Iceland’s foreign minister has hit back at fishing magnates angry that the government has not declared neutrality over Western sanctions against Russia, which has led to food import sanctions being imposed by Russia against Iceland.
Minister of Foreign Affairs, Gunnar Bragi Sveinsson, has told reporters he is wondering whether people who put their own interests above those of everybody else are the right people to be left in charge of natural resources. He says a possible lowering of fishing duties could be considered—but stresses it would only be to protect jobs, not the bottom line of wealthy fisheries owners.
“I’m just saying that in order to protect jobs in areas that could be affected by these sanctions, then I think it could be considered,” Gunnar Bragi told RÚV. He added, however, that any tax relief from the government to save jobs would have to go hand-in-hand with sacrifices made by fishing companies.
Fishing companies which export Icelandic seafood to Russia have criticized the Icelandic government for its support for, and participation in, trade sanctions against Russia.
Gunnar Bragi believes fishing companies should take account of international politics and not only their own profit margins before criticizing. He also made clear that the present-day successes of the Icelandic fishing industry are as much to do with the environment created for it by the government, as it is about well-run companies.