Icelanders have to pay the Icesave bill. In a statement yesterday to Parliament on the meeting last week of the European Council PM David Cameron stressed that ‘this country should be a good friend to Iceland and a strong supporter of continued EU enlargement. But Iceland does owe the United Kingdom £2.3 billion…We will use the application process to make sure that Iceland meets its obligations because we want that money back.’
There have been some speculation in Iceland that the Tories might have a different view on Icesave than Labour and the, for Icelanders, mean Gordon Brown. Some months ago I heard from a leading Conservative that his party shared Labour’s stance on Icesave so I wasn’t surprised to hear Cameron’s words. What some Icelanders fail to understand is that there are no UK political interests aligned with the Icelandic interests on not paying. In the UK, Icesave is an unpaid bill, not a cause that the voters are worried about or interested in. Neither are the politicians except they want their money back.
Cameron’s words haven’t gone unnoticed in Iceland. Some even think this was a diplomatic blunder of great dimensions that will only strengthen the opposition in Iceland to EU membership. That’s a rather crude view since Icesave is an issue that needs to be resolved while a EU membership is about very long-term interests, not about paying or not paying for Icesave.
The fact is that Iceland owes £2.3 billion to the U.K. and €1.3 billion to the Netherlands as compensation for depositors who lost money in the collapse of Internet bank Icesave. The Icesave saga is turning into a long one – no wonder that the UK government wants to use all possible means to solve the issue. What would Icelanders do if they were owed money by a nation that had gone back and forth on its words on paying?
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