Supreme Allied Commander Europe James Stavridis met with the Prime Minister and Foreign Minister Saturday, and emphasised Iceland’s importance to the organisation.
Stavridis, while only stopping by briefly, has visited Iceland many times in the past. NATO is soon to submit a new platform in Lisbon, Portugal later this month, and Stavridis is making the rounds of the organisation’s national leaders.
Stavridis said in part that Iceland has always been an important country to NATO, and will continue to be. Many Icelanders have felt that their country’s importance within NATO left with the closing of the US naval base in 2006, and leftists in Iceland have always contended that Iceland has no place in the organisation.
However, Stavridis said that on the contrary, Iceland’s role in NATO will increase as polar ice begins to melt more, opening the polar region to increased naval traffic, which will require increased supervision from NATO.
One point of controversy for many Icelanders with regards to Iceland’s role in NATO has concerned the war in Afghanistan. While Iceland’s direct involvement is limited, Icelandic “peace corps” have served there, three of whom were injured in a suicide bombing attack in 2004. Stavridis said that he believes victory will be achieved in Afghanistan, not by killing, but by training more Afghani soldiers and policemen.