Controversy has arisen surrounding outgoing Minister of Transport and Communications Kristján Möller and Dutch military consultancy firm ECA Program. Kristján contends he hasn’t approved ECA’s use of the former NATO base in Keflaví, ECA contends that he did.
Initially, it was reported that Kristján had, as his last official function, informed ECA Program that they were now formally welcome to begin operations in Iceland. This sparked outrage among leftists within the Icelandic government.
Kristján has denied that he finalized a deal with ECA. Speaking with Eyjan, he added that he is not the only government official involved in working with ECA, as the matter has passed through the prime minister’s office as well. Indeed, as Grapevine reported last March, the Icelandic government was still in the process of working out what sort of deal to have with ECA Program. No contract has yet been formalized.
ECA Program claims to work with governments around the world in dealing with threat assessment, yet few sources outside of the company’s own site can attest to what work they have done. The sources of their finances are also obscure. In Iceland, they intend to house fighter jets and train their clients to fly them.
ECA Program has offered to pay Iceland about 200 billion ISK for use of the old Keflavík air base, and have claimed they could create at least 150 new jobs in the area.
Melville ten Cate, the company’s Dutch co-founder, responds to criticism that the company is a shadowy military corporation by telling the Financial Times that the aircraft will not be equipped to carry ammunition, allowing them to be licensed as commercial aircraft, and no military exercises will take place in Icelandic airspace, adding, “We couldn’t take out a pigeon unless it flew into the engine.”
UPDATE: ECA Program writes on their website that Kristján has, in fact, approved their contract, stating, “As indicated on the Government’s website; Christian L. Möller, public transportation and local minister has ordered the Icelandic Civil Aviation Authorities to start the registration process of E.C.A. aircraft, that are slated to arrive on the island in due time. E.C.A. welcomes and is thankfull for the approval given by the Icelandic Cabinet and is looking forward to working intensively with the ICAA and Gov‘t authorities in the months to come.”