Update: today the Mayor of Reykjavik, Jon Gnarr, said ‘Yes’ to independence for Scotland.
— National Collective (@WeAreNational) February 21, 2014
In an exclusive interview with National Collective, the newly elected Icelandic Prime Minister Sigmundur Davíð said he would welcome an independent Scotland into the world. In the event of a ‘Yes’ vote in next year’s referendum, the Icelandic government would “welcome Scotland with a new, thriving relationship.” Although Iceland has not taken an official position, he said that “Whatever the will of the people is, that is something that we would support.”
Sigmundur highlighted Iceland’s history of celebrating new independent countries, stating that “Icelanders have usually been very supportive of nations seeking independence.” The Prime Minister and members of the new government also demonstrated enthusiasm for greater cooperation between an independent Scotland, Iceland and the Nordic Council. The Prime Minister said “My government is very focused on increasing regional cooperation,” adding that Iceland would “be very happy to see increased cooperation happen” between the two nations.
This landmark intervention signifies a growing interest in Scotland’s future among Icelandic politicians. The new Prime Minister – who is likely to be in office until at least 2017 – follows previous comments by Iceland’s President, who welcomed the prospect of an independent Scotland last December. President Grímsson said that “independence can be the road towards prosperity and a good society.” Iceland was also the first nation in the world to recognise the independence of Lithuania, Estonia and Croatia.
This news is a boost to both the Yes Scotland campaign and the Scottish government, who face the challenge of demonstrating support for independence amongst Scotland’s neighbours. Iceland’s willingness to welcome an independent Scotland may influence other nations, especially within the Nordic Council.
The interview with National Collective took place as the new Icelandic parliament was sworn in at the Althing in Reykjavik. Iceland became independent from Denmark in 1944 and remain on good terms with their Scandinavian neighbours. Despite recent financial challenges, Iceland’s economy is growing at a faster rate than the UK, while inequality remains far lower in comparison. In the UN’s most recent Human Development Index – which compares social and economic standards across nations – Iceland ranked 13th in the world. The UK was 26th.
The Prime Minister spoke of Iceland’s competitive advantages. “Being such a small nation has certainly presented us with its challenges, but it has also given us advantages. We have a lot of land and resources. We have enough to maintain an independent state and welfare for all. If we govern wisely we should be able to provide for everyone.”
One crucial resource that Iceland has in common with Scotland is oil. The Icelandic government is planning a national oil fund to secure prosperity for future generations. The Prime Minister stated that the oil fund “was in preparation so that the resources are not extracted in haste.” Norway has successfully built up an oil fund of $712.7 billion. This is in stark contrast to governments in Westminster who failed to establish an oil fund following the discovery of North Sea Oil.
Following our interview Sigmundur Davíð was presented with a copy of Stephen Maxwell’s recent book ‘Arguing For Independence’, published by Luath Press.
The full transcript of the interview is available ‘here’.
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— Michael Gray (@GrayInGlasgow) June 10, 2013