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Politicians Split Over Russia Sanctions

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Politicians Split Over Russia Sanctions

Alþingi, Iceland's parliament

Photo: Páll Kjartansson.

Icelandic politicians in the ruling coalition parties have varying views on the country’s continued support for European sanctions against Russia, and the split is not along party lines.

Since Moscow announced it has retaliated by including Iceland on the list of countries banned from exporting food products to Russia, several MPs have expressed that they believe Iceland should stop supporting Western trade sanctions against the giant country.

Most Progressive Party MPs RÚV spoke to support the government’s strong stance, saying some economic hardship is worth the moral stand. Karl Garðarsson, Líneik Anna Sævarsdóttir, Silja Dögg Gunnarsdóttir, Willum Þór Þórsson, Eygló Harðardóttir and Gunnar Bragi Sveinsson all fall into that camp. Most specifically mention the Russian annexation of the Crimean peninsula, saying that Western nations need to show solidarity.

Frosti Sigurjónsson says, on the other hand, that he does not support sanctions against Russia and that Iceland should not ape the EU’s punishment. Páll Jóhann Pálsson agrees, saying that there is every reason to re-examine the government’s current stance.

Siguður Ingi Jóhannsson, Minister of Fisheries and Agriculture, says it is important to support the actions of Western states: “But at the same time we need to remember that we have a 70-year trading history with the Russians and that a society of 330,000 people needs to trim its sails to the wind—that the nation’s interests are always at the forefront.”

Three members of the Progressive party: Haraldur Einarsson, Jóhanna María Sigmundsdóttir and Vigdís Hauksdóttir, refused to comment.

There are also split opinions within the Independence Party. Of the MPs RÚV contacted, seven support the sanctions and three do not. Those three are, Ásmundur Friðriksson, Valgerður Gunnarsdóttir and Brynjar Níelsson, who says: “I am generally against trade sanctions. I view free trade as part of basic human rights.”

Birgir Ármannsson, Elín Hirst, Guðlaugur Þór Þórðarson, Sigríður Á. Andersen, Unnur Brá Konráðsdóttir, Vilhjálmur Bjarnason and Jón Gunnarsson all support the government’s stance. “I cannot see that it would be possible any other way than with a special statement saying that Iceland does not support the weapons sales ban on Russia because of their intervention in Ukraine. I believe it is unthinkable that the Icelandic authorities would release such a statement,” Sigríður Andersen says.

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