While leader nations of the European Union formally agreed yesterday to begin acession talk with Iceland, the new conservative-led government in the UK reminded Iceland that it could block their admittance to the EU unless it settles on Icesave.
Despite the fact that EU leaders themselves have said repeatedly that Icesave will not and should not influence accession talks, the European summit did say, at the behest of British and Dutch authorities, that Iceland would have to address “existing obligations such as those identified by the European free trade area surveillance authority,” refering to Icesave.
UK Foreign secretary William Hague told the summit that Britain had the power to block Iceland’s membership, unless Icesave was settled. “Iceland will have to recognise its obligations,” he said. “We won’t block [opening negotiations], but we will want it clear at the start that Iceland meets its financial and legal obligations.”
“We’ve taken note of that,” Stefán Haukur Jóhannesson, Iceland’s chief negotiator with Brussels, told the Guardian. “It’s a contentious issue between our three countries. But we don’t see it as linked with the accession process,” adding that it was “self-evident that we will live up to our obligations” but insisted there could be no direct linkage between the financial row and the European negotiations.
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