks on Icesave, under the advisement of foreign consultants. The Minister of Finance told reporters he is in constant contact with British and Dutch authorities. Progressive chairman says he wants a national referendum on Icesave, even if the existing law is withdrawn.
Talks continue between Iceland’s political parties, under the advisement of US law professor Lee Bucheit and former OECD chairman Don Johnston. At the same time, Minister of Finance Steingrímur J. Sigfússon told Vísir that he is in constant contact with Dutch Finance Minister Wouter Bos, and British Finance Services Secretary Lord Paul Myners. While he was vague about the progress being made so far, Sigfússon did say that Bucheit and Johnston would “lend their powers” to negotiations between Iceland, the UK and Holland.
In related news, Eyjan.is reports that even if the current Icesave law were withdrawn, Progressive Party chairman Sigmundur Davíð Gunnlaugsson believes the national referendum should go forward anyway – even though it would be a vote on a law that has been taken off the books. His partner in the opposition, Independence Party chairman Bjarni Benediktsson, disagrees. He believes that if the British and Dutch are willing to begin talks in a new light, a national referendum on the old law would be unnecessary.
The national referendum, tentatively scheduled for 6 March, will cost Icelandic taxpayers 200 million ISK if it goes forward. Icelandic journalist Íris Erlingsdóttir has noted a connection between InDefence – the group who organized a petition calling for the president to veto the Icesave law and have it sent up for national referendum – and the Progressive Party, pointing out the fact that “the petition presented to Ólafur Ragnar asking him to veto was the work of Magnús Árni Skúlason, a former Progressive Party board member who was forced to resign from the Central Bank after it became known that he was aiding and abetting violations of the country’s currency laws.”


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