In a lengthy interview with Chinese newspaper The Global Times, Icelandic president Ólafur Ragnar Grímsson said, among other things, that he does not believe Icelandic taxpayers should foot the bill for Icesave.
“It is unfair to ask ordinary people in Iceland, people who live in villages, in farming communities, in fishing communities, who are teachers, nurses, doctors and factory workers, to settle the bills if these private banks fail. These people didn’t get any profits from the banks. It’s not a sensible system,” the president said in part. “People who put their money into a private bank have to realize that this is a private bank. It’s not a state bank. And the European system of private banking is based on the principle that there is no state guarantee.”
The president had refused to sign the Icesave agreement last March, despite it being passed into law by a parliamentary majority. The veto put the matter up for national referendum. Over 90% of Icelanders voted the agreement down, scuttling any deal with the Dutch and British.
Preliminary talks between Iceland, Britain and Holland have begun again, although there have been voices within parliament – from the opposition and within the Leftist-Greens – that there is no need to continue talks; that the matter should instead be taken to court, to get a legal ruling on the matter.
The entirety of the president’s interview can be read here.
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