Sigurður Ingi Jóhannsson, Minister of Agriculture and Fisheries, has asked the Institute of Regional Development to assess the impact of Russia’s decision to impose an import ban on Icelandic food, RÚV reports. In his words, “a nation of 330.000 always needs to trim its sails to the wind.” The ban was imposed by Russia last Thursday in retaliation for Iceland’s support of Western sanctions.
He believes it’s important to evaluate the decisions of Western nations against our 70-year-old history of trade with Russia before we make further decisions regarding support of Western sanctions. We must put the interests of our country first, he stressed.
When pressed about whether it’s time to reconsider our support of Western sanctions, Sigurður Ingi simply replied, “At this point in time, I think it’s advisable for everyone to remain calm.” He continued, “It turns out that this [import ban] could cause serious damage in certain parts of the country, which is why I have requested that the Institute of Regional Development assess its impact.”
“Right now,” he said, “it’s unclear what impact the ban will have. We’re assessing that right now and looking for ways to live up to all our obligations, both toward the international community, but not the least toward business and business history with nations we’ve dealt with for a long time.”
Meanwhile, the debate goes on among Members of Parliament, some of whom have expressed doubts about the importance of supporting Western sanctions. Those in doubt emphasize that given the extent of our trade with Russia, the effect of the import ban may be proportionally larger here than in other countries.