Iceland’s Alþingi parliament yesterday approved the country’s new national security strategy.
The parliamentarians’ vote was decisive and enjoyed cross-party support; with 42 votes in favor and six abstentions. There were no votes against. This is the first national security policy ever passed by Alþingi and voices on all sides of the political spectrum were upbeat.
“This is a very important occasion. Alþingi has, for the first time in the history of the Republic, approved a national security strategy for Iceland. The cross-political agreement that has been reached here in Alþingi on this important issue is particularly satisfying,” the new Minister for Foreign Affairs Lilja Alfreðsdóttir told Alþingi.
The national security strategy ranges from the country’s foreign policy, to defense and public safety and will see the establishment of a special national security council to oversee the implementation of the national security strategy and to stimulate active discussion of safety and security issues.
The national security strategy has been making slow progress through the political system since it was first formally put forth in 2011 by the then-foreign minister, Össur Skarphéðinsson. His strategy idea at the time was itself built on recommendations from a risk assessment committee which reported to the foreign ministry in 2009. Össur described yesterday’s vote in favor of the new strategy as “historic,” Vísir reports.
“This is an historic moment here in Alþingi. Three foreign ministers have worked on this issue. One put the strategy forward, another became an important linchpin on the matter, and it has come that the role of the third is to put the bill forward which pushes the strategy into action,” Össur said.