While the Icelandic government has issued a strongly-worded written statement condemning the Turkish invasion of northern Syria, the Icelandic national men’s team will still be visiting Turkey to play a football match against that country’s national men’s team next month.
“Iceland strongly criticises the Turkish military offensive against Kurds in Northern Syria,” the statement begins. “This position has been formally communicated to the Turkish authorities. As this military offensive is not in accordance with international law, Iceland calls on Turkey to immediately cease its operations and respect international law. Iceland further condemns military operations that, as reported, targets civilians and inflicts casualties.”
While Minister of Foreign Affairs Guðlaugur Þór Þórðarson (seen above) has also condemned the attacks on Twitter, not every Minister in the government is willing to back those words with actions.
Writer and journalist Illugi Jökulsson has pointed out that not only is Iceland’s national men’s football team slated to play against and in Turkey; the Turkish national men’s football team displayed great praise for the Turkish military incursion only days ago. As such, Illugi has suggested that Iceland boycott the match—a sentiment shared by many, judging by the comments.
However, Minister of Culture Lilja Alfreðsdóttir is of the opinion that a boycott would not be a good idea, on the grounds that “we should not mix sports and politics”, Vísir reports, despite the Turkish national men’s team already making the matter political.
“I am of the opinion that sports can instead bring people together, and disputes can be resolved through arts, sports, and related matters,” she told reporters. “I have never liked it when sports and politics are mixed together.”
US President Donald Trump’s decision to withdraw US forces from northern Syria has also provoked strong criticism from Iceland’s Kurdish community, just as it is also carving stronger divisions with the US Senate.
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