The Prime Minister’s Office has published a press release to react to news coverage addressing Sigmundur Davíð Gunnlaugsson’s lack of attendance at the Paris march for press freedom, held in the wake of the attacks on Charlie Hebdo last week, reports RÚV.
The press release cites a “combination of factors” that kept Sigmundur Davíð from attending the march.
These factors include short notice, flight times as well as the prime minister’s schedule.
The press release further emphasises that the Prime Minister’s Office received notice late Friday evening from the French Embassy inviting foreign guests to join the march in Paris but that it was not an official invitation from the French President himself.
Therefore, reports that the prime minister turned down the invitation to join the march are not strictly true.
As reported by The Guardian, state leaders from around the world were in attendance but were not given any ceremonial standing in the march: “presidents, prime ministers, statesmen and women travelled by bus to join a largely silent march”.
Last night Sigmundur Davíð took to his Facebook page to address the issue, writing:
It is not true that I declined an invitation from the French President to attend the march in Paris today. There wasn’t really any invitation from the French President. The night before last I did, however, receive a letter from the French embassy that expressed gratitude for support shown to the French and indicated that foreign guests who so wished, could participate in the march. That invitation was not declined either, on the contrary action was immediately taken to ensure a representative of Iceland was present for the march. I was interested in attending myself as the events in France and the many things connected to the events has had an impact on me, as it has on many others. I was disappointed that it didn’t work out but was more disappointed to see misinformation reported that took away from the real issue: Support for the victims and the importance of discussing basic human rights and to guard it.
Last night the Grapevine reported that the Icelandic ambassador to France’s alias attended the march as a representative of the country.
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