Iceland’s Foreign Minister Looking Towards China (PS)

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palli-dlIs China our new next best friend?

Iceland is pushing to become an Arctic hub after scrapping EU accession, according to an article published by Bloomberg earlier today.

Here are some of the highlights with the interview with Iceland’s foreign minister Gunnar Bragi Sveinsson:

“I hope Iceland will never join the EU,” Sveinsson said. “It’s impossible to say what will happen in 10 years or 20 years, but in my opinion the EU is moving in a direction that should make it less desirable for Iceland to join. There’s greater centralization, power is being shifted from the sovereigns to unelected bureaucrats.”

Instead, Iceland is using its bilateral ties with China and others to help boost trade. The country will also seek to build closer links to Canada and the U.S., according to Sveinsson. The cooperation will include “defense issues,” he said.

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“The focus of Iceland’s foreign policy is on the Arctic,” Sveinsson said. The island will work for deeper cooperation within the Arctic Council and seek to provide a base in the region to help support trade with China, Singapore and South Korea, among others, he said.

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“It’s very important for us to have a free trade agreement with China,” said Sveinsson. “The Chinese are interested in Iceland and the Arctic and naturally Iceland should utilize that interest, just like Iceland utilizes that interest among other nations. Hopefully, Iceland’s relationship with China will grow stronger.”

Páll Stefánsson - ps@icelandreview.com

Views expressed here are the author's own and do not necessarily reflect the opinions of Iceland Review.