Iceland Supporting Ukraine Despite Russia Ban - The Reykjavik Grapevine

Iceland Supporting Ukraine Despite Russia Ban

Published August 8, 2014

Nanna Árnadóttir
Photo by
Ministry of Foreign Affairs

Iceland’s Foreign Minister, Gunnar Bragi Sveinsson, has said that Iceland’s support of Ukraine will not waver in the face of Russia’s new import bans, even though Iceland is not among the countries affected. 

Yesterday Russia gave details of its response to Western sanctions, banning the import of meat, fish, dairy products and some other agricultural goods from countries that have targeted Russia with economic boycotts.

Kolbeinn Árnason, managing director of the Federation of Icelandic Fishing Vessel Owners (LÍU), told Vísir that the ban on western imported fish could benefit Iceland greatly.

“Combined Russia and Ukraine imported 30 billion ISK worth of seafood [from Iceland] last year,” said Kolbeinn. “So upwards of 10 to 12% of Iceland’s seafood is exported to that region. If our competitors aren’t getting the chance to import into Russia then that in itself creates an opportunity [for us]. But that also means that more countries are competing with us on markets that we already have a presence in. So this could be a very serious and pressing issue.”

By nation, Poland and Norway stand to lose the most money: Exports to Russia of the now-banned products were worth over 100 billion ISK or 1 billion USD to each country last year.

Last month the European Free Trade Association (EFTA) decided to put their free trade talks with Russia on hold at the annual summer meeting in the Westman Islands due to Russia’s actions and involvement in the Ukraine. 

Around the same time the Foreign Minister also stated in an official visit to the Ukraine that if Iceland’s support lead to financial consequences or issues with Russia, then so be it.

“Yes, yes that still stands,” Gunnar Bragi told Vísir. “And I would like to say unequivocally that we can’t make exceptions [for some countries when it comes to] international laws and human rights, borders and the democracy of nations.”

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