Iceland FM in intra-coalition EU spat

Össur Skarphéðinsson, the Social Democratic Minister for Foreign Affairs in Iceland, has ignited controversy within the coalition government with comments that it is much too late for his Left Green colleague, Minister of the Interior Ögmundur Jónasson, to now be calling for EU accession talks to be sped up, because he and his allies have been the biggest factor delaying them before now. It does not serve Iceland’s best interests to start rushing the negotiations now, Össur says.

Ögmundur (picture on the right) this weekend said at a meeting of the Left Green Movement party council that detailed results of the negotiations for Icelandic membership of the European Union must be available before the next national parliamentary elections, which will be held around a year from now.

Össur did not mince his words in saying that Ögmundur’s sentiments come too late: “On the other hand it is an open secret that it was precisely Ögmundur’s wing, the wild cats of the Left Green Movement, that resisted all along and, for example, pushed in individual ministries to ensure key essential specialists were not brought in to work on the preparations,” Össur claims — adding that these stalling tactics seriously delayed negotiations on the agricultural chapter, among others, .

Össur said it does not serve the interests of Iceland to speed up negotiations. “It is really very surprising to hear a highly experienced negotiator like Ögmundur Jónasson almost go down on his knees and ask for an EU accession contract, any old contract, just so it will be possible to vote on it at a time that is convenient for him today. He should know, as a highly experienced negotiator, that that is one of the worst negotiating positions it is possible to adopt.”

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