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23. október 2020Blá ör til hægriÁvarp utanríkis- og þróunarsamvinnuráðherra á FaroExpo-kaupstefnunni í Runavik í Færeyjum<p><span><br /> Faroexpo 23 October 2020<br /> Brexit – possibilities and challenges<br /> Address by H.E. Gudlaugur Thor Thordarson,&nbsp;<br /> Minister for Foreign Affairs and Development Cooperation, Iceland<br /> <br /> Brexit and the Atlantic Community<br /> <br /> Your Excellency Minister Jenis av Rana, Mr. Mayor (Torbjörn Jacobsen), Excellencies, Ladies and Gentlemen, góðir vinir.<br /> <br /> It is a pleasure and an honour to be invited to speak at Faroexpo. And I am very happy to be in the Faroe Islands in person at the invitation of my good friend Jenis av Rana. I have to admit that sitting at home has been a big challenge for me during the COVID pandemic.&nbsp; <br /> <br /> This is only my second trip abroad in several months.&nbsp;<br /> <br /> The overall theme of this conference is Brexit, its possibilities and challenges. So let me say a word or two about Brexit as seen from Iceland. As an island nation on the Atlantic – like the Faroes – like the UK – we have a different perspective on Europe, and maybe we have more understanding of the UK´s decision to leave the European Union and forge its own path.<br /> <br /> Iceland has an excellent relationship with the European Union based on the European Economic Area Agreement (EEA) and thus it would never be in Iceland´s best interests to join the European Union.&nbsp; Keeping control and sovereignty over our fisheries resources is, of course, a major consideration; but we also shape our own agricultural policy; we are outside monetary union giving us extra flexibility; we conduct our own trade policy allowing us to negotiate free trade agreements (e.g. with the Faroe Islands and China); but I suspect that Iceland´s national character also plays an important role.&nbsp;<br /> <br /> I am an optimist when it comes to Brexit. I often point out, especially to EU friends, that the UK will not suddenly depart its present location and end up in the South Pacific or the Indian Ocean. The UK will stay where it is – one of the closest and biggest neighbours of the EU. They will both need to find a way of living and trading together. It is in the interest of both parties, not least the EU, to find a solution.&nbsp;</span></p> <p><span>As for Iceland’s trade relationship with the UK, until now it has been based mainly on the EEA Agreement. The UK´s departure from the EU means that we must negotiate a new set of agreements.&nbsp;</span></p> <p><span>The UK is our biggest single trading partner within the EU and globally, second only to the US. We are neighbours, we have a shared history, shared values, close trading links.&nbsp; So getting our new agreements right is a key objective of Icelandic foreign policy.<br /> Work is going well, despite COVID. Along with Norway and Liechtenstein we have an agreement with the UK on its withdrawal from the EEA which mirrors the UK-EU withdrawal agreement.&nbsp;</span></p> <p><span>We have also hammered out a shared vision of our future relationship. In May of this year, we signed a Joint Vision Paper for 2030 on enhancing cooperation between Iceland and the United Kingdom in a wide range of areas, including trade and investment, fisheries, research and innovation, regional and international cooperation, defence and security, climate change and the Arctic as well as people to people links.&nbsp;</span></p> <p><span>Work is well advanced on a comprehensive Free Trade Agreement between Iceland, Norway, Liechtenstein and the UK. We aim to complete negotiations by the end of the year. This will be our platform for a dynamic trade and economic relationship.&nbsp;</span></p> <p><span>Fisheries is an area where Iceland and the UK can certainly increase cooperation. We already have a draft MoU in place on strengthening our cooperation in this field which we will now begin to implement.&nbsp;</span></p> <p><span>We have also completed negotiations on an Air Services Agreement which would enter into force once EEA rules no longer apply. This will prevent disruption to flights between Iceland and the UK (Other than those caused by the pandemic or North Atlantic winter weather!)</span></p> <p><span>We are looking forward to working more closely together with the UK in international and multilateral institutions, particularly given our joint focus on areas such as gender equality, LGBTI rights and climate change.</span></p> <p><span>Iceland and the UK are members of NATO. Last year Iceland and the UK signed an MoU on defence and security. This has already proved useful and we will build on it even further to secure our ties in this field. We are also looking into various matters related to police cooperation and internal security.&nbsp;</span></p> <p><span>Although free movement of persons will end in its present form, we will work hard to continue to support close people-to-people links between Iceland and the UK. We are looking into new agreements on social security and youth mobility as well as ensuring that student exchanges can continue.&nbsp;</span></p> <p><span>As we negotiate our future relationship, Iceland and the UK will look to our joint vision for 2030 as an overarching framework which cements our close friendship and cooperation and establishes what I hope will become a strategic partnership.<br /> <br /> Our vision paper 2030 with the UK has a wider significance. Its starting point is, in my view, the UK decision to think globally and the return of the UK as a fully paid up member of the Atlantic community.&nbsp;</span></p> <p><span>Boris Johnson spoke at Greenwich, London in February this year of this being “the moment for the UK to think of its past and go up a gear again, to recapture the spirit of its seafaring ancestors”. And he spoke of their „mission – open, outward-looking – generous, welcoming, engaged with the world championing global free trade now when global free trade needs a global champion.”</span></p> <p><span>This is a positive vision not only for the UK but also for its partners in the Atlantic community. The Atlantic gives us a shared history, it is a shared resource and it has for centuries been a road between the nations around it. The refocus that Brexit has already brought about in the UK is an opportunity for all of us in the Atlantic community.&nbsp;</span></p> <p><span>Iceland and the UK have centuries of history between them. In Icelandic history books we refer to the fifteenth century as the “English century”, reflecting the extent of trade at that time, with English ships a common sight on our shores. The English brought cloth, flour, beer, wine and other vital items for our population, taking back in turn stockfish and wool.&nbsp;&nbsp;</span></p> <p><span>Of course, we have had our differences with the UK, but in some ways the outcome of our various Cod Wars underlines the close connection between our two nations. We have been able to settle our differences and move forward and maintain and strengthen our relations.&nbsp;</span></p> <p><span>Our strategic, political and security interests remain very much aligned. The importance of the GIUK (Greenland Iceland UK gap) in strategic thinking is another illustration of how the North Atlantic binds us together. The basic principles which led the UK to stake a claim in the North Atlantic during the last war have not changed. The German U-boat peril meant that the British occupation of Iceland proved to be vital in operations conducted by Britain and its Allies to protect the North Atlantic sea lines of communication. At the same time, it laid the ground for Iceland’s future security and defence, including as a member of NATO.&nbsp;</span></p> <p><span>During the Cold war our strategic link remained essential. It was only after the end of the Cold War that a tendency developed of viewing the North Atlantic as an area that no longer needed minding.&nbsp;</span></p> <p><span>This brief respite following the Cold War is over as tensions develop globally. Evidence of heightened interest by large powers in the North Atlantic region and the Arctic are there for all to see.&nbsp;</span></p> <p><span>Given the complex and transnational nature of contemporary security challenges, the North Atlantic community needs to uphold its values and work together. The threats and challenges facing our community will only be addressed and managed through determined cooperation.<br /> These challenges include climate, with widespread implications for other policy areas. This threat is prevalent in the Arctic and we can work even closer together on this issue, both in regard to our diplomatic efforts and policy making.&nbsp;</span></p> <p><span>Hybrid and cyber threats have perhaps never been higher on the agenda, not least because hybrid threats and cyber-attacks have soared during COVID-19.</span></p> <p><span>The COVID-19 pandemic also threatens to further undermine the multilateral system and the rules-based world order, which has seldom been under as much strain as it is today. We must therefore continue developing common approaches and efforts to promote core values and principles the Atlantic community represents.&nbsp;</span></p> <p><span>Brexit is one of the most significant shifts in European and transatlantic geopolitics since the fall of the Berlin wall. I believe it can bring the North Atlantic community closer together.</span></p> <p><span>We are like-minded nations enjoying excellent cooperation in various international fora and sharing commitments to promote a rules-based multilateral system.</span></p> <p><span>This is evident in our close cooperation in the field of human rights, such as our work in the Media Freedom Coalition founded by the UK and Canada, and in the UN Human Rights Council on the situation in Xinjiang.</span></p> <p><span>The Atlantic Community is tied together through our collective defence, cooperative security, and exchanges of trade. In the area of trade, I believe we can do more in the long term. We already have agreements with the Faroes, Greenland and aim to update our agreement with Canada. We hope to have a free trade agreement in place with the UK in the near future. One big gap remains, the US – I would like to see a strategic trade agreement with the US in the coming years. Then we can start thinking about how we link up all these agreements!&nbsp;<br /> <br /> So how does the title of this address relate to the Faroes and Iceland? We share centuries of history. We trace our ancestry back to Norway and to the British Isles. As a result, we share close cultural bonds – indeed no other language is as close to Icelandic as Faeroese. Don´t forget that it was Icelandic authors who wrote down and preserved the Færeyingasaga and had keen understanding for the hero Þrándur í Götu, who struggled against the oppressive authority and taxation of the Norwegian Kings. We Icelanders experienced a similar struggle.&nbsp;</span></p> <p><span>We have worked together in fisheries for centuries. I could point to a number of agreements between us on fisheries which could be considered beneficial for the Faroes. As modern fishing nations with sustainable utilisation as the key principle, we know that many countries look to us here in this part of the Atlantic as examples of how to maximise value in fisheries.</span></p> <p><span>We look forward to working with the UK in on sustainable fisheries too, as the UK re-establishes itself as an independent fishing nation.&nbsp;</span></p> <p><span>&nbsp;</span></p> <p><span>Over the past years trade in goods and services has blossomed between Iceland and the Faeroes. Tourism boomed until the pandemic hit. We hope that the present crisis will be resolved soon and that we see recovery in the tourism sector. Nevertheless, back home I have underlined the need to be creative and to look to other paths for economic growth. To regain the ground lost, we need to use all the tools at our disposal.&nbsp; We must increase trade and economic cooperation.&nbsp; For trading nations such as ours, free, rules-based international trade is key. We must do all we can to protect free trade, which in the present international climate is under threat.&nbsp;</span></p> <p><span>We have a strong trading framework between us.&nbsp;</span></p> <p><span>The Hoyvík Agreement is by far the deepest and most comprehensive free trade agreement that either nation has concluded. Iceland gives no other country as much market access – no other country can export all its agricultural products to Iceland tariff free. The first few years following entry into force of the Agreement there was a trade surplus in Iceland’s favour but now the tables have turned and over the past three years the Faeroes have enjoyed a trade surplus with us. I would like to compliment the Faroes on grasping the opportunities which the Agreement offers.&nbsp;</span></p> <p><span>I believe the Hoyvik Agreement can remain a firm basis for growing economic cooperation and trade between us. I have to admit, I was relieved that the government of the Faroes took the courageous step of cancelling the notice of withdrawal at the end of last year.&nbsp; Abandoning the Hoyvik Agreement would have been a very negative signal to our business communities.&nbsp; It would also have given the wrong impression to the rest of the Atlantic community if two such close neighbours – cousins – were unable to make a success of trade between themselves.&nbsp;</span></p> <p><span>I believe we should work together in the coming months to look at ways to further strengthen our already close friendship. We have cooperation agreements on education and health. I believe we should put effort into making these agreements work on the ground.&nbsp;<br /> We already have good Consul Generals. But I want to exchange dozens of ambassadors too.&nbsp; &nbsp;School and college years are when you make relationships for life.&nbsp; If we can get young Faroese to come to Iceland for university and further education, and if we can send young Icelanders in the other direction to the Faroes, we will be creating an army of ambassadors and fostering closer relations for coming generations.&nbsp;</span></p> <p><span>Our two nations have always stood together at difficult times. It was second nature for us to welcome Faroese with open arms in search of work and with increased fishing quotas during your economic crisis at the end of the last century. The generous friendship of the Faroes during our financial and economic crisis ten years ago and when we experienced the avalanche tragedies in 1995 in Súðavík and Flateyri will never be forgotten by us.&nbsp;<br /> Like Gunnar á Hliðarenda, the famous Icelandic sagas hero, I must say that we value your gifts highly, but we value your friendship even more highly. Góðar eru gjafir þínar [ykkar], en meira þykir mér vert vinfengi þitt [ykkar] og sona þinna [ykkar]. We are grateful to have you as friends and I am confident that our friendship will flourish as we work together in the Atlantic community.&nbsp;&nbsp;<br /> </span></p> <div>&nbsp;</div>
20. október 2020Blá ör til hægriÁvarp á framlagaráðstefnu vegna Mið-Sahel<span>Ladies and Gentlemen,<br /> <br /> Today’s roundtable is a reminder of the difficult and complex situation in the Central Sahel. As so many have highlighted today, the region is faced with a crisis of the greatest magnitude.<br /> <br /> Armed conflict, poverty, under-development and climate change have brought about the most devastating consequences for the people of Central Sahel; displacement, human rights abuses, destruction of livelihoods, hunger and loss of life. And as we all know, the situation has been further compounded by the COVID-19 pandemic.<br /> <br /> A comprehensive approach is urgently needed in the region. Humanitarian, development and peace actors must all be in sync, working together, complementing each other´s efforts. Our action must be in line with international humanitarian law and principled humanitarian action.&nbsp;<br /> <br /> As a strong advocate for human rights and gender equality, I want to highlight the importance of a systematic focus on women and girls. There is no denying that in situations of armed conflict and displacement, women and girls become increasingly vulnerable to gender-based violence and other forms of exploitation, and when poverty and hunger rises, women and girls are usually negatively affected. COVID-19 has further aggravated the situation. Iceland is committed to bringing forth concrete and transformative actions to achieve irreversible progress on gender equality, in close collaboration with our UN partners. We urge others do to the same.&nbsp;<br /> <br /> Ladies and Gentlemen,<br /> <br /> The need for funding and support, to alleviate immediate suffering, enhance resilience and build back better is obvious. Iceland wants to do its part, highlighting the importance of predictable and flexible funding.<br /> <br /> I am therefore announcing an initial two-year humanitarian contribution of 80 million Icelandic krona. Iceland is new to the Central Sahel, but we intend to do more, with a focus on the humanitarian-development-peace nexus.&nbsp;&nbsp;<br /> <br /> In closing - Iceland will continue to be an advocate for human rights and respect for human dignity - and we fully support efforts that may contribute to durable solutions in the Central Sahel.&nbsp;<br /> <br /> Thank you.<br /> </span> <div>&nbsp;</div>
15. október 2020Blá ör til hægriSaman í sókninni<p><span><br /> Stærsta áskorun stjórnvalda um þessar mundir er að milda höggið af kórónuveirufaraldrinum fyrir íslenskan almenning og atvinnulíf. Utanríkisþjónustan gegnir þar veigamiklu hlutverki. Nú þegar útlit er fyrir að gjaldeyristekjur þjóðarinnar dragist verulega saman vegna tímabundins samdráttar í ferðaþjónustu verðum við blása til stórátaks í útflutningi.<br /> <br /> Í upphafi faraldursins tók utanríkisþjónustan höndum saman við að greiða leið þúsunda Íslendinga hingað heim. Þegar þessu stóra verkefni lauk ákvað ég að næsta forgangsmál utanríkisþjónustunnar yrði að styðja enn frekar við íslenskan útflutning. Ég skipaði starfshóp sem lagði fram tillögur í tólf liðum í skýrslunni Saman á útivelli – framkvæmd utanríkisstefnu í kjölfar COVID-19.<br /> <br /> Á meðal þessara tillagna er viðskiptavakt fyrir íslenskan útflutning sem í dag verður formlega ýtt úr vör. Um er að ræða mikilvæga viðbót við þá aðstoð sem viðskiptaþjónusta utanríkisráðuneytisins hefur veitt um árabil. Nú verður hægt að hringja í utanríkisráðuneytið allan sólahringinn komi upp aðstæður eða samskiptahnökrar sem bregðast þarf strax við, jafnvel um miðja nótt eða í aðdraganda stórhátíða. Til dæmis þarf að hafa hraðar hendur ef fersk matvæli liggja undir skemmdum vegna vandamála við tollafgreiðslu. Einnig getur viðskiptafólk lent í vanda á ferðalögum erlendis, ekki síst á þessum farsóttartímum. Á okkar snærum starfar sérhæft starfsfólk á 26 sendiskrifstofum í 21 landi, auk rúmlega tvö hundruð kjörræðismanna í 92 löndum, sem vinna að hagsmunum Íslands á alþjóðavettvangi. Utanríkisþjónustan er alltaf á vaktinni; þegar sólin sest í New York rennur upp nýr dagur í Tókýó.<br /> <br /> Í dag mun ég jafnframt undirrita þjónustusamning utanríkisráðuneytisins og Íslandsstofu. Þar með verður að veruleika þjónustuborð atvinnulífsins sem Íslandsstofa hefur umsjón með. Þangað getur atvinnulífið sótt sér upplýsingar um möguleika á stuðningi við atvinnuþróunarverkefni í þróunarlöndunum og víðar. Einnig geta fyrirtækin fengið þar stuðning og leiðsögn um hvernig koma mætti hugmyndum í framkvæmd.<br /> <br /> Heimsbyggðin öll fæst nú við afleiðingar farsóttarinnar, bæði heilsufarslegar og efnahagslegar. Það er morgunljóst að taka mun mörg ár að vinna úr þeim flóknu áskorunum sem kórónuveirunni fylgja. Og einmitt þess vegna hefur aldrei verið mikilvægara að snúa bökum saman og fara öll í sóknina á útivelli.</span></p> <p><span><em>Greinin birtist í Fréttablaðinu 15. október 2020</em></span></p>
29. september 2020Blá ör til hægriÁvarp utanríkis- og þróunarsamvinnuráðherra á 75. allsherjarþingi Sameinuðu þjóðanna<p><span>75 United Nations General Assembly<br /> Speech by<br /> H.E. Mr. Guðlaugur Þór Þórðarson<br /> Minister for Foreign Affairs and Development of Iceland<br /> </span></p> <p><span>Mr President, Excellencies, ladies, and gentlemen,<br /> <br /> Let me start by thanking the UN Secretary-General, for his leadership in these difficult times. I also express gratitude to the dedicated staff of this organization, often working in very challenging circumstances, for their commitment and courage.&nbsp;<br /> <br /> The international community comes together for the 75th anniversary of the United Nations under exceptional circumstances - amid a global crisis.&nbsp;<br /> <br /> Iceland is fully committed to support the global response to the COVID-19 pandemic. We have contributed to the Global Humanitarian Response Plan, to the UN Response and Recovery Fund and to several other initiatives, including the development, distribution, and fair and equal access to a possible vaccine for every country.&nbsp;<br /> <br /> This crisis will have long-term implications for our economies and societies, pushing millions of peoples further behind, not least the most vulnerable. We must, therefore, redouble our collective efforts and pursue the Sustainable Development Goals with vigour.<br /> <br /> Mr. President,<br /> <br /> The pandemic has revealed that our fate is interlinked with the successes and failures of others. This very same revelation brought the founders of this great organisation together in 1945, after having lived through the horrors of two world wars. They understood then, as we must now, that we are stronger together than apart.&nbsp;&nbsp;<br /> <br /> This notion is evident to a small state like Iceland, but larger states also gain from a well-functioning international rules-based order: peace, prosperity and partnerships for our people and planet. For the gravest challenges we face today can only be addressed collectively.<br /> <br /> The current situation provides us with a perspective. Even if we still have a long way to go, we have witnessed significant achievements over the past 75 years. States have gained their independence, women have gained agency, more parents see their children grow up to become healthy adults, and millions have risen from poverty. Wild polio has recently been eradicated in Africa, a welcome sign of hope in the context of today’s challenges. By most measures, we have been living in times of unprecedented prosperity, something we now know, should not be taken for granted.<br /> <br /> It is critical that we fight to maintain and improve the multilateral system and oppose/question those who seek to undermine it.&nbsp; We must ensure that our institutions, actions and tools are fit for purpose – so that the system can continue to serve all of us. The Secretary-General's ongoing reform agenda has our full support.&nbsp;<br /> <br /> Mr. President,<br /> <br /> The greatest challenge of our time can only be addressed through joint efforts. Climate action needs to be at the heart of our efforts as we build back better and greener after the pandemic. The Paris Agreement is the global baseline, and Iceland is fully committed to its implementation. To build back greener, we need to make full use of science, innovation, and positive financial stimulus for the full participation of the private sector.<br /> <br /> Iceland's new climate action plan, released earlier this summer, goes even further than was agreed in Paris. Our goal is to achieve 35% reduction in greenhouse gas emissions by 2030 and full carbon neutrality by 2040.&nbsp;<br /> <br /> Sustainable management of natural resources and the use of renewable energy will be instrumental if we are to combat climate change. That includes the sustainable use of our oceans, a major carbon sink, continuously threatened by climate change, pollution, and mismanagement. Here, international law, namely the Law of the Sea, provides the foundation for action that should be based firmly in science. Iceland will continue to share its expertise in these fields through our development cooperation, public-private partnerships and our capacity-building programs, run under the auspices of UNESCO.&nbsp;<br /> <br /> Mr. President,<br /> <br /> As we embark on a Decade of Action, we need to be firmly focused on advancing gender equality -&nbsp; not only as a fundamental human right - but also as critical for&nbsp; accelerated progress so that&nbsp; individuals and nations can prosper and reach their full potential.&nbsp; The slow progress on Sustainable Development Goal 5 on gender equality is therefore deeply worrying, not least as we risk losing a generation or more of gains due to the current crisis.<br /> <br /> We must act now to ensure the full and equal participation of women in economic and political life, access to education, essential health services, and fight against sexual and gender-based violence. Iceland is therefore committed to contributing in a meaningful way as a co-leader of the Generation Equality Action Coalition on gender-based violence.<br /> <br /> <br /> Mr. President,&nbsp;<br /> <br /> Growing nationalism, racism, religious intolerance, and homophobia will continue to undermine human rights and fundamental freedoms if we do not fight to reverse this trend. It is of major concern when the most powerful are ambivalent, even hostile, to the enjoyment of universal human rights by all. UN Members States must speak up and act when human rights are set aside or violated, and not hesitate to use the legal, economic, and political tools we have at our disposal.&nbsp;<br /> <br /> In the past year, I have had the honour to meet many brave women and men who risk their life and freedom to call out their governments for violation of human rights and fundamental freedom. It is our duty to support and protect these human rights defenders and allow their voices to be heard. We must also protect media freedom, which has come under grave threat in too many countries around the world. Human rights underpin democratic and prosperous societies – which in turn are the fundamental basis for international stability and peace.<br /> <br /> As a member of the UN Human Rights Council in 2018 and 2019, Iceland made an effort to demonstrate that all nations, also the smallest among us, can use their voice effectively to speak out for those suppressed or silenced. The experience was both encouraging and empowering, since most UN Member States belong to that group of smaller or mid-size countries.&nbsp;<br /> <br /> The Human Rights Council is not without faults and shortcomings. We have been critical of the Council’s membership, and the apparent desire by those with less than stellar human rights records to consistently undermine the integrity of the Council. We have also pushed for reform of the council and its working methods.&nbsp;<br /> <br /> Member States serving on the Council should never lose sight of its main mission and purpose – to protect and promote universal human rights. They should call out violators and hold them accountable and be open to constructive criticism and cooperation, rather than seek refuge behind rhetoric of politicization.&nbsp;<br /> <br /> With this in mind, and on the basis of the experience of our recent membership of the Human Rights Council, Iceland has decided to run for a seat on the Council for the term 2025-2027.&nbsp;<br /> <br /> Mr President&nbsp;<br /> <br /> Let me thank the Secretary-General for his leadership in calling for a global ceasefire; a call which all nations should support, not least those that hold power to influence the situation on the ground.&nbsp;<br /> <br /> The ongoing efforts to find political and peaceful solutions to the crisis in Syria, Yemen, and Libya must continue with full backing of those involved. The Middle East Peace Process also needs to be reinvigorated as the current stagnation on both sides only serves to deepen existing disagreements, moving us further away from the two-state solution.&nbsp;<br /> <br /> Closer to my own place of home, in Europe, the persistent unlawful violation by Russia of the sovereignty and territorial integrity of Ukraine and Georgia continues to undermine peace and stability, and recent developments in Belarus give cause for major concern.<br /> <br /> The Security Council carries special responsibilities for the maintenance of international peace and security on behalf of the wider UN membership. The Council, not least some of its permanent members, need to act in accordance with the UN charter, instead of being motivated by narrow political gains in a zero-sum game, undermining the credibility of this vital body.&nbsp;<br /> <br /> <br /> Mr President,<br /> <br /> "The UN was not created to take mankind into paradise but rather to save humanity from hell", former Secretary-General Dag Hammarskjöld famously once said.&nbsp;<br /> <br /> As we celebrate the 75th Anniversary of the United Nations, we should be mindful that this organization has been a catalyst for human development and progress. And it is the most significant peace project of our times.&nbsp;<br /> <br /> The UN remains the only international body equipped to bring together different nationalities, political ideologies, and religions, for the common good.&nbsp;<br /> <br /> Its shortcomings can neither serve as an excuse for disengagement nor for the promotion of national interests above the pursuit of our common wellbeing and prosperity.<br /> <br /> Too many seek to apply the principles and values of the UN Charter selectively, tilting the balance between rights and responsibilities – in international trade, rule of law, human rights, disarmament and in preventing conflicts and atrocities.<br /> <br /> Our organisations and institutions should never serve or shelter those who seek to undermine the basic principles of the international rule-based order, which we have all subscribed to, including the UN Charter and the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.<br /> <br /> It remains, that what we see is our own making. That is why, we need to use the current crisis and the 75th anniversary to reinvigorate our cooperation, build trust and make our institutions more effective and resilient, for today and tomorrow.<br /> <br /> We should reconfirm our commitment to the principles of the UN Charter, international law, and the liberal international order.&nbsp;<br /> <br /> We should stand up for these principles when they are being pushed aside.&nbsp;<br /> <br /> We should make our institutions more open, transparent, and inclusive.&nbsp;<br /> <br /> We should reform, not rewrite or retreat.&nbsp;<br /> For only together we can build the future we want, and the UN we need.&nbsp;</span></p> <p><span><em>Vegna kórónuveirufaraldursins var myndbandsupptaka með ávarpinu flutt á allsherjarþinginu, íslenskir ráðamenn sóttu ekki þingið að þessu sinni.</em></span></p> <div>&nbsp;</div>
25. september 2020Blá ör til hægriÁvarp á fundi bandalags til stuðnings fjölþjóðakerfinu (Alliance for Multilateralism)<p><span>Dear friends,<br /> <br /> The High Level week of the UN General Assembly takes place in the shadow of the COVID-19 pandemic, which has had a profound effect on this year‘s gathering. It may also set us back several years in our collective quest for a more just, prosperous and peaceful world.<br /> One lesson we can draw from the past few months, is that we must not take successful multilateral cooperation for granted.&nbsp;<br /> <br /> As we celebrate the 75th anniversary of the UN, we must remind ourselves that while the multilateral system may not be perfect it has certainly been better than none at all. Let’s not lose sight of that important truth.<br /> <br /> We should also acknowledge that international organizations must be able to adapt and reform according to the times. It is important that multilateralism address the problems of the moment, and of the future, not of the past.&nbsp;<br /> <br /> So let us approach the task at hand as an opportunity, and commit ourselves to build back better – in a spirit of solidarity and cooperation.<br /> <br /> I want to address specifically one aspect of today‘s meeting agenda: that of gender equality.<br /> Together we need to redouble our efforts to reach our goals and global commitments on gender equality. While doing so, it is vital that we consider the complex challenges and risk of setbacks due to the Covid19 pandemic.<br /> <br /> Iceland is proud to have recently been chosen to co-lead the action coalition on gender-based violence for UN Women’s Generation Equality Forum. This initiative will launch a set of concrete and ambitious actions to achieve progress towards gender equality.<br /> <br /> As we celebrate the 75th birthday of the United Nations we can also look back at progress made as a result of resolution 1325.&nbsp;<br /> <br /> One of the fundamental aspects of this resolution is women’s participation at all levels of decision making. We need to make sure that we are not only counting numbers. Women must have the opportunity to participate in an active and meaningful way. In all peace processes, peace-keeping and peace-building operations, we should consistently be asking “where are the women?”.<br /> <br /> At the same time, and this is a broader reflection, we need to push for a change of social norms. But for us to be successful in this endeavor we must engage men in our efforts. Disproportionally, men occupy positions of power and it is therefore so important that they become agents of change.</span></p> <p><span>Iceland has systematically encouraged the participation of men and boys in this debate, as underpinned by Iceland’s active role in the HeForShe campaign of UN Women, and the development of the Barbershop concept: a project that aims to engage men in this important conversation.&nbsp;<br /> </span></p> <p><span>In closing, I would like to call on all the members of the United Nations to work with us to participate in a meaningful way in ensuring that the multilateral system continues to be a platform for all nations to work together towards our common goals.&nbsp;<br /> </span></p> <p><span>And let us remember that gender equality and women’s full participation is a significant contributor in strengthening the multilateral system.&nbsp;<br /> </span></p> <p><span>Thank you.<br /> </span></p>
24. september 2020Blá ör til hægriÁvarp á hliðarviðburði UNGA75 um málefni hinsegin fólks<p><span>Let me first say how happy I am to be able to address this side-event today, organized by the UN LGBTI Core Group.<br /> </span></p> <p><span>Iceland was proud to be able to finally join the Core Group earlier this year, along with Nepal. We aim to do our very best to contribute to the work of the Group – while at the same time advancing even further the rights of LGBTI persons at home, where our work is not yet complete, despite great progress in recent years.<br /> &nbsp;<br /> I see human rights as a cornerstone of Iceland´s foreign policy.&nbsp;</span>I also believe that if we are to achieve the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, with the ultimate goal of “Leaving No One Behind”, we must guarantee the non-discrimination and equality of all, including persons belonging to LGBTI communities around the world.&nbsp;</p> <p><span>We must remove all stigmatization and institutional prejudices and ensure LGBTI persons can enjoy their fundamental freedoms and dignity wherever they are.&nbsp;Challenges still remain. Many countries have yet to even remove legal biases against LGBTI persons – casting a long and heavy shadow on their existence.&nbsp;</span></p> <p><span>But we should not forget that we have come a long way and what we need to do now is redouble our efforts, thus creating that circle of virtue so very necessary to make it to the next level.</span></p> <p><span>In that effort the UN LGBTI Core Group will play a key role and I therefore take this opportunity to pay tribute to your work.<br /> </span></p> <p><span>Thank you for allowing me to be with you today.<br /> </span></p> <div>&nbsp;</div>
18. september 2020Blá ör til hægriEqual pay for an equitable future <p><span>The gender pay gap is a global consequence of various inequalities women face in access to work and career progression. Gender barriers persist, and laws and regulations continue to restrict women’s economic decision making and employment prospects. In fact, the gender pay gap is estimated to be around 20 per cent globally, although variable in size, it is persistent in all countries. We have seen some progress in recent years, but the pace of change is very slow.&nbsp;<br /> <br /> Therefore, it is important that we can today celebrate the first International Equal Pay Day.<br /> <br /> Iceland is proud to have contributed to the establishment of the International Equal Pay Day with other states in the Equal Pay International Coalition, first through a resolution that was passed in the Human Rights Council, and then subsequently by the United Nations General Assembly in New York. Putting focus on this important topic by dedicating 18 September as the International Equal Pay Day gives us an opportunity to highlight the importance of equal work for equal pay, especially with consideration to the impact of the COVID19 pandemic.<br /> <br /> Under these circumstances we have seen how the pandemic, with its grave health consequences, has put a spotlight on workers in the frontlines. Challenging working conditions have been exacerbated by the pandemic, and women are immensely affected by this. We are also looking at an economic fallout of unprecedented proportions, with disproportionate repercussions for women’s economic empowerment, their work, and livelihoods. Bearing this in mind, Iceland will promote safe and meaningful participation, influence, and leadership of women and girls in the immediate response to COVID19.<br /> <br /> At a time like this there is a risk that progress in closing the gender pay gap may be delayed or even reversed. However, this is a time where progress is most needed. We must be vigilant and keep the conversation moving forward.<br /> <br /> In Iceland, we remain committed in our efforts in closing the gender pay gap. To ensure equal pay for work of equal value our current legislation was developed in cooperation with the business sector and labour movement.&nbsp;<br /> <br /> We want to lead by example and encourage the international community to look at ways to adopt and enforce policies that treat women and men equally.</span></p> <p><em>Þetta erindi birtist á <a href="https://www.womenpoliticalleaders.org/international-equal-pay-day-equal-pay-for-an-equal-world/">vef samtakanna Women Political Leaders </a>í tilefni af alþjóðlegum jafnlaunadegi 18. september.&nbsp;</em></p>
11. september 2020Blá ör til hægriInnlegg á fjarfundi Norðurlandanna um lýðræði og mannréttindi á okkar tímum<p><span><br /> Perspectives of Democracy, Human Rights and the Rule of Law on the Covid-19 Pandemic<br /> <br /> Thank you for giving me the floor.&nbsp;<br /> <br /> And allow me to thank Ann Linde and Sweden for arranging this discussion today on human rights in the time of COVID; but also more broadly for embarking on your ‘drive for democracy’.&nbsp;<br /> <br /> You can rest assured that you have Iceland´s support going forward.<br /> <br /> The Universal Declaration of Human Rights clearly stipulates that we are all, every one of us, entitled to certain rights and freedoms – regardless of our race or colour or sex or religion or our place of birth.&nbsp;<br /> <br /> This was true prior to the COVID-19-Pandemic and it is true today.&nbsp;<br /> <br /> Unfortunately, there have always been those that violate these rights, who seek to strip their fellow human beings of their freedom and equality and their dignity and rights.<br /> <br /> The current state of affairs, in this Covid-19 world of ours, unfortunately provides an opportunity for such actors to renew or increase their human rights violations.&nbsp;<br /> However, we are not just talking about governments and political leaders putting growing limitations on media, civic space and freedom of expression but also ordinary people´s daily lives.&nbsp;<br /> <br /> To mention just one example, the UN has warned that gender-based violence, particularly in the home, has surged around the world as COVID-19 lockdowns became necessary.&nbsp;<br /> Gender equality has for long been a policy priority for us in Iceland, both locally and internationally. We strive to put gender equality at the top of the agenda wherever we speak.&nbsp;<br /> We are therefore very proud of the fact that Iceland was recently chosen to lead one of the Action Coalitions of the Generation Equality initiatives – and we are looking forward to the challenge of leading from the front on that important initiative.<br /> <br /> Overall, my response to the challenges we face is simply this: we must re-double our efforts to safeguard and strengthen human rights. Not allow the present vacuum to fester, given everyone´s preoccupation with fighting the virus.<br /> <br /> Iceland will certainly continue to be a vocal advocate for human rights.&nbsp;<br /> <br /> During our recent membership of the UN Human Rights Council we spearheaded the first Joint Statement on the human rights situation in Saudi Arabia. We also put human rights violations in the Philippines on the agenda of the Council, an important initiative given the serious situation there.<br /> <br /> We have been vocal on recent events in Belarus, the assassination attempt against the Russian opposition leader Alexey Navalny, the weakening of LGBT-rights in Hungary and on civil rights and democracy in Hong Kong. And we will remain committed to the cause of freedom and democracy everywhere as we go forward.&nbsp;<br /> <br /> The Nordic countries have a unique voice and are in a unique situation to be advocates for human rights, civil liberties and democracy. Our ideals and our solidarity are and will be key to our success. Our reputation is solid and respected around the world and we must use that – we should be even bolder than we are to call out those that violate human rights around the world.&nbsp;<br /> <br /> Ladies and gentlemen,<br /> <br /> Iceland was until this year the smallest country to be elected to the Human Rights Council. But the power of your advocacy and the wisdom of your words has nothing to do with the number of your citizens or the size of your country.&nbsp;<br /> <br /> The only thing that matters is if you have something to say that needs to be said, and if you can bring others along with you. In that sense, our recent initiatives have made me very proud because it has been very clear that our voice has been heard.<br /> <br /> I can only hope it has inspired other smaller countries to stand up for human rights – because we need human rights champions of all sizes, big and small.&nbsp;<br /> <br /> Thank you.</span></p> <p><span><em>Ávarpið var flutt á umræðufundi um lýðræði og mannréttindi á tímum COVID sem&nbsp; utanríkisráðherrar norrænu ríkjanna tóku þátt í ásamt Michelle Bachelet, mannréttindafulltrúi Sameinuðu þjóðanna, Marija Pejčinović Burić, framkvæmdastjóri Evrópuráðsins, Audrey Azoulay, framkvæmdastjóri Menningarmálastofnunar Sameinuðu þjóðanna (UNESCO) og fleirum.&nbsp;</em></span></p> <div>&nbsp;</div> <p><span><br /> <br /> </span></p>
11. september 2020Blá ör til hægriMannréttindi og lýðræði eru lykillinn að því að enginn verði út undan í baráttunni gegn COVID-19<p><span>COVID-19 heimsfaraldurinn skapar hættu á að sú öfugþróun sem hefur verið á alþjóðavísu gegn lýðræði og minnkandi virðingu fyrir mannréttindum verði hraðari. Faraldurinn magnar upp þann ójöfnuð sem fyrir hendi er og kemur harðast niður á þeim sem þegar eru jaðarsettir, undirokaðir af mismunun og lifa í fátækt.<br /> <br /> Norrænu ríkisstjórnirnar tala fyrir alþjóðlegri samvinnu, samstöðu, mannréttindum og lýðræði í baráttunni gegn heimsfaraldrinum. Of róttækar ráðstafanir geta haft alvarlegar og víðtækar afleiðingar á mannréttindi og meginreglur lýðræðisins. Við höfum áhyggjur af því að tilteknar ríkisstjórnir notfæri sér ástandið og noti heimsfaraldurinn sem yfirskin til að brjóta gegn mannréttindum, þrengja að lýðræðinu og endurskilgreina gildandi leikreglur á alþjóðavettvangi.<br /> <br /> Sem betur fer höfum við séð alþjóðasamfélagið bregðast við. Aðaframkvæmdastjóri Sameinuðu þjóðanna, Antonio Guterres, hefur staðið í fararbroddi með því að kalla eftir alþjóðlegu vopnahléi til að milda áhrif heimsfaraldursins, og með því að setja mannréttindi á oddinn. Stofnanir Sameinuðu þjóðanna á sviði mannréttinda, mannúðaraðstoðar og þróunarsamvinnu, sem og Alþjóðaheilbrigðismálastofnunin, hafa gegnt forystuhlutverki í því að takast á við mikilvægar áskoranir vegna COVID-19.<br /> <br /> Til að styðja við slíka viðleitni leitast ríkisstjórnir Norðurlanda við að tryggja að mannréttindi, lýðræði, réttarríkið og kynjajafnrétti verði nú þegar þungamiðjan í varanlegum viðbrögðum um allan heim. Uppbyggingin verður að vera betri og umhverfisvænni og við erum reiðubúin að taka forystuna í því að styrkja alþjóðlega samvinnu á komandi árum.<br /> <br /> Til að svo megi verða þarf fernt til:<br /> <br /> Við verðum að virkja alþjóðasamfélagið - COVID-19 heimsfaraldurinn er kreppa fyrir mannkynið sem stefnir hraðbyri í að breytast í mannréttindakreppu. Alþjóðasamfélagið hefur með heimsmarkmiðunum um sjálfbæra þróun skuldbundið sig að skilja engan eftir. Við verðum að standa við þessa skuldbindingu og tryggja að allar ráðstafanir gegn faraldrinum virði mannréttindi.<br /> <br /> Við verðum að tryggja gagnsæi og aðgang að áreiðanlegum upplýsingum. Það verður að vernda og styrkja raddir sjálfstæðra fjölmiðla og borgarasamfélagsins, þar með talið þá sem verja mannréttindi. Árvekni þeirra og umfjöllun munu stuðla að því að ríkisstjórnir verði látnar sæta ábyrgð. Það er einnig brýnt að verjast villandi upplýsingum og áróðri og vinna náið með fjölmiðlum, tæknifyrirtækjum og einkageiranum ásamt borgarasamfélagi og öðrum haghöfum.<br /> <br /> Við verðum að tryggja að horft sé til kynjajafnréttissjónarmiða í viðbrögðum um heim allan. Heimsfaraldurinn hefur verið tengdur við aukið kynferðislegt og kynbundið ofbeldi og aðra skaðlega hegðun. Einnig hefur ástandið versnað til muna með tilliti til kynheilbrigðis og -réttinda fyrir alla, svo sem nútíma getnaðarvarna, öruggra og löglegra fóstureyðinga og ítarlegrar kynfræðslu.<br /> <br /> Ekki má nota álagið sem COVID-19 skapar fyrir heilbrigðiskerfi sem afsökun fyrir því að hindra konur og stúlkur að því að nota þjónustu á sviði kynheilbrigði og -réttinda. Við stöndum saman í því að leiðrétta kerfislæga mismunun og munum halda áfram að styrkja efnahagslega og stjórnmálalega valdeflingu kvenna og full og jöfn mannréttindi þeirra, þar með talið kynheilbrigði og -réttindi.<br /> <br /> Loks verðum við að vera á verði og tryggja að alþjóðlegir staðlar og meginreglur breytist ekki. Engin viðbrögð við COVID-19 mega grafa undan alþjóðalögum, lýðræðinu eða stofnunum þess.<br /> <br /> Nú er tíminn til að grípa til aðgerða til að vernda og styrkja alþjóðakerfið og þær reglur sem það byggist á. Fjölþjóðastofnanirnar þurfa stjórnmálalegan og fjárhagslegan stuðning. Einnig þarf að styrkja traust almennings til lýðræðisins og stofnana þess.<br /> <br /> Í dag höfum við rætt við leiðandi fulltrúa Sameinuðu þjóðanna, Evrópusambandsins, Evrópuráðsins, Menningarmálastofnunar Sameinuðu þjóðanna, Öryggis- og samvinnustofnunar Evrópu og borgarasamfélagsins. Saman fylgjum við orðum okkar eftir með aðgerðum, tökum forystuna í því að tryggja að mannréttindi, lýðræði, réttarríkið og kynjajafnrétti séu þungamiðjan í viðbrögðum og endurreisninni um heim allan.<br /> <br /> Við erum reiðubúin að deila reynslu Norðurlandanna af því að byggja upp traust með því að sameina forystu, gagnsæi og samvinnu milli stofnana ríkis og sveitarfélaga annars vegar og borgarasamfélagsins hins vegar. Við erum einnig reiðubúin að láta raddir okkar heyrast og nota reynslu okkar þegar mannréttindum, lýðræði, réttarríkinu og kynjajafnrétti er ógnað.<br /> <br /> Viðbrögðin við heimsfaraldrinum mega ekki leiða til veikara lýðræðis eða mannréttindabrota. Þvert á móti er lýðræðisleg nálgun á grundvelli kynjajafnréttis og mannréttinda lykillinn í baráttunni við COVID-19 og í að hrinda í framkvæmd áætluninni um sjálfbæra þróun fyrir árið 2030.<br /> <br /> Guðlaugur Þór Þórðarson utanríkis- og þróunarsamvinnuráðherra<br /> Jeppe Kofod utanríkisráðherra Danmerkur<br /> Rasmus Prehn þróunarsamvinnuráðherra Danmerkur<br /> Pekka Haavisto utanríkisráðherra Finnlands<br /> Ville Skinnari þróunarsamvinnu- og utanríkisviðskiptaráðherra Finnlands<br /> Ine Eriksen Søreide utanríkisráðherra Noregs<br /> Dag-Inge Ulstein þróunarsamvinnuráðherra Noregs<br /> Ann Linde utanríkisráðherra Svíþjóðar<br /> Peter Eriksson þróunarsamvinnuráðherra Svíþjóðar</span></p> <p><span><em>Greinin birtist á vef Fréttablaðsins og víðar á Norðurlöndum 11. september 2020</em></span></p>
04. september 2020Blá ör til hægriRæða utanríkisráðherra fyrir hönd Norðurlanda á sérstökum fundi öryggisráðs Sameinuðu þjóðanna um Hvíta-Rússland<p><span>Nordic Joint Statement<br /> <br /> Issued by Minister for Foreign Affairs of Iceland, Guðlaugur Þór Þórðarson, on the occasion of Arria formula meeting in United Nation Security Council&nbsp;on the human rights situation in Belarus&nbsp;<br /> <br /> 4 September 2020<br /> <br /> Your excellency,<br /> <br /> Members of the Security Council,<br /> <br /> I have the pleasure to deliver this statement on behalf of the Nordic countries, Denmark, Finland, Norway, Sweden and my own country, Iceland.&nbsp;<br /> <br /> We welcome today’s opportunity to discuss the human rights situation in Belarus following the presidential election of 9 August 2020.&nbsp;<br /> <br /> I would like to initially thank the briefers for their insightful and first-hand remarks about the situation.&nbsp;&nbsp;<br /> <br /> The recent election in Belarus was neither free nor fair. Prior to the election, we witnessed with deep concern the detention of prospective candidates and irregularities related to candidate registration. Despite repeated calls, the lack of a timely, as well as unconditional, invitation to observe the presidential election led to the absence of independent international elections observers.</span></p> <p><span><br /> The use of widespread violence against peaceful demonstrators, journalists and other media workers, in the aftermath of the election was deeply troubling. The desire of the people of Belarus to be respected and heard in free and fair elections is a legitimate demand. The situation called for the Belarusian authorities to address the legitimate protests of the people and enter into genuine and inclusive dialogue. Instead, we witnessed indiscriminate and unjustified arrests and violence against demonstrators, journalists and other media workers. We cannot stand idly by and hesitate in our criticism, when faced with such grave human rights violations and restrictions of freedoms. We will address the situation in the UN Human Rights Council.</span></p> <p><span><br /> The Belarusian authorities must release all unlawfully detained persons, including those detained on political grounds. We are deeply alarmed by the criminal cases opened against the Coordination Council, as well as the intimidation and detention of its members. We call for a thorough, independent and transparent investigation into the allegations of torture and other ill-treatment of people under detention. All perpetrators of human rights violations must be held accountable. This will be crucial in order to address the post-election grievances and achieve reconciliation. We urge the Belarusian authorities to engage with the current and incoming OSCE chairpersonship in facilitating an inclusive and national dialogue in the country.&nbsp;<br /> <br /> Your excellency,</span></p> <p><span></span>We respect the Belarusian people’s right to choose their own path. Free and independent media and a strong civil society are the fundamental ingredients to provide sustainable solutions to the crisis in Belarus. There is no reason to be afraid of genuine democratic debate. The voices of the people of Belarus need to be heard and taken into account.&nbsp;</p> <p><span>In closing, we support all efforts to peacefully end the crisis, and we will continue to support a democratic, independent, sovereign, prosperous and stable Belarus.&nbsp;<br /> </span></p> <p><span>Thank you.<br /> <br /> </span></p>
18. ágúst 2020Blá ör til hægriAftur í skólann í miðjum heimsfaraldri - Menntun fyrir alla, alltaf og alls staðar<p><span>Tilhlökkun fylgir fyrsta skóladegi nýs skólaárs, yfirleitt blönduð kvíða og eftirvæntingu vegna ársins sem framundan er. Vegna COVID-19 heimsfaraldursins var skólum lokað í skyndi og því hefur það sérstaka þýðingu „að fara aftur í skólann“ þetta haustið. Norrænir nemendur eru lánsamir enda þótt ekki sé víst að þeir kunni að meta það að vera dregnir á fætur til að koma sér í skólann.&nbsp;</span></p> <p><span>Ráðstafanir til að hefta framrás COVID-19 leiddu til þess í apríl að skólum var lokað fyrir 1,6 milljarði barna og ungmenna eða um 90% af heildarfjölda nemenda í heiminum öllum. Þessi fjöldi bætist við þær 250 milljónir barna sem voru ekki í skóla áður en heimsfaraldurinn hóf innreið sína. Yfirvofandi efnahagssamdráttur á heimsvísu og aukin fátækt vegna heimsfaraldursins gætu leitt til þess að nærri tíu milljónir barna neyðist til að hætta alveg í skóla fyrir árslok og milljónir munu verða eftir á í námi. Með því að fara ekki í skólann tapast líka skólamáltíðir; nærri 350 milljónir barna missa einu heitu máltíðina sem þau fá daglega.&nbsp;</span></p> <p><span>Truflun á námi hefur alvarlegar langtímaafleiðingar, einkum fyrir viðkvæmustu hópana, t.d. stúlkur, flóttafólk, vegalaus börn og farandbörn og þá sem lifa með fötlun. Fyrir þessa hópa er menntun oft líflína. Heimssjóðurinn Education Cannot Wait, sem sinnir menntun í neyðarástandi, veitir börnum þar sem krísuástand ríkir aðgang að menntun, með stuðningi allra Norðurlandanna. Enn fremur hafa Menningarmálastofnun Sameinuðu þjóðanna (UNESCO), Barnahjálp Sameinuðu þjóðanna (UNICEF), Alþjóðabankinn og alþjóðasamstarf um menntun (e. <em>Global Partnership for Education</em>) unnið að þessu verkefni.</span></p> <p><span>Við þurfum að tryggja jöfn tækifæri til menntunar fyrir alla. Einkum fyrir stúlkur sem eru tvisvar sinnum líklegri til að hætta í skóla á stöðum þar sem átök standa yfir og í kjölfar þeirra og þurfa almennt að yfirstíga fleiri hindranir til að njóta menntunar en drengir. Þegar skólum er lokað eykst hættan á að stúlkur verði fyrir heimilisofbeldi, séu þvingaðar í hjónabönd snemma og verði þungaðar á unglingsaldri. Því er sérlega mikilvægt að tryggja að stúlkur snúi aftur í skólann þegar hann opnar á ný.&nbsp;</span></p> <p><span>Grunnþjónusta á borð við rennandi vatn og hreinlætisráðstafanir er mikilvægur þáttur í því að tryggja að hægt sé að opna skólana aftur með öruggum hætti. Við þurfum líka að finna nýjar kennsluleiðir, t.d. í gegnum netið. Eins og er hefur um helmingur af íbúum heimsins ekki aðgang að netinu. Við þurfum stafrænar lausnir og betri tengingar til að hægt sé að ná til allra barna. Fólk án nettengingar er fjölmennast í þeim löndum sem eru skemmst á veg komin í þróun, einkum Afríkulöndunum sunnan Sahara og í löndum Suður-Asíu. Við fögnum því framtaki Barnahjálpar Sameinuðu þjóðanna að sjá 500 milljónum barna fyrir stafrænni kennslu fyrir lok næsta árs og 3,5 milljörðum barna eigi síðar en 2030, auk þess að nettengja alla skóla í heiminum. Þetta verður mikil áskorun þar sem engan má skilja eftir.<br /> <br /> Á þessum erfiðu tímum er mikilvægt að standa vörð um fjárframlög til menntunar á meðan COVID-19 krísan stendur yfir og auka, þar sem hægt er, opinber framlög til menntunar til að tryggja að öll börn hafi ókeypis aðgang að góðri menntun eigi síðar en 2030 í samræmi við heimsmarkmiðin um sjálfbæra þróun. Við á Norðurlöndunum skuldbindum okkur áfram til að leggja fjármagn til menntunar í gegnum þróunarsamvinnu okkar.</span></p> <p><span>Í heiminum í dag er menntun grundvallarundirstaða í lífinu, óháð því hvaðan fólk kemur. Fjárfesting í menntun er fjárfesting í friðsælum og efnahagslega samkeppnishæfum jafnréttissamfélögum. Við, ráðherrar Norðurlandanna, trúum á menntun fyrir alla, alltaf og alls staðar.&nbsp;</span></p> <p>Allir í skólann!&nbsp;</p> <p><span>Peter Eriksson, ráðherra alþjóðlegrar þróunarsamvinnu, Svíþjóð&nbsp;&nbsp;<br /> Rasmus Prehn, ráðherra þróunarsamvinnu, Danmörku<br /> Ville Skinnari, ráðherra þróunarsamvinnu og utanríkisviðskipta, Finnlandi<br /> Dag-Inge Ulstein, ráðherra alþjóðlegra þróunarmála, Noregi&nbsp;<br /> Guðlaugur Þór Þórðarson, utanríkis- og þróunarsamvinnuráðherra</span></p> <p><span><em>Greinin birtist í Fréttablaðinu og fleiri norrænum fjölmiðlum 18. ágúst 2020</em></span></p> <div>&nbsp;</div>
23. júlí 2020Blá ör til hægriSaman á útvelli<p>Frjáls alþjóðleg viðskipti eru undirstaða hagsældar á Íslandi. Öll njótum við ávinnings af viðskiptafrelsi hvort sem um ræðir aukið vöruval og lækkað verð til neytenda eða fjölgun starfa og auknar skatttekjur ríkisins frá fyrirtækjum sem selja vörur og þjónustu á erlenda markaði nær og fjær. Lífskjör Íslendinga byggjast á frjálsum vöru- og þjónustuviðskiptum og fjölmörg störf í landinu eru tengd utanríkisviðskiptum með einum eða öðrum hætti. Eitt meginhlutverk utanríkisþjónustunnar hefur frá upphafi verið að undirbúa jarðveginn á erlendum mörkuðum fyrir stórhuga fyrirtæki og frumkvöðla. Þannig hefur það verið allt frá upphafsárum fullveldisins þegar fyrsta íslenska sendiráðið var opnað, íslenskir viðskiptaerindrekar tóku sín fyrstu skref og viðskiptasamningar við önnur ríki litu dagsins ljós. Hlutverk utanríkisþjónustunnar er þannig bæði að koma á viðskiptasamninga og annast framkvæmd þeirra.</p> <h2>Sköpum ný störf</h2> <p> Á undanförnum mánuðum höfum við verið rækilega minnt á það hversu mikið við Íslendingar eigum undir frjálsum milliríkjaviðskiptum, vöruflutningum og frjálsum fólksflutningum. Viðbrögð við heimsfaraldrinum hafa leitt af sér hindranir sem flest okkar voru búin að gleyma og hin höfðu aldrei upplifað. Almannavarnir eru forgangsmál við þessar aðstæður en það getur engum dulist að efnahagsleg áhrif af þeim ráðstöfunum sem ríki heims hafa gripið til verða djúpstæð og skóinn mun kreppa mjög verulega. Eina leiðin út úr þeim þrengingum er aukin verðmætasköpun, að skapa ný störf í stað þeirra tapast. Til þess að svo megi verða þurfa stjórnvöld og atvinnulíf að ganga í takt.</p> <h2>Í þágu útflutnings</h2> <p><strong></strong>Á þessum grundvelli ákvað ég í vor að setja stuðning við íslenskan útflutning í forgang hjá utanríkisþjónustunni og skipaði ég sérstakan starfshóp til að vinna tillögur um það hvernig auka mætti stuðning við útflutning á íslenskri vöru og þjónustu í kjölfar heimsfaraldursins. Starfshópurinn vann hratt og vel og í síðasta mánuði lágu tillögur hans fyrir í 12 liðum. Tillögurnar má í grófum dráttum flokka í fernt.</p> <ul> <li>Í fyrsta lagi eru tillögur sem lúta að beinum stuðningi við atvinnulífið, þar sem m.a. er lagt til að tekin verði upp viðskiptavakt fyrir íslenskan útflutning sem veiti til að mynda liðsinni vegna Covid19-tengdra hindrana, að net viðskiptafulltrúa verði útvíkkað og að þjónusta þeirra verði íslenskum fyrirtækjum að kostnaðarlausu til ársloka 2021, að öll sú aðstaða sem íslenska ríkið hefur yfir að ráða erlendis standi íslenskum fyrirtækjum til boða og að stefnt skuli að því að senda að 2-3 viðskiptanefndir á okkar lykilmarkaði strax á næsta ári. </li> <li>Þá er í öðru lagi lagt til að Ísland beiti sér enn frekar í þágu fríverslunar og gegn verndarhyggju og skipi sér í flokk þeirra ríkja sem lengst vilja ganga í þeim efnum. Í þessu efni er framtíðarviðskiptasamningur við Bretland forgangsmál en á allra síðustu vikum hafa mikilvægir áfangar náðst í þeim efnum. </li> <li>Í þriðja lagi er lagt til að enn ríkari áhersla verði lögð á tengsl atvinnulífs og þróunarsamvinnu og að opnað verði sérstakt þjónustuborð hjá Íslandsstofu til að virkja íslenskt atvinnulíf enn frekar til verkefna í þróunarsamvinnu. </li> <li>Í fjórða lagi þá lúta tillögurnar að því að bæta starfshætti utanríkisþjónustunnar, þannig að hún geti betur sinnt þörfum atvinnulífsins, til að mynda með aukinni notkun stafrænnar tækni.</li> </ul> <p>Við framkvæmd þessara tillagna búum við að þeim umbótum sem gerðar hafa verið á starfsháttum utanríkisþjónustunnar síðustu misseri. Þær breytingar sem gerðar voru á Íslandstofu með nýjum lögum árið 2018 gegna hér lykilhlutverki en með þeim var búinn til farvegur til að samnýta krafta stjórnvalda og atvinnulífs til sóknar á erlenda markaði með það að markmiði að auka verðmætasköpun, skapa störf og viðhalda þeim lífskjörum sem við viljum búa við. Þessi farvegur kemur að góðum notum núna þegar við ætlum að herða enn sóknina í kjölfar heimsfaraldursins.</p> <h2>Betri aðgangur að lykilmörkuðum</h2> <p> Auk þessara skipulagsbreytinga þá búum við að því að hafa á síðustu misserum undirbúið jarðveginn þegar kemur að viðskiptasamningum við okkar mikilvægustu viðskiptaríki. Nýverið hófst tvíhliða viðskiptasamráð við bæði Bandaríkin og Japan sem vonast er til að bætist í framtíðinni við fríverslunarnet Íslands sem nær um þessar mundir til 74 ríkja og landsvæða. Sem dæmi um árangur af þeirri áherslu sem lögð hefur verið á að efla tengslin við Bandaríkin má nefna Íslandsfrumvarpið svokallaða sem var nýlega lagt fram í bandaríska þinginu. Verði frumvarpið að lögum mun það auðvelda íslenskum fyrirtækjum að senda stjórnendur og fjárfesta tímabundið til starfa í landinu. </p> <p>Íslensk stjórnvöld hafa þegar tryggt lykilhagsmuni í samstarfi og viðskiptum við Bretland þegar aðlögunartímabilinu eftir útgöngu úr EES lýkur í árslok 2020 og viðræður um framtíðarsamband ríkjanna lofa góðu. Á grundvelli fríverslunarsamnings Íslands og Kína höfum við fjölgað útflutningstækifærum til Kína með samningum um gagnkvæma viðurkenningu heilbrigðisvottorða fyrir ákveðnar landbúnaðar- og sjávarafurðir. Þá hafa verið gerðar ráðstafanir til að hámarka ávinning Íslands af EES-samningnum og aukinn kraftur settur í að ljúka samningum á vettvangi EFTA, til að mynda gagnvart Kanada.</p> <p>Því hefur verið haldið fram að við séum að upplifa fordæmalausa tíma. Heimsbyggðin hefur þó áður tekist á við farsóttir og haft betur. Heimsbyggðin hefur áður tekist á við efnahagsþrengingar og brotist til bjargráða. Af þeirri reynslu vitum við að leiðin út úr slíkum þrengingum er ekki verndarhyggja og fleiri hindranir í vegi alþjóðaviðskipta. Þvert á móti, leiðin út úr þeim þrengingum er aukin verðmætasköpun með tvíefldri sókn á erlenda markaði. Í þeim efnum er utanríkisþjónusta Íslands, nú sem aldrei fyrr, til þjónustu reiðubúin.<br /> <br /> <em>Greinin birtist fyrst í Viðskiptablaðinu 23. júlí 2020</em></p>
06. júní 2020Blá ör til hægriÞekkingarsamfélag norðurslóða á Akureyri<p>Nýverið heimsótti ég höfuðstað Norðurlands, Akureyri, þar sem ég undirritaði ásamt Eyjólfi Guðmundssyni, rektor Háskólans á Akureyri, þjónustusamning á milli Háskólans og utanríkisráðuneytisins. Þetta var einkar gleðilegt tilefni sem eftir allt sem á undan er gengið síðustu vikurnar fær aukna vigt og vægi.<br /> <br /> Með í för var hluti þingmannanefndar allra flokka sem skipuð var nýlega að mínu frumkvæði til að endurskoða norðurslóðastefnu Íslands frá árinu 2011. Tímabært var orðið að Alþingi tæki stefnu Íslands í málefnum norðurslóða til heildrænnar endurskoðunar. Starfshópur sem skoðar nú efnahagsþróun á norðurslóðum var einnig viðstaddur, en greining mögulegra efnahagstækifæra og þar með sóknarfæra á norðurslóðum er okkur mjög mikilvæg, ekki síst nú í kjölfar heimsfaraldursins. Þessum tveimur hópum gafst gott tækifæri til að kynna sér allt það góða starf og þá þekkingarmiðstöð norðurslóðamála sem byggst hefur upp á Akureyri, sem er eina sveitarfélag landsins sem nær alla leið norður fyrir heimskautsbaug.<br /> <br /> Háskólinn á Akureyri hefur um langt skeið gegnt lykilhlutverki í uppbyggingu norðurslóðasamfélagsins sem orðið er til í Eyjafirði. Samningurinn sem undirritaður var við þetta tilefni styður enn frekar við norðurslóðasamvinnu og sérfræðivinnu á meðan Ísland gegnir formennsku í Norðurskautsráðinu, en áhersla verður lögð á lýðheilsumál, málefni ungs fólks og háskólasamstarf á norðurslóðum. Samningurinn felur því í sér öflugan stuðning við málefni norðurslóða á Akureyri.<br /> <br /> Tenging háskólasamfélagsins á Akureyri við sjávarútveg og atvinnulíf er gott dæmi um það hvernig samfélög geta nýtt styrkleika sína til að efla þekkingu á umhverfinu og auðlindum, ásamt því að styðja við atvinnu- og efnahagslíf á sjálfbæran máta. Það er reynsla og þekking á borð við þessa sem við höfum kappkostað að taka með okkur inn í formennsku okkar í Norðurskautsráðinu og endurspeglast sérstaklega í tveimur megináherslum formennskunnar: annars vegar málefnum hafsins og hins vegar fólkinu á norðurslóðum. Allt undir merkjum sjálfbærni að sjálfsögðu.<br /> <br /> Formennska Íslands í Norðurskautsráðinu er nú hálfnuð en vegna aðstæðna sem óþarfi er að tíunda er ljóst að síðara formennskuárið verður ólíkt því sem lagt var upp með. Ísland átti að vera vettvangur fjölda funda og viðburða sem verða nú færðir yfir á netmiðla. Ég tel að við munum þrátt fyrir óvæntar breytingar geta unnið áfram að langflestum okkar góðu verkefna með aðstoð fjarfundatækni sem Norðurskautsráðið hefur nýtt sér vel um margra ára skeið. Margir segja að seigla, aðlögunarhæfni og þrautseigja, jafnvel þrjóska, einkenni lundarfar okkar sem byggjum norðurslóðir. Óvægin náttúruöfl norðurhjarans hafa meitlað þessa mannkosti okkar og nú er undir okkur komið að nýta þá til að halda áfram öflugu starfi Norðurskautsráðsins.<br /> <br /> Þrátt fyrir krefjandi tíma undanfarið lít ég björtum augum til framtíðar og ljóst er að mörg spennandi verkefni og tækifæri bíða okkar það sem eftir lifir af formennskutímabili okkar í Norðurskautsráðinu. Ég trúi því að kastljósið muni halda áfram að skína skært á norðurslóðir næstu misseri þar sem áskoranir og tækifæri verða áfram mörg og margslungin. Sjálfbærni, velmegun og öryggi á norðurslóðum eru mikilvæg fyrir heiminn allan vegna víðtækra hnattrænna áhrifa og enn mikilvægari fyrir Ísland sem liggur eitt ríkja í heild sinni innan norðurslóða.</p> <p><em>Greinin birtist fyrst í Morgunblaðinu 6. júní 2020</em></p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <div id="gtx-trans" style="position: absolute; left: 348px; top: 892.146px;"> <div class="gtx-trans-icon">&nbsp;</div> </div>
20. maí 2020Blá ör til hægriHnatt­ræni jafn­réttis­sjóðurinn og mann­réttindi hin­segin fólks<span></span> <p>Mann­réttindi hin­segin fólks eru víða um heim virt að vettugi. Hin­segin fólk verður enn fyrir marg­vís­legu of beldi, hatur­s­orð­ræðu og of­sóknum, og enn er litið á sam­kyn­hneigð sem glæp í yfir sjö­tíu aðildar­ríkjum Sam­einuðu þjóðanna. Í minni utan­ríkis­ráð­herra­tíð hef ég lagt sér­staka á­herslu á að Ís­land láti ekki sitt eftir liggja í bar­áttunni fyrir mann­réttindum hin­segin fólks á al­þjóða­vett­vangi, hvort heldur sem er á vett­vangi al­þjóða­stofnana eða í tví­hliða sam­skiptum ríkja. Þá var réttindum hin­segin fólks gert hátt undir höfði í setu okkar í mann­réttinda­ráði Sam­einuðu þjóðanna.</p> <p>Ríkis­stjórnin stefnir sömu­leiðis að því að tryggja enn betur stöðu og réttindi hin­segin fólks hér á landi. Ný­verið birtist Regn­boga­kort Evrópu­sam­taka hin­segin fólks (ILGA-Europe) og hafði Ís­land hækkað þar um fjögur sæti á milli ára og er nú komið í 14. sæti. Regn­boga­kortið er birt ár­lega í kringum al­þjóð­legan bar­áttu­dag hin­segin fólks sem er 17. maí og felur í sér út­tekt á stöðu og réttindum hin­segin fólks í Evrópu. Sem hluti af sér­stakri á­herslu á réttindi hin­segin fólks í máls­vara­starfi Ís­lands á al­þjóða­vett­vangi hefur Ís­land hlotið inn­göngu í kjarna­hóp Sam­einuðu þjóðanna um réttindi hin­segin fólks. Hópurinn saman­stendur af um þrjá­tíu ríkjum frá mis­munandi heims­álfum sem vilja beita sér sér­stak­lega fyrir auknum réttindum og bættri stöðu hin­segin fólks á al­þjóð­legum vett­vangi.</p> <p>Mann­réttindi og jafn­réttis­mál hafa fengið aukið vægi í utan­ríkis­stefnu Ís­lands á undan­förnum árum og hefur Ís­land í vaxandi mæli tekið virkan þátt í máls­vara­starfi á er­lendum vett­vangi í þágu mann­réttinda í heiminum. Á síðasta ári sam­þykkti Al­þingi nýja stefnu Ís­lands í þróunar­sam­vinnu fyrir árin 2019-2023 þar sem til­greint er að öll þróunar­sam­vinna eigi að hafa mann­réttindi að leiðar­ljósi. Í kjöl­farið hefur Ís­land fylgst sér­stak­lega grannt með stöðu hin­segin fólks í sam­starfs- og á­herslu­ríkjum í þróunar­sam­vinnu, þ.e. Palestínu, Afgan­istan, Mó­sambík, Úganda og Malaví.</p> <p>Á tímum CO­VID-19 far­aldursins eiga lýð­ræði, mann­réttindi og réttar­ríkið undir högg að sækja og hætt er við að við­kvæmir hópar eins og hin­segin fólk verði enn frekar fyrir fjöl­þættri mis­munun. Ís­land hefur því lagt aukna á­herslu á að við­eig­andi sam­starfs­aðilar og al­þjóða­stofnanir sam­þætti kynja­sjónar­mið og mann­réttindi í öllum við­brögðum, á­kvörðunum og að­gerðum í tengslum við sam­fé­lags- og efna­hags­leg á­hrif heims­far­aldursins með það að leiðar­ljósi að far­aldurinn valdi ekki bak­slagi í mann­réttinda- og kynja­jafn­réttis­málum.</p> <p>Til marks um á­herslu á mann­réttindi og jafn­réttis­mál í utan­ríkis­stefnu Ís­lands á­kvað ég ný­lega að Ís­land gerðist styrktar­aðili Hnatt­ræna jafn­réttis­sjóðsins sem beinir stuðningi sínum sér­stak­lega að mann­réttindum hin­segin fólks. Sjóðurinn hefur meðal annars beitt sér á á­herslu­svæðum Ís­lands í al­þjóð­legri þróunar­sam­vinnu þar sem mann­réttindi hin­segin fólks eru víða fótum troðin, meðal annars í Palestínu og Úganda. Staða hin­segin fólks og sam­taka þeirra gefa oft vís­bendingu um á­stand mann­réttinda al­mennt og dæmi eru um að stuðningur og að­stoð sjóðsins hafi bjargað lífum ein­stak­linga sem berjast fyrir auknum mann­réttindum hin­segin fólks og er of­sótt á grund­velli kyn­hneigðar.</p> <p>Að­koma einka­geirans að þróunar­sam­vinnu er nauð­syn­leg til að bæta lífs­kjör og mann­réttindi í þróunar­ríkjum. Hnatt­ræni jafn­réttis­sjóðurinn er með sterk gras­rótar­tengsl og að honum standa bæði einka­fyrir­tæki og opin­berir aðilar, þar á meðal öll Norður­löndin. Í þessu nýja sam­starfi gætu því falist tæki­færi fyrir ís­lensk fyrir­tæki sem vilja láta gott af sér leiða.</p> <p><em>Greinin birtist í Fréttablaðinu 20. maí 2020</em></p>
08. maí 2020Blá ör til hægriRæða ráðherra á sérstökum fundi öryggisráðsins - 75 ár frá lokum seinni heimsstyrkjaldarinnar í EvrópuUnited Nations Security Council Arria Formula Meeting<br /> 8 May 2020<br /> “75 Years from the End of the Second World War on European Soil”<br /> Address by H.E. Mr. Guðlaugur Þór Þórðarson<br /> <br /> Excellencies,<br /> <br /> Let me start by thanking Estonia and my friend Urmas for organising this virtual Arria formula Security Council meeting. Commemorating and revisiting the hard-earned lessons of the Second World War has, perhaps, never been as pertinent. <br /> <br /> We are in the midst of a global crisis with far-reaching humanitarian, social and economic consequences that has no parallels in the last 75 years since the end of the War. <br /> <br /> The Second World War brought death and untold sufferings to Europe and other parts of the world. The North-Atlantic was one of these battlefields where many lives were lost, including significant numbers of my own countrymen.<br /> <br /> The great generation, that experienced the war, committed to build a better future based on shared ideals and principles. These principles are reflected in the UN Charter and the rule-based international order today - and have served us well in the struggle for peace, social and economic progress, human rights and democracy. <br /> <br /> Mr. President,<br /> <br /> Ongoing conflicts, human rights abuses and the almost unprecedent global refugee situation underline that progress is neither linear nor irreversible. Even in Europe, which has been blessed with robust security architecture, strong regional co-operation and economic prosperity, we continue to witness incursions and violations of sovereignty – a stark reminder that the principles enshrined in the UN Charter need to be fulfilled and carried out – not only in good faith but with clear determination – by all states, always and everywhere. <br /> <br /> The Security Council, not least its permanent members, need to lead by example in preventing and solving international crises instead of being held hostage by the narrow national interest that may gradually undermine its legitimacy. Violations of international law by permanent members of the Council as we witnessed with the illegal annexation of Crimea peninsula in 2014 strain the credibility of this important body. There is a clear need for reform, leadership and vision. <br /> <br /> Mr. President,<br /> <br /> As we reflect on the Second World War, mankind is facing a common threat, COVID-19, which again is testing our solidarity and ability to work together. Let me use this opportunity to thank the Secretary-General for his leadership - calling for unity, pressing for a global ceasefire and mobilising the United Nations in saving lives and preparing for recovery. <br /> <br /> It falls on all of us to weather this storm together and make sure that the multilateral system, with its strengths and imperfections, will come out this turmoil stronger than before. We owe it to the generation that made the ultimate sacrifice 75 years ago and had the foresight to unite nations in the immediate aftermath, but, more importantly, we also owe it to future generations. <br /> <br /> Thank you. <br />
07. maí 2020Blá ör til hægriÖflug utanríkisþjónusta sjaldan mikilvægari<p><span>Í dag fer fram á Alþingi umræða um skýrslu utanríkis- og þróunarsamvinnuráherra en þessi árlega skýrslugjöf til Alþingis er gott tilefni til þess að ræða um stöðu og hlutverk utanríkisþjónustunnar á hverjum tíma. Áttatíu ára afmæli utanríkisþjónustunnar 10. apríl síðastliðinn var fagnað í skugga COVID-19-heimsfaraldursins sem hafði riðið yfir heimsbyggðina af fullum þunga. Þjóðir heims stóðu ekki einungis frammi fyrir alvarlegri heilsufarsógn heldur hugsanlega mestu heimskreppu okkar tíma. Miklar breytingar hafa átt sér stað á utanríkisþjónustunni á þeim áttatíu árum sem liðin eru frá því að Íslendingar tóku þá gæfuríku ákvörðun að taka meðferð utanríkismála í eigin hendur en þrátt fyrir þær, eins og sú yfirgripsmikla skýrsla sem ég kynni Alþingi í dag ber með sér, þá er meginhlutverkið enn hið sama; að standa vörð um hagsmuni lands og þjóðar á erlendum vettvangi.</span></p> <h2><span>Umbætur skipta sköpum</span></h2> <p><span>Skipulega hefur verið unnið að því að gera umbætur á íslensku utanríkisþjónustunni á undanförnum árum þannig að hún verði betur í stakk búin að mæta áskorunum samtímans. Líkt og við Íslendingar, og raunar heimsbyggðin öll, höfum fengið að reyna síðustu mánuði og vikur getur stormur skollið á fyrirvaralaust. Utanríkisþjónustan hefur staðið vaktina ötullega síðustu vikur og sýnt í verki að hún var í stakk búin til þess að takast á við þessar erfiðu aðstæður. Aukinn sveigjanleiki og áhersla á upplýsingaöflun og upplýsingagjöf eru á meðal þeirra umbóta sem reynst hafa vel og hafa gert okkur kleift að vinna að því sem einn maður að aðstoða hátt í 12 þúsund Íslendinga sem voru erlendis þegar faraldurinn braust út. Starf kjörræðismanna um allan heim hefur sömuleiðis skipt sköpum í þessari vinnu.<br /> Heimsfaraldurinn hefur reynt mjög á samstarf milli þjóða og því miður hefur reyndin í sumum tilfellum orðið sú að samstaða og samstarf hefur látið í minni pokann fyrir öðrum sjónarmiðum. Í fleiri tilvikum þó hefur eining ríkt á meðal helstu samstarfsríkja um að standa vörð um alþjóðlegt samstarf og af verkefnum borgaraþjónustunnar að undanförnu að dæma er ljóst að norrænt samstarf hefur ríkulega sannað gildi sitt.<br /> <br /> Verkefni síðustu vikna hafa verið ærin. Hörð samkeppni hefur ríkt á heimsvísu um nauðsynjavörur fyrir heilbrigðisgeirann og hefur utanríkisþjónustan lagt sig fram um að liðka fyrir innflutningi á þeim vörum. Sendiráð Íslands í Kína hefur greitt fyrir kaupum og flutningum á vörum þaðan og með samstilltu átaki innan stjórnsýslunnar tókst á methraða að ganga frá samningum um sameiginleg innkaup á lækningavöru í Brussel og komaí veg fyrir að Evrópusambandið setti á útflutningsbann til EFTA-ríkjanna á tilteknum hlífðarbúnaði fyrir heilbrigðisstarfsfólk.</span></p> <h2><span>Útflutningshagsmunir í fyrirrúmi</span></h2> <p><span>Á tímum COVID-19-heimsfaraldursins hefur utanríkisþjónustan einnig aðstoðað fjölmörg íslensk fyrirtæki. Sem dæmi má nefna aðstoð við Eimskip til að koma áhöfn nýs Dettifoss, alls 17 manns, inn til Kína svo að sigla megi skipinu, sem hefur verið í byggingu í Kína og er nú stærsta skip flota Eimskipafélagsins, til Íslands. Þá hefur ráðuneytið unnið með Íslandsstofu að kortlagningu á því hvernig aðstoða megi hátæknifyrirtæki við að yfirstíga ferðatakmarkanir fyrir sérfræðinga svo þeir geti staðið við þjónustusamninga og, í samráði við önnur ráðuneyti og hagsmunaaðila, leitað lausna á því hvernig hægt verði að útfæra ferðatakmarkanir svo kvikmyndaframleiðsla geti farið hér fram. Þær breytingar sem gerðar voru nýlega á skipulagi og starfsemi Íslandsstofu hafa einnig reynst heilladrjúgar við þessar erfiðu aðstæður. Snarpara viðbragð og náið samráð stjórnsýslunnar og atvinnulífsins á vettvangi Íslandsstofu er mikilvægara en nokkru sinni í yfirstandandi þrengingum. Ég hef ákveðið að beina kröftum utanríkisþjónustunnar í enn auknum mæli að útflutningshagsmunum Íslands á komandi vikum og mánuðum og mun sú ákvörðun birtast í forgangsröðum verkefna utanríkisráðuneytisins. Við munum komast út úr þessum þrengingum en það mun ekki gerast sjálfkrafa. Aukin útflutningsverðmæti munu ráða úrslitum í þeim efnum, hér eftir sem hingað til.</span></p> <h2><span>Forystuhlutverk á alþjóðavettvangi</span></h2> <p><span>Í skýrslu minni til Alþingis nú er að finna heildstætt yfirlit yfir verkefni utanríkisþjónustunnar síðasta árið og það yfirlit undirstrikar hversu langt við höfum náð á þeim áttatíu árum sem liðin eru frá því við tókum þessi mál í okkar eigin hendur. Um síðustu áramót lauk átján mánaða setu Íslands í mannréttindaráði Sameinuðu þjóðanna. Þar tók Ísland að sér forystuhlutverk í mannréttindamálum og vakti framganga okkar á stóra sviðinu verðskuldaða eftirtekt. Mannréttindi hafa alltaf verið fyrirferðarmikil í utanríkisstefnu Íslands og á vettvangi mannréttindaráðsins heyrðist rödd okkar vel. Frumraun Íslands í ráðinu var að hluta til prófsteinn á getu íslensku utanríkisþjónustunnar til þess að takast á við stór og vandasöm verkefni en segja má að Ísland hafi staðist þá prófraun með miklum sóma.</span></p> <h2><span>Norræn samstaða í öryggis- og varnarmálum</span></h2> <p><span>Sem fyrr er aðild Íslands að Atlantshafsbandalaginu, ásamt tvíhliða varnarsamningi við Bandaríkin, hornsteinn í íslenskri utanríkisstefnu þegar kemur að öryggis- og varnarmálum. Breytt öryggisumhverfi í Evrópu krefst aukins viðbúnaðar í okkar heimshluta og skýrir það umtalsverðar framkvæmdir á flugskýlum og öðrum mannvirkjum á öryggissvæðinu á Keflavíkurflugvelli. Að sama skapi hefur samvinna Íslands við aðrar Norðurlandaþjóðir orðið umfangsmeiri og nánari. Bæði Svíar og Finnar eiga mikið og gott samstarf við Atlantshafsbandalagið, þótt þær þjóðir standi utan bandalagsins. Það undirstrikar öðru fremur þá sameiginlegu öryggishagsmuni sem undir eru fyrir Norðurlandaþjóðirnar.<br /> Undanfarið ár höfum við Íslendingar stýrt starfi Norðurskautsráðsins en ráðið er mikilvægasti samráðsvettvangurinn um málefni norðurslóða. Formennska Íslands hefur gefið tækifæri til þess að halda á lofti áherslumálum er lúta að sjálfbærri þróun: málefnum hafsins, loftslagsmálum og endurnýjanlegri orku. Íslensk stjórnvöld hafa lagt áherslu á að friðsamlegt samstarf og samvinna sé í öndvegi í samstarfi aðildarríkjanna. Þrátt fyrir aukna spennu á svæðinu hefur hingað til tekist að halda ágreiningsefnum stórvelda utan við þetta samstarf. Það er okkur kappsmál að svo verði áfram.</span></p> <h2><span>Mikilvægustu markaðir í forgangi</span></h2> <p><span>Á síðasta ári lagði ég á Alþingi í fyrsta sinn fram sérstaka skýrslu um EES-samninginn en fram að því hafði umfjöllun um samninginn verið hluti af reglulegri skýrslu utanríkisráðherra. Þessi nýbreytni undirstrikar mikilvægi þessa einstaka samnings sem gjörbreytt hefur íslensku viðskiptaumhverfi allt frá gildistöku hans fyrir aldarfjórðungi. Forsenda þess að lífskjör Íslendinga haldist áfram góð eru farsæl utanríkisviðskipti. Í því skyni hefur utanríkisráðuneytið lagt áherslu á að byggja upp enn nánara samstarf við Bandaríkin sem mynda stærsta einstaka markað íslenskra útflytjenda. Á eftir Bandaríkjunum er Bretland mikilvægasta viðskiptaland Íslands og því hefur rík áhersla verið lögð á hagsmunagæslu Íslands vegna útgöngu Breta úr Evrópusambandinu. Samskipti þjóðanna hafa alla tíð verið náin en senn mun Ísland hefja samningaviðræður við Breta um framtíðarsamskipti þjóðanna.</span></p> <h2><span>Ný hugsun í þróunarsamvinnu</span></h2> <p><span>Innan utanríkisráðuneytisins hefur þróunarsamvinna fengið aukið vægi. Ný þróunarsamvinnustefna var samþykkt á Alþingi fyrir ári en í henni endurspeglast áherslur Íslands um að nýta þá sérþekkingu sem við búum yfir á fjölmörgum sviðum við uppbyggingu innviða og atvinnuvega í þróunarlöndum í samvinnu við íslenskt atvinnulíf. Í samræmi við stefnu ríkisstjórnarinnar hafa framlög til þróunarsamvinnu vaxið hröðum skrefum síðustu ár. Meira máli skiptir þó til lengri tíma sú hugarfars- og stefnubreyting sem er að verða í þessum málum með aukinni þátttöku einkaaðila í þróunarsamvinnu. Án þátttöku atvinnulífs og einkaaðila munu þau markmið sem þjóðir heims hafa sett sér í þessum málum aldrei nást. Um þetta er að skapast skilningur og samstaða meðal ríkja heims og það er svo sannarlega mikilvægt. Aukin aðkoma Íslandsstofu að verkefnum á sviði þróunarsamvinnu er til marks um þessa áherslubreytingu af okkar hálfu en það er vonandi einungis vísir að því sem koma skal.</span></p> <p><span>Fyrir tveimur árum fögnuðum við Íslendingar aldarafmæli fullveldisins. Fullveldið var forsenda þeirra efnahagslegu framfara sem við nutum á 20. öldinni og eru grundvöllur þeirra lífskjara sem við njótum í dag. Ein mikilvægasta varðan á þeirri vegferð var þegar við tókum utanríkismálin í eigin hendur fyrir réttum áttatíu árum. Þá, eins og nú, voru aðstæður í heiminum krefjandi fyrir litla þjóð í ólgusjó heimssögulegra atburða. Við slíkar aðstæður er mikilvægt að geta treyst á öfluga utanríkisþjónustu til að gæta hagsmuna lands og þjóðar á alþjóðavettvangi.</span></p> <p><span>Greinin birtist fyrst í Morgunblaðinu 7. maí 2020.</span></p>
20. apríl 2020Blá ör til hægriSamvinna í baráttunni gegn Covid-19 er hagur okkar allra<p>Heimsbyggðin hefur orðið fyrir áfalli. Covid-19 virðir engin landamæri. Aðrar hnattrænar ógnir fyrirfinnast, eins og loftslagsbreytingar, en lífi okkar og heilsu stafar nærtækari hætta af þessum heimsfaraldri. <br /> <br /> Eftir því sem veiran breiðist um hnöttinn, kemur betur í ljós hve vægðarlaus þróun hennar er og hve alvarlegar afleiðingar hennar eru fyrir efnahagslíf og mannúðarsjónarmið. Reynslan af öðrum smitsjúkdómum eins og alnæmisveirunni og ebólu sýnir að undirliggjandi samfélagsleg vandamál – einkum ójöfnuður, fátækt og átök – gera ástandið verra. <br /> <br /> Afleiðingarnar sjást nú þegar og þær koma til með að aukast. Harðast koma þær niður á fátækum og óstöðugum ríkjum með veikburða heilbrigðiskerfi. Þær bitna líka sérstaklega á konum sem verða fyrir fjárhags-, félags- og heilsufarslegu álagi, auk þess sem þær eru í meiri hættu að verða fyrir ofbeldi. <br /> <br /> Það er ekki aðeins samstaða með efnaminni hagkerfum sem hvetur okkur áfram. Hnattrænar aðgerðir varðandi Covid-19 eru nauðsynlegar ef við viljum vernda almenning í okkar eigin löndum og efnahagslíf. Við verðum að bregðast við ástandinu í okkar eigin löndum, en einnig er mikilvægt að við grípum til hnattrænna, fjölþjóðlegra viðbragðsaðgerða. Veikleikar í heilbrigðiskerfum þróunarríkja hafa í för með sér einna mesta áhættu hvað varðar hnattræna útbreiðslu veirunnar.<br /> <br /> Náið samstarf okkar allra – ríkja innan sem utan ESB – er mikilvægt í því skyni að auka áhrif okkar, bæði fjárhagslega og á vettvangi. Þess vegna þurfa allir samstarfsaðilar á alþjóðavísu, meðal annars Sameinuðu þjóðirnar og stofnanir þeirra, að gera allt sem í valdi þeirra stendur til að berjast gegn faraldrinum, draga úr afleiðingum, efla viðbúnað og auka möguleika á endurreisn.<br /> <br /> Við munum leggja áherslu á aðgerðir á eftirfarandi sviðum: <br /> <br /> <strong>Tafarlaus viðbrögð.</strong> Skjót, samræmd og öflug viðbrögð til hjálpar viðkvæmustu ríkjunum eru nauðsynleg. Stuðningur við marghliða kerfi og samstarfsaðila sem eru í framlínunni er skilvirkasta leiðin. Við styðjum Alþjóðaheilbrigðisstofnunina að fullu í hlutverki sínu sem leiðtogi og samræmingaraðili á heimsvísu vegna viðbragða við Covid-19 á heilbrigðissviðinu, og gerum okkur grein fyrir mikilvægi annarra hnattrænna heilbrigðisstofnana eins og Gavi-sambandsins, Heimssjóðsins (Global Fund) og Unitaid stofnunarinnar. Við styðjum eindregið hnattræna viðbragðsáætlun aðalframkvæmdastjóra Sameinuðu þjóðanna um mannúðaraðstoð til að hjálpa berskjaldaðasta fólkinu sem þegar býr við neyðarástand í mannúðarmálum, einkum flóttafólk og vegalaust fólk innan eigin lands. Við teljum einnig að nýr fjölþjóðlegur vörslusjóður Sameinuðu þjóðanna vegna viðbragða og endurreisnar sé nauðsynlegur til að hjálpa lág- og millitekjuríkjum að takast á við heilsufarsleg og efnahagsleg áhrif sjúkdómsins. <br /> <br /> <strong>Lausnir fyrir alla.</strong> Skilvirkt viðbragð á heimsvísu verður að fela í sér aðgang að bóluefni, nýrra meðferða, og sýnatöku fyrir alla. Bandalag um nýsköpun í viðbúnaði vegna farsótta (CEPI) gegnir lykilhlutverki við þróun bóluefnis en það gera einnig vísindamenn í löndum okkar. Við ættum að vinna saman að því að þróa bóluefni eins fljótt og auðið er og sjá til þess að það sé tiltækt öllum, ekki einungis þeim sem hafa tök á að greiða fyrir það. Sérfræðiþekking og alþjóðleg staða Gavi-sambandsins mun þar skipta sköpum.<br /> <br /> <strong>Lokun fjármögnunarbila.</strong> Við verðum að grípa til skjótra aðgerða og setja saman heildstæðan pakka með efnahagslegum, heilsufarslegum, næringarfræðilegum og félagslegum ráðstöfunum í samstarfi við Sameinuðu þjóðirnar og aðrar alþjóðastofnanir. Við köllum eftir því að opinberir lánardrottnar vinni saman og með Alþjóðabankanum og Alþjóðagjaldeyrissjóðnum að því að kanna möguleika á tímabundinni frestun endurgreiðslna frá fátækustu ríkjunum sem eru hvað viðkvæmust. Við verðum að skuldbinda okkur til að leggja til og virkja frekari úrræði umfram opinbera þróunaraðstoð ef við viljum að sönnu auka viðnámsþrótt landa gegn kórónaveirunni. Einkageirinn mun leika mikilvægt hlutverk við að finna nýstárlegar lausnir og virkja fjármagn til að halda viðskiptum og aðfangakeðjum gangandi, til ábata fyrir bæði hátekju- og lágtekjuríki. Þetta hjálpar til við að halda hagkerfum uppi og að lokum styðja við endurreisn þeirra.<br /> <br /> <strong>Enginn verði skilinn eftir.</strong> Við verðum að tryggja að þeir hópar sem verða fyrir mestum áhrifum fái tafarlausa aðstoð við að byggja upp félagslega vernd sem og heilsu- og næringartengda þjónustu. Við horfum einkum til Sameinuðu þjóðanna, Alþjóðabankans og Alþjóðagjaldeyrissjóðsins til að leiða á þessu sviði. Við verðum að vernda þá sem eru viðkvæmastir fyrir, þ.m.t. konur og stúlkur. Menntun ætti einnig áfram að vera forgangsatriði. Endurnýjun birgða hjá Gavi-sambandinu síðar á þessu ári er einnig brýn. Við þurfum reglubundna bólusetningu fyrir þær milljónir manna sem verða fyrir áhrifum af þessum heimsfaraldri í fátækustu ríkjunum. Til lengri tíma verðum við að auka stórlega viðleitni okkar til að ná fram meira félagslegu öryggi og tryggja heilbrigðisþjónustu fyrir alla á heimsvísu. <br /> <br /> <strong>Hvika ekki frá meginreglum.</strong> Mikilvægur og dýrkeyptur lærdómur stendur skýr eftir úr baráttunni gegn alnæmisveirunni og ebólu: öll viðleitni okkar og viðbrögð verða að byggja á grunni meginreglna um jafnræði, þ.m.t. varðandi kyn, fjölbreytileika, mannréttindi og alþjóðalög. Við skuldbindum okkur til að verja þessar meginreglur og væntum þess að samstarfsaðilar okkar deili þeim. Fjölmiðlar, aðgerðasinnar og óháðir sérfræðingar hafa allir hlutverki að gegna við að móta viðbrögð okkar. <br /> <br /> <strong>Hrekja falsfréttir.</strong> Hvert ríki verður að bregðast við Covid-19 með sínum hætti, en við munum halda áfram að mæla með opinni, gagnsærri, ábyrgri og heiðarlegri nálgun. Við munum einnig takast af festu á við villandi upplýsingar og treysta á alþjóðlega samstarfsaðila okkar að gera slíkt hið saman. <br /> <br /> <strong>Byggja betur upp á ný.</strong> Við höfum tækifæri til að styrkja heilbrigðisöryggi á heimsvísu. Fjárfesting í faraldsfræðilegu eftirliti í öllum ríkjum er augljós upphafsreitur. En þetta gæti líka verið tækifæri til að komast burt frá þeirri nálgun sem er svo ríkjandi í dag að einblína á veikindi og sjúkdóma, og stíga fyrsta skrefið í átt að því að hugsa um tengslin á milli heilbrigðs lífs, heilbrigðra samfélaga og heilbrigðs umhverfis – og verið besta vörn sem við höfum gegn farsóttum í framtíðinni.<br /> <br /> <strong>Langtímahugsun frá byrjun</strong>. Félagslegar og hagrænar afleiðingar faraldursins verða reiðarslag. Milljónir hafa þegar misst atvinnu sína. Við verðum að grípa þetta tækifæri og hugsa til lengri tíma, einbeita okkur að loftlagsmálum og viðnámi gegn loftslagsbreytingum, grænum störfum og orku, betri félagslegri vernd og stjórnunarháttum. Við styðjum ákall aðalframkvæmdastjóra Sameinuðu þjóðanna um að gera endurreisnaráætlun til að halda okkur á réttri leið í átt að Heimsmarkmiðum um sjálfbæra þróun fyrir árið 2030 og Parísarsamningsins um loftslagsbreytingar. Við styðjum einnig ákall hans um vopnahlé á heimsvísu.<br /> <br /> Við skuldbindum okkur til að vinna að þessum markmiðum, og beita og virkja pólitískan vilja, tæknilega þekkingu og fjármuni. Við hvetjum allar þjóðir til að styðja þetta sameiginlega átak. Við eigum þann valkost einan að fást við þennan sjúkdóm í sameiningu.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p><span style="font-size: 12pt; color: black;"><em>Guðlaugur Þór Þórðarson, utanríkis- og þróunarsamvinnuráðherra&nbsp;</em><em><span style="font-size: 12pt;"></span></em><em>og þróunarmálaráðherrar Bretlands, Anne-Marie Trevelyan;&nbsp;Danmerkur, Rasmus Prehn; Finnlands, Ville Skinnari; Noregs, Dag Inge Ulstein; Svíþjóðar, Peter Eriksson; og Þýskalands, Gerd Müller.</em></span></p> <p><span style="font-size: 12pt; color: black;"><em>Greinin birstist fyrst í Telegraph 9. apríl og á íslensku í Fréttablaðinu 16. apríl.</em></span></p>
11. apríl 2020Blá ör til hægriÍ þágu þjóðar í 80 ár<p>Þann 10. apríl voru áttatíu ár liðin frá því að Íslendingar tóku þá gæfuríku ákvörðun að taka meðferð utanríkismála í eigin hendur. Það var mikilvægt skref í að tryggja sjálfstæði þjóðarinnar til framtíðar og markaði upphaf íslensku utanríkisþjónustunnar. Nú eins og þá er mikilvægt að hafa áfram öfluga utanríkisþjónustu.</p> <p>Sé litið yfir áttatíu ára sögu utanríkisþjónustunnar hefur starfsemi hennar sjaldan verið Íslendingum sýnilegri en á undanförnum vikum. Sér í lagi þeim þúsundum einstaklinga sem hafa komið heim frá öllum heimsins hornum með liðsinni borgaraþjónustu utanríkisráðuneytisins og þeirra ríflega tvöhundruð ræðismanna sem vinna sem sjálfboðaliðar fyrir Ísland í níutíu löndum.</p> <p>Á tímum sem þessum kemur skýrt í ljós að Íslendingar einir geta staðið vörð um hagsmuni lands og þjóðar á erlendum vettvangi, oft í gegnum alþjóðlegt samstarf og víðfeðmt tengslanet utanríkisþjónustunnar. Þar kemur fyrst upp í hugann norræn samvinna sem hefur í gegnum tíðina reynst okkur dýrmæt. Nærtækt dæmi er samvinna borgaraþjónusta utanríkisráðuneyta Norðurlandanna sem hafa að undanförnu unnið saman að flóknum verkefnum á borð við borgaraflug frá fjarlægum stöðum, þaðan sem áætlunarferðum flugfélaga hefur verið hætt. Fundir utanríkisráðherra Norðurlandanna hafa verið tíðir á liðnum vikum og ljóst er að mikil ánægja ríkir með þá samheldni sem norrænt samstarf á sviði borgaraþjónustu hefur leitt í ljós.</p> <p>Þrátt fyrir smæðina sinnir utanríkisþjónusta Íslendinga hlutverki sínu af krafti eins og skýrt hefur komið fram í verki á undanförnum vikum. Það skiptir miklu máli fyrir sjálfstæða þjóð og hefur gert í 80 ára sögu utanríkisþjónustunnar. Á grundvelli sambandslagasamningsins frá 1918 fóru Danir með íslensk utanríkismál í umboði Íslendinga, en Íslendingar tóku þau í sínar hendur eftir hernám Danmerkur 9. apríl 1940. Líkt og nú voru aðstæður þá ekki síður fordæmalausar.</p> <p>Eftir sem áður eru meginverkefni íslenskrar utanríkisþjónustu þau sömu: að gæta hagsmuna Íslendinga og íslenskra fyrirtækja erlendis. Utanríkisþjónustan er útvörður þjóðarinnar hvað varðar varnar- og öryggismál, utanríkisviðskipti og menningarmál og gætir víðari hagsmuna með öflugu málsvarastarfi og framlagi í þágu sjálfbærrar þróunar og mannréttinda. Þar skiptir alþjóðleg samvinna höfuðmáli. Við þetta má svo bæta virðingu fyrir alþjóðalögum, sem skiptir minni ríki miklu máli við að gæta hagsmuna sinna gagnvart hinum stóru. </p> <p>Alþjóðleg samvinna felur enn fremur í sér viðurkenningu erlendra ríkja á að Ísland sé frjálst og fullvalda ríki. Þannig má segja að alþjóðasamstarfið og fullveldið styðji hvort við annað. Þegar faraldrinum linnir verður alþjóðleg samvinna, viðskipti og virk hagsmunagæsla sem fyrr, undirstaða þess að lífskjör og tækifæri hérlendis verði áfram með því sem best sem gerist í heiminum.<em></em></p> <p><em>Greinin birtist fyrst í Morgunblaðinu 11. apríl 2020.</em></p> <p>&nbsp;</p>
05. mars 2020Blá ör til hægriÁvarp utanríkisráðherra á ráðstefnunni Planet Youth.Dear guests,<br /> <br /> It is a pleasure to have you here in Reykjavík to discuss how we can best nurture the young generation. We are proud of our Icelandic teenagers who have shown the generations before them that there is a healthier and happier way of being, even when you are going through the tough transition to adulthood. I know that my generation had a lot of bad habits and we are glad that our kids are much less likely to repeat our mistakes. <br /> <br /> Politicians, such as myself, have the responsibility to work towards a better society and find ways to safeguard our planet for the wellbeing of future generations. We must work with people such as you, to ensure that our kids grow up in a safe environment and that their rights are respected. In Iceland we have made important progress on reducing substance abuse including through sports and cultural activities. We are eager to share our experience and learn from best practices elsewhere to continue on this positive path.<br /> <br /> The Government must also look ahead to make sure that when our children grow up, they inherit a prosperous, healthy society where democracy and human rights are respected. Kids today have clearly stated their concerns about the warming climate, and they are ready to participate in politics in their own way – even if they are not even old enough to vote. <br /> <br /> In this regard, Iceland is committed to a greener way of life, aiming for carbon neutrality in 2040. We are furthermore eager to share our knowledge and experience from the sustainable use of marine resources and sustainable energy resources. As you may know, 85% of our energy comes from renewable sources and 90% of our homes use geothermal water for heating. This is now being replicated in places as far as China and East Africa’s Rift Valley. <br /> <br /> We are committed to supporting innovation and the creative industries. Innovation is key to solving current global challenges and reaching the goals we have set ourselves under Agenda 2030. This will be innovation for youth and by youth – in our lifetime we have seen changes that I could not have imagined, but indeed someone did and acted on it. In the near future, we will continue to see the impossible become possible.<br /> <br /> As Foreign Minister, I am acutely aware of current trends that may undermine the multilateral system we have built in the decades since the end of WWII. I bring this to your attention, as we need all hands on deck to promote and protect this system. <br /> <br /> This year we celebrate the 75th anniversary of the United Nations and we must use the occasion to support and defend the principles it was built on. Just last week, I had the honour to sign an agreement with the Icelandic Youth Council on the promotion of these principles and the participation of youth representatives in the work of the United Nations. The commitment of these young talented people to international cooperation is indeed promising.<br /> <br /> In Iceland, we have been fortunate to see the fast progress of gender equality in the past few decades. We have become champions of sorts, which allows us to have a strong voice internationally when we advocate women’s empowerment. Our young female athletes have further elevated our claim to fame, so to speak, and “Dóttir” is now a known term, not only in the world of Crossfit and football.<br /> <br /> Gender equality and human rights for all, remain a corner stone of Iceland’s foreign policy. We have just stepped down as an elected member of the Human Rights Council in Geneva where we were able to actively promote human rights for all, including women and LGBTI+ persons, and the rights of the child. <br /> <br /> We also work for human rights through our development cooperation. Important projects on education, health care and sanitation will improve the lives of thousands of children in developing countries. We are committed to the Sustainable Development Goals, our collective map towards a better future.<br /> <br /> We need the voices of the many to be heard in support of freedom, human rights and multilateralism in general because we want the best for our children. <br /> <br /> I wish you a good conference and a pleasant stay in Iceland.<br /> <br /> Thank you.<br /> <br />
02. mars 2020Blá ör til hægriNýjar reglur um skipan sendiherra<p>Þegar best lætur vinnur utanríkisþjónustan sem einn maður að því standa vörð um hagsmuni lands og þjóðar á alþjóðavettvangi. Stjórnendur í utanríkisþjónustunni eru að stórum hluta úr hópi sendiherra. Þeir gegna ýmist stjórnunarstöðum í utanríkisráðuneytinu eða veita sendiskrifstofum forstöðu. Algengast er að þeir sem gegna þessum embættum hafi helgað feril sinn störfum í utanríkisþjónustunni og öðlast framgang í starfi uns þeir hafa orðið sendiherrar. Þó hefur einnig tíðkast í nokkrum mæli að skipa sendiherra sem ekki koma úr röðum starfsmanna utanríkisþjónustunnar. Hafa þeir í störfum sínum á öðrum vettvangi, svo sem stjórnmálum og viðskiptum, byggt upp þekkingu og tengsl á sviði alþjóðamála sem gagnast í hagsmunagæslu fyrir Ísland.</p> <p><strong>Núverandi fyrirkomulag ekki gallalaust</strong></p> <p>Þetta fyrirkomulag hefur að mörgu leyti gefist vel en það er ekki gallalaust. Samkvæmt núgildandi lögum hefur ráðherra að mestu leyti frjálsar hendur við skipan sendiherra. Engar sérstakar hæfniskröfur eru gerðar til sendiherra umfram það sem almennt tíðkast og embætti þeirra eru undanþegin auglýsingaskyldu áður en í þau er skipað. Þessi skipan mála hefur sætt gagnrýni. Auk þess hefur sendiherrum fjölgað jafnt og þétt hin síðustu ár og er nú svo komið að fjöldi þeirra samræmist illa umfangi og verkefnum utanríkisþjónustunnar. Þetta hefur einnig leitt til þess að framgangur yngri starfsmanna hefur reynst hægari en ella enda er þröngt á fleti fyrir þegar fjórðungur starfsmanna utanríkisþjónustunnar gegnir stjórnendastöðu.</p> <p><strong>Breytingar nauðsynlegar</strong></p> <p>Ég hef sem utanríkisráðherra ekki skipað neinn nýjan sendiherra eftir að ég tók við embætti en þegar ég tók við hinn 11. janúar 2017 voru þeir 40 talsins og hefur síðan fækkað um fjóra. Það er einsdæmi í síðari tíma sögu utanríkisþjónustunnar að meira en þrjú ár líði án þess að nýr sendiherra sé skipaður. Raunar þarf að leita aftur til áranna 1961-1964 til að finna jafn langt tímabil án þess að nýr sendiherra sé skipaður. Hefði ég haldið áfram á sömu braut og flestir forvera minna þá væri heildarfjöldi sendiherra nú kominn vel á fimmta tuginn. Í mínum huga er ljóst að óbreytt fyrirkomulag stenst ekki lengur. Ég hef því ákveðið að leggja til breytingar á lögum um utanríkisþjónustuna sem miða að því að koma á fastari skipan við val á sendiherrum til framtíðar án þess að fórna jákvæðum eiginleikum núgildandi fyrirkomulags. Eru breytingarnar í grófum dráttum fjórþættar.</p> <p><strong>Þak á fjölda sendiherra</strong></p> <p>Í fyrsta lagi er lagt til í frumvarpinu að sett verði þak á fjölda sendiherra á hverjum tíma. Verði frumvarpið að lögum tekur fjöldi sendiherra framvegis mið af fjölda sendiskrifstofa sem utanríkisþjónustan starfrækir. Hér er um grundvallarbreytingu að ræða, enda eru í dag engin takmörk í lögum fyrir fjölda sendiherra. Í frumvarpinu er gert ráð fyrir að þeir verði hverju sinni ekki fleiri en fjöldi sendiskrifstofa að fimmtungi viðbættum. Í dag starfrækir utanríkisráðuneytið alls 25 sendiskrifstofur. Nái þessi breyting fram að ganga verður hámarksfjöldi sendiherra 30 en þeir eru í dag 36 talsins. Þetta þýðir að enginn sendiherra verður skipaður fyrr en þeim hefur fækkað niður fyrir þrjátíu miðað við óbreyttan fjölda sendiskrifstofa.</p> <p><strong>Auglýsingaskylda og hæfniskröfur</strong></p> <p>Í öðru lagi mælir frumvarpið fyrir um skyldu til að auglýsa laus embætti sendiherra og umsækjendum um þau gert að uppfylla lögákveðin hæfisskilyrði. Hér er einnig um grundvallarbreytingu að ræða, enda eru embætti sendiherra nú undanþegin auglýsingaskyldu. Þessi breyting þýðir að almennt muni enginn taka við embætti sendiherra nema að undangenginni auglýsingu og hæfnismati. Gerir frumvarpið ráð fyrir að umsækjendur verði að hafa háskólapróf og reynslu af alþjóða- og utanríkismálum. Með þessu verður sköpuð umgjörð utan um embætti sendiherra sem ætla má að komi einkum úr röðum hæfustu starfsmanna utanríkisþjónustunnar, þar sem reynsla, þekking og færni verður kjarninn í stjórnendahópnum. Slíkt er nauðsynlegt til að tryggja stöðugleika og festu í starfsemi utanríkisþjónustunnar og búa hana undir að takast á við áskoranir til framtíðar.</p> <p><strong>Sterk umgjörð um sérstakar skipanir</strong></p> <p>Í þriðja lagi er lagt til að ráðherra verði heimilt að skipa einstakling tímabundið til allt að fimm ára í embætti sendiherra til að veita sendiskrifstofu forstöðu eða að gegna hlutverki sérstaks erindreka án þess að starfið yrði auglýst. Skipun þeirra sem koma að starfi sínu með þessum hætti verður þó hvorki heimilt að framlengja eða senda annað og fjöldi þeirra má ekki nema meira en fimmtungi af heildarfjölda skipaðra sendiherra. Að þessu marki yrði ráðherra áfram heimilt að leita út fyrir raðir fastra starfsmanna utanríkisþjónustunnar eftir sendiherrum sem hafa aflað sér sérþekkingar, reynslu og tengsla á öðrum vettvangi, svo sem í stjórnmálum eða í atvinnulífinu, til að annast afmörkuð verkefni í þágu hagsmuna Íslands á alþjóðavettvangi. Með þessu móti verður þeirri heimild, sem nú er ótakmörkuð, settar málefnalegar skorður.</p> <p><strong>Aukinn sveigjanleiki og tækifæri fyrir yngra fólk</strong></p> <p>Í fjórða lagi er gert ráð fyrir þeirri breytingu með frumvarpinu að ráðherra geti tímabundið sett lægra setta starfsmenn, sendifulltrúa, í embætti sendiherra. Þennan hóp fylla að jafnaði þeir sem eiga að baki langan og farsælan feril í þjónustunni og hafa unnið sig upp innan hennar án þess að vera orðnir sendiherrar. Þessi breyting þjónar fyrst og fremst þeim tilgangi að nýta betur starfskrafta sendifulltrúa og veita einkum hæfileikaríku yngra fólki í utanríkisþjónustunni aukin tækifæri á framgangi í starfi. Það ástand sem að framan er lýst, þar sem fjöldi sendiherra hefur verið mun meiri en verkefni utanríkisþjónustunnar krefjast, hefur gert það að verkum að stór hópur sendifulltrúa hefur haft litla möguleika á framgangi í starfi. Með þessu móti gefst kostur á að nýta krafta þessa hóps án þess að til eiginlegrar skipunar sendiherra kæmi. Vegna þess hvernig þessi hópur er saman settur eykur þessi breyting jafnframt á möguleika kvenna til að fá framgang með þessum hætti og þar með til að ná fram auknu jafnrétti kynjanna í röðum þjónustunnar.</p> <p><strong>Mikilvægar grundvallarbreytingar</strong></p> <p>Íslendingar verða að geta treyst því að utanríkisþjónustan sé á hverjum tíma sem best í stakk búin að gæta hagsmuna lands og þjóðar á alþjóðavettvangi og í samskiptum við önnur ríki. Á síðustu árum hafa verið gerðar margvíslegar breytingar á áherslum og skipulagi utanríkisþjónustunnar til að nýta fjármuni og starfskrafta eins og best verður á kosið. Breytingar á skipan sendiherra eru þáttur í þessu ferli. Um er að ræða grundvallarbreytingar sem bæta úr ágöllum á núverandi fyrirkomulagi. Þessar breytingar tryggja nauðsynlegt jafnvægi milli festu og sveigjanleika innan utanríkisþjónustunnar, þar sem þekking og reynsla af alþjóðamálum myndar kjarnann án þess að við missum af tækifæri til að nýta jafnframt hæfileika og reynslu einstaklinga frá öðrum sviðum þjóðfélagsins.</p> <p>Greinin birtist fyrst í Morgunblaðinu 2. mars 2020.</p>
25. febrúar 2020Blá ör til hægriRæða í mannréttindaráði Sameinuðu þjóðanna<p style="text-align: center;"><strong>Mannréttindaráð Sameinuðu þjóðanna</strong></p> <p style="text-align: center;"><strong>Ræða Guðlaugs Þórs Þórðarsonar utanríkis- og þróunarsamvinnuráðherra</strong></p> <p style="text-align: center;"><strong>Genf, 25. febrúar 2020</strong></p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Madame President,</p> <p>Excellencies,</p> <p>Ladies and Gentlemen,</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>I want to start off by saying what a pleasure and a privilege it was for Iceland to serve on the Human Rights Council for the very first time, up until the first of January this year.</p> <p>We have practiced what we preach, maintaining through our action on the Council that human rights are universal and inalienable; indivisible; interdependent and interrelated. Human rights are and will be a cornerstone of our foreign policy and we will remain engaged in this Council´s work, even though we have now reverted to being an observer state.</p> <p>Madame President,</p> <p>When we took up a seat on the Human Rights Council, Iceland became the smallest UN member state to do so – a record we held until the Marshall Islands joined the Council this year.</p> <p>We believe it is imperative that this Council is representative of the UN as a whole, ensuring the full participation of smaller states, such as ourselves, the Marshall Islands and others. </p> <p>The Human Rights Council must not only be an arena for the big and the powerful. And I believe we have, in fact, shown that smaller countries can sometimes take the lead on topics of great importance. </p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Madame President,</p> <p>I have said this before, but we must hold Council members to a high standard. It does not help the credibility of the Council when gross human rights abusers are repeatedly elected to serve in this forum, the election of Venezuela last October being the latest regrettable example of this tendency. </p> <p>The Maduro's regime clear human rights violations have resulted in a humanitarian catastrophe and allegations of extrajudicial killings and torture are deeply disturbing. Hundreds of thousands of people have sought refuge in neighbouring states. The Government of Venezuela bears responsibility and yet they were elected to join this body as of 1 January. </p> <p>Madame President,</p> <p>The Human Rights Council is the forum for open and honest dialogue, where we can hold each other accountable and give voice to the voiceless.</p> <p>With that principle in mind, last March Iceland lead 36 countries in a Joint Statement on the human rights situation in Saudi Arabia, an initiative Australia continued last September.</p> <p>We also put forward a resolution expressing concern for the human rights situation in the Philippines, asking the High Commissioner for a report on the matter. </p> <p>This showed that the Council can tackle the matters it must address to be credible in the eyes of the world. </p> <p>On the topic of credibility and reform we need to do more, of course. The Human Rights Council is not perfect, but we have seen overall that it can have a great impact for the benefit of people – and that must be our goal, to improve the lives of people around the world. </p> <p>However, we must continue to address the bias in the council with regard to the state of Israel. While Iceland will not shy away from criticizing Israel when warranted, we believe that such criticism has a greater impact when the same rules – and agenda items – apply to all states. It should be noted that we have seen some positive steps in this regard, and we do not subscribe to the view that because a body is not perfect it should be abandoned. </p> <p>Quite the opposite. </p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Madame President,</p> <p>In line with Iceland’s emphasis on gender equality and women’s human rights, Iceland, together with others, put forward a resolution on Equal Pay, which was approved by consensus. The UN General Assembly has subsequently approved a resolution that establishes September 18th as the International Equal Pay Day to be observed each year. </p> <p>This brings much-needed focus to a topic that has emerged as a core issue of fairness and key to inclusive and sustainable economic growth to drive development and progress. </p> <p>We were also happy to see the increased support for the mandate of the Independent Expert on Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity, with LGBTI rights being one of Iceland´s priorities on the Council. Iceland was proud to offer a public platform for the Independent Expert, Mr. Victor Madrigal-Borloz, to speak on this important topic during his visit to Iceland in September last year.</p> <p>We must remember that all human beings are entitled to human rights, regardless of their gender, the colour of their skin, sexual orientation or religion. The fact that around seventy UN member states have laws on their books that deems it a crime to be gay or lesbian or otherwise different is unacceptable and we must agree to change such laws. </p> <p>I want to use this podium now, and the platform that I have here at the Human Rights Council, to join the global call for decriminalization of consensual same sex conduct and the full respect of the rights of lesbian, gay, trans and intersex people.</p> <p>It is a rights issue that I want to devote our full attention to, and a topic that I now want to put on the agenda of this body, trusting that we can – together and through concerted action – not only change legislation but also influence the minds of political leaders, government officials and ordinary people. That way we will gradually see a much-needed change in attitudes and opinions.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Madame President,</p> <p>I thank you.</p>
22. febrúar 2020Blá ör til hægriAldarlöng vinátta Eistlands og Íslands<p><span>Flestir Eistar vita vel að Ísland var fyrsta landið sem viðurkenndi sjálfstæði Eistlands, Lettlands og Litháens 22. ágúst 1991. Ísland gekk þá á undan með góðu fordæmi og minnti um leið á mikilvægi þess að standa vörð um alþjóðalög og sameiginleg grunngildi. Samstarf ríkjanna og virk þátttaka þeirra í alþjóðlegu samstarfi hefur alla tíð síðan grundvallast á þessum meginreglum.&nbsp;<br /> <br /> Ríkin eru bæði dygg aðildarríki Atlantshafsbandalagsins og leggja sitt af mörkum á alþjóðavettvangi. Eistland situr nú í öryggisráði Sameinuðu þjóðanna og Ísland var kjörið til setu í mannréttindaráðinu til ársloka 2019. Borgaralegir sérfræðingar frá Íslandi sem starfa hjá Atlantshafsbandalaginu í Eistlandi og Litáen eiga þátt í að efla varnir Eystrasaltsríkjanna. Á móti miðla þau til&nbsp;Íslands mikilvægri þekkingu á netvörnum og hvernig bregðast má við falsfréttum og tryggja upplýsingaöryggi.<br /> <br /> Um áramótin tók Eistland við keflinu af Íslandi og leiðir nú samvinnu Norðurlanda og Eystrasaltsríkja (NB8). Samband Norðurlandanna og Eystrasaltsríkjanna er náið og tækifærin mörg til að efla samstarfið enn frekar. Ýmis tækifæri liggja á sviði gagnaskipta, rafrænna lausna og netöryggis en reynsla Eistlands af stafrænni stjórnsýslu sýnir hvernig snjallar tæknilegar útfærslur geta örvað hagvöxt og einfaldað viðskipti. Ísland, Finnland og Færeyjar eiga nú þegar í samstarfi við Eistland um þróun gagnaskipta sem með tíð og tíma gætu náð til hinna samstarfsríkjanna.&nbsp;<br /> <br /> Ísland gegnir formennsku í Norðurskautsráðinu um þessar mundir og leggur þar áherslu á lífríki hafsins, loftslag og grænar orkulausnir, og fólk og samfélög norðurslóða. Þá er lögð áhersla á að efla samstarf innan ráðsins sjálfs og út á við enda hefur þróunin á norðurslóðum víðtæk áhrif annars staðar, til dæmis í Eistlandi. Eistland sækist eftir áheyrnaraðild í Norðurskautsráðinu og vill leggja sitt af mörkum til sjálfbærrar þróunar, ekki síst með framlagi til heimskautarannsókna. Öll þessi málefni voru til umræðu á fundi okkar í Tallinn í vikunni.&nbsp;<br /> <br /> Þótt atburðir ársins 1991 séu vel þekktir eru færri meðvitaðir um þá staðreynd að þjóðirnar tvær fengu báðar sjálfstæði árið 1918. Á þessari rúmu öld hefur samband þjóðanna vaxið og dafnað, ekki síst undanfarna þrjá áratugi. Sú vinátta endurspeglast í vaxandi fjölda ferðamanna og kröftugum menningartengslum, sérstaklega á sviði tónlistar. Í ár ætla eistnesk stjórnvöld að veita þeim einstaklingum sem hafa látið að sér kveða í samstarfi Norðurlanda og Eystrasaltsríkjanna viðurkenningu og er unnið að því að setja á fót norræn-baltnesk verðlaun sem stuðli að enn virkara samstarfi.</span></p> <p><em>Þessi sameiginlega grein Guðlaugs Þórs Þórðarsonar utanríkis- og þróunarsamvinnuráðherra og Urmas Reinsalu, utanríkisráðherra Eistlands, birtist í Morgunblaðinu 22. febrúar 2019.</em></p>
18. febrúar 2020Blá ör til hægriSustainable Arctic in a Changing World - fyrirlestur í Stradins-háskóla í Ríga<p><strong>Sustainable Arctic in a Changing World<br /> <span></span></strong><span><em>Lecture at the Rīga Stradiņš University on Arctic and Sustainable Development - 17 February 2020</em></span></p> <p>Colleagues from the Latvian Ministry for Foreign Affairs,</p> <p>Dear students, </p> <p>Other distinguished guests.&nbsp; </p> <p>At the outset, allow me to say how happy I am to be here in Latvia, and that I am especially proud to start my visit with a lecture at the Riga Stradinc University. I literally hit the ground running, since I just landed roughly an hour ago after a morning flight from Iceland trough Stockholm. </p> <p>I mention this, not to brag about my extremely modest running skills, but to demonstrate the fact that our two countries, Latvia and Iceland, are in fact closer than it seems. </p> <p>We may be fairly far apart, geographically – Iceland in the middle of the North-Atlantic and Latvia east of the Baltic Sea. </p> <p>Still, we are only a few hours away from each other with direct flights regularly connecting Riga and Reykjavik, bringing Icelanders and Latvians back and forth, in numbers. </p> <p>In international relations we are often reminded that <em>geography matters</em>.</p> <p>This certainly rings true for Latvia, given your large next-door neighbour, as it does for Iceland, surrounded by the high seas and bordering on the Arctic Circle, as I will talk about in more detail later in my speech. </p> <p>But my point is, that geography is far from the <em>only</em> determining factor of inter-state relations – or for people-to-people contacts, for that matter. </p> <p>We live in a world where relations are increasingly defined by <em>connectivity</em>, where every single one of us can interact globally through his or her mobile phone. </p> <p>A week ago, an Icelandic composer, Hildur Gudnadóttir, was the first Icelander and the first woman in her category to win an Oscar for music, which she wrote for the film “The Joker”. </p> <p>Raised in Reykjavik, she works out of Berlin and sends her music online to Hollywood. </p> <p>This is just one out of endless examples of today´s connectivity. How we can enjoy and contribute to culture worldwide, irrespective of where we are located. </p> <p>We can also follow and engage in politics globally, and we can study and learn online. &nbsp;Last but not least we can <em>trade</em> with each other, to our mutual benefit, by the simple click of a computer. </p> <p>But while the whole world may be our playing ground, it is at the same time only natural that we look for partners closer to home. </p> <p>Partnerships are namely also based on history, culture and politics. Most of all, true partnerships are founded on shared values. </p> <p>The relations between Iceland and Latvia are a prime example of this.</p> <p>We have close bilateral relations which date back decades, even centuries back to the Age of the Vikings, but perhaps the defining moment in our bilateral relations was when Latvia proudly regained its independence in 1991. </p> <p>We both belong to the Nordic-Baltic family where the eight members are close neighbours, with common interests and shared values. </p> <p>We cooperate closely within international organizations, where our joint values truly serve as a guiding light and keep us together. </p> <p>I say this because there are turbulent times in world affairs and even the most valued principles can, unfortunately, not be taken for granted. </p> <p>But if we are determined to defend our values – to defend democracy, human rights and the rule of law – we will arrive at more or less the same policy choices. This we have done in the past and this we will do in the future. </p> <p>And this cooperation will continue to strengthen our relations and solidarity – strengthen our alliance. </p> <p>Ladies and gentlemen,</p> <p>Iceland and Latvia do not only share the same interests and values, we are also faced with the same uncertainties and challenges. We live in a constantly changing world. Here, we are in many ways confronted with the same question: </p> <p><em>How does a small state in the international system defend its interests, meet challenges and pursue opportunities? </em></p> <p>I will obviously not speak on behalf of my Latvian colleagues, but as the Foreign Minister of Iceland I can reply with three words: </p> <p>Partnerships, participation and perseverance. </p> <p>Let me start with <em>partnerships</em>. No single country can tackle today´s and future challenges alone. Whether it is international security, finance or trade, environmental issues or global health risks such as the current <em>Coronavirus</em> – we are all dependent on each other. </p> <p>Therefore, it is crucial for any country to cooperate closely with others, and to have a strong <em>foothold</em> – regionally and internationally. </p> <p>In the case of Iceland, this we ensure through Nordic and Nordic-Baltic cooperation, as members of NATO, the OSCE and the Council of Europe, as well as the UN and its organization, not forgetting our firm place in Europe through the Agreement on the European Economic Area – &nbsp;the EEA. </p> <p>In the web of international relations, bilateral contacts are also critical. </p> <p>Here, Iceland´s bilateral defence agreement with the US, which dates back to the Second World War, remains a key pillar of our security. </p> <p>We obviously also value our bilateral relations with other countries, as it is our firm belief that our interests are best taken care of in close cooperation with others, in a rule-based international system. </p> <p>Second,<em> participation. </em>While we certainly benefit from being members of international organizations and regimes, every country also needs to contribute to its work.&nbsp; As in all relations, we need to find the right balance between “give-and-take”.</p> <p>Here, a certain degree of resourcefulness is required, especially for a country like Iceland. Smaller countries cannot participate in everything, let alone everywhere. We simply do not have the financial means or the manpower. </p> <p>But by having clear priorities and a strong focus we can contribute in certain areas in a meaningful manner. </p> <p>Latvia´s emphasis on strategic communications at NATO, with the Centre of Excellence in Riga, exemplifies this. It demonstrates that a country of little less than 2 million inhabitants can really make a difference to an Alliance that counts almost a billion people.</p> <p>Iceland´s focus on gender equality, in particular on the role of men in that regard, is another example of how a smaller state can take the lead on certain issues. </p> <p>Let us also not forget that while countries may differ in population size, there are usually only a handful of representatives from each country at international meetings. </p> <p>Often the delegations from Iceland and Latvia are similar in size as delegations from Germany, the US, India or China. I am not implying that the distribution of power is equal in the international system, or that smaller states have the same influence as larger ones. </p> <p>Still, through hard work, solid preparation and expertise, smaller countries can really make their contribution count.&nbsp; </p> <p>Thereby, you have a much stronger foothold when you need something back. By the same token, a country that only emerges when its own narrow interests are at stake, is not very likely to succeed. </p> <p>Finally, <em>perseverance</em>. Here I am referring to the fact that international relations are not a race – they are more like a marathon, without an end.</p> <p>True, short term gains are enticing, and it can be tempting only to pick the low-hanging fruit. But first and foremost, states need a long-term view on their key interests and how to safeguard and pursue them. </p> <p>It takes time to build up solid relations with other states, and they also need to be maintained. Sometimes we take good relations for granted, therefore running the risk of weakening them. </p> <p>This is why good friends and neighbours should also meet regularly, and review how they can consolidate and strengthen their already good relations. </p> <p>These three elements – partnerships, participation and perseverance – have all been visible in Iceland´s foreign affairs in the last year. </p> <p>It was a busy year, as we had the pleasure and the privilege to chair the Nordic Council of Ministers, the N5 and the NB8 Foreign Minister´s cooperation, as well as the NB8 cooperation at the World Bank which is in fact still ongoing.</p> <p>Last but not least – Iceland assumed the Chairmanship of the Arctic Council, for two years. This is both an exciting and challenging time to serve as chair, and it is a responsibility that we cherish.</p> <p>The Arctic region is witnessing drastic changes that are taking place at an unprecedented pace. In Iceland, like elsewhere in the region, the effects of climate change are evident. </p> <p>You may have seen in the news recently that one of our glaciers, which used to be called Ok – meaning “a load”, has now disappeared completely. </p> <p>In the Arctic, temperatures are rising at more than twice the global annual average, with various effects on the environment, as well as economic and social implications.</p> <p>Across the region, warming temperatures are leading to:</p> <ul> <li>opening up of new sea routes, </li> <li>easier access to natural resources, and</li> <li>increased marine tourism <p>but also:</p> </li> <li>rising sea levels, </li> <li>changes in migratory patterns and biodiversity, and </li> <li>ocean acidification.</li> </ul> <p>All these factors – both perceived opportunities and evident challenges – will have a great impact within and beyond the Arctic. </p> <p>Consequently, we see more interest in Arctic affairs, signifying a substantial shift in international priorities since Iceland last held the Chairmanship in the beginning of the century.</p> <p>To address the challenges and take sensible advantage of the opportunities, we need active and responsible political leadership, as well as extensive and constructive cooperation among stakeholders.</p> <p>The slogan of our Chairmanship of the Arctic Council – “Together towards a Sustainable Arctic” – frames this responsibility clearly. </p> <p>The Icelandic Chairmanship emphasizes the importance of focusing equally on all three pillars of sustainable development: environmental protection, economic growth and social inclusion. </p> <p>This is reflected in our Chairmanship priorities, where we highlight the <em>Arctic marine environment, climate and green energy solutions, </em>and<em> people and communities of the Arctic.</em></p> <p>The oceans are essential for global sustainable development. They cover the largest part of the Arctic region, and for Iceland it is only natural that we choose to focus on the ocean during our Chairmanship.</p> <p>The economic prosperity of coastal communities in the Arctic is very much based on the sustainable harvest of marine resources – on fish and other resources from the sea. </p> <p>We want to improve the utilization of marine resources through new projects focused on innovation and efficiency. The so-called B<em>lue Bioeconomy</em> has considerable potential for driving sustainable economic growth and benefit communities.</p> <p>But focusing on the utilization of the catch has limited significance if we fail to safeguard our oceans. </p> <p>Ocean pollution and acidification are of grave concern. The Arctic Council’s subsidiary bodies have carried out very important work in this field, which continues during our Chairmanship.</p> <p>With increased marine traffic and economic activities in Arctic waters, we must also maintain a focus on building Search and Rescue capacity and cooperative mechanisms. We need to be able to respond quickly and effectively to accidents and environmental emergencies.</p> <p>It is clear that we must take action, and we must also base our actions on the best available scientific knowledge. To that end, the Icelandic government will host an International Symposium on <em>plastics in the Arctic</em> in April and we will co-host the third Arctic Science Ministerial meeting, with Japan, in Tokyo in November.</p> <p>To tackle the region’s most serious challenges, such as the effects of climate change, we need an inclusive, knowledge-driven approach. For this reason, we have emphasized close consultations with the Council’s Permanent Participants, as well as strengthened cooperation with Arctic Council Observers, which include states from non-Arctic regions, as well as NGOs and international organizations.</p> <p>We have also promoted closer collaboration with the Arctic Economic Council, which shares our interests in sustainable and responsible economic development, to the benefit of the region´s four million inhabitants. </p> <p>Ladies and gentlemen,</p> <p>Iceland was for centuries one of the poorest countries in Europe. Our geographical isolation, harsh climate and frequent natural disasters made Iceland a difficult place to live in for our ancestors. </p> <p>However, the sustainable use of natural resources has helped us develop into a prosperous nation.</p> <p>This transformation is grounded on two key factors. </p> <p>First, turning away from coal and oils to renewable energy. Today, almost 97% of all houses in Iceland are heated using green energy, thereof almost 90% geothermal. </p> <p>I should mention that Iceland has agreed to reduce its greenhouse gas emissions by 40% by 2030 and the Government aims for a carbon neutral Iceland by 2040.</p> <p>The second factor was turning away from unsustainable fisheries to responsible resource management. </p> <p>These “green” turns, in my view, were two of Iceland’s most important policy decisions in the last century. Borne out of practical need, they were not only right, but necessary to be able to bring our country to the next level of development.</p> <p>The Blue Bioeconomy concept that I mentioned before is in fact linked to the establishment of our current fisheries management system. </p> <p>After gaining full control of our Exclusive Economic Zone (200 nautical miles), we continued to overfish most of our fish stocks for years. By the 1980s, Iceland was forced to face the cold reality of collapsing stocks and over-investment in the fishing sector. </p> <p>Thankfully, responsible policies were adopted to prevent a permanent depletion of our stocks and increase productivity, leading to the introduction of our present fisheries management system, which is science-based and ensures sustainable fishing.</p> <p>The Blue Bioeconomy takes this thinking further. Not only are we committed to sustainable fishing but focusing on increasing the <em>value</em> of catches by cutting waste and maximizing utilization. Here, innovation and biotechnological solutions are key. </p> <p>We are still learning, but utilization of living marine catches has been improved dramatically and some Icelandic companies have even managed to eliminate all waste of biomass.</p> <p>I could name as an example an innovative company in a small fishing village in the north of Iceland that is making a product out of shrimp shells that serves to fight inflammation in the human body (company called <em>Bennís</em> and the product is called <em>Benecta</em>). </p> <p>The development process started more than 20 years ago, after a TV journalist filmed the polluted dock by the shrimp processing plant, filled with reddish shell waste that nobody made use of. </p> <p>Instead of turning defensive, the owner of the plant took a hard look at his practices and chose innovation over inaction. Today, this product is sold to overseas markets, bringing additional revenue and foreign currency earnings. </p> <p>Other entrepreneurs in Iceland are producing collagen supplements from fish. (Collagen is supposed to keep you looking young – and as you can see, I take it every day!) </p> <p>Yet another company has developed a method to extract enzymes from fish skin that is revolutionizing the treatment of wounds. Its products are sold all over the world. This has enabled highly educated people to return to their old hometowns and find or create suitable jobs.</p> <p>Parts of marine resources that were earlier considered waste and thrown back in the ocean, are now being used to produce high-quality products with much greater value than the traditional fish filet. </p> <p>To sum up, it is high time for closer cooperation in the Arctic. We need to respond to climate change and ocean pollution and acidification. </p> <p>We must support research and scientific initiatives. We must ensure peace and stability in our region and avoid a race for resources. </p> <p>The Arctic also offers an opportunity to demonstrate how responsible states can cooperate, respecting international law, thereby laying the foundations for a prosperous future for the people of the Arctic. Only by working together can we move “Towards a Sustainable Arctic”.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Ladies and gentlemen,</p> <p>In my talk today I have focused on two things. </p> <p>Firstly, on the question how smaller states can navigate the sometimes rough seas of international politics, and how having a strong foothold through active, long-term participation is crucial to our safety and prosperity. </p> <p>Second, I have discussed the opportunities and challenges in the Arctic, from the perspective of Iceland´s chairmanship in the Arctic Council, and on how the blue bioeconomy can contribute to both sustainability and economic growth. </p> <p>Global climate change requires all of us to do more – and faster – not only in the Arctic but around the world.</p> <p>Allow me to conclude by saying that this is not only the role of Governments or Foreign Ministers. </p> <p>Preventing and adapting to climate change, and ensuring a safe and sustainable future, will require the joint effort of all of us: Governments, businesses, universities and research communities, the media, and perhaps most importantly– the general public.</p> <p>History shows that when the <em>people themselves</em> stand up, others will follow, and the future takes new course.&nbsp; </p> <p>One such pivotal moment was on display here in the Baltic states roughly 30 years ago when around 2 million people from Latvia, Estonia and Lithuania formed a 675 km long human chain to express their desire for independence. </p> <p>Some of you in the audience today may have been there in 1989.</p> <p>This remarkable act of courage demonstrated what can be achieved when nations exercise solidarity and work hand-in-hand, as you and your neighbours to the north and south did during these dramatic days. </p> <p>The rest is history, a history that you can be proud of and we are certainly honoured to be a small part of. </p> <p>I thank you for your attention and look forward to your questions.&nbsp; </p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>* * * </p>
24. janúar 2020Blá ör til hægriMikið í húfi<p><span>Í dag er vika uns Bretland gengur formlega úr Evrópusambandinu og þar með úr Evrópska efnahagssvæðinu. Íslensk stjórnvöld hafa á síðustu mánuðum undirbúið viðræður við Breta um hvernig framtíðarsambandi Íslands og Bretlands verður háttað. Þýðing hagfellds samnings við þennan mikilvæga nágranna okkar verður seint ofmetin. Bretland er stærsti einstaki útflutningsmarkaður Íslands hvað vöruviðskipti varðar og samskipti þjóðanna hafa alla tíð verið náin.<br /> <br /> Þegar ég tók við embætti utanríkisráðherra fyrir þremur árum gerði ég hagsmunagæslu vegna útgöngunnar að forgangsmáli. Að mörgu þurfti að hyggja, sérstaklega ef Bretar og ESB næðu ekki samningi. Okkur tókst að tryggja lykilhagsmuni Íslands óháð því hvort útgangan hefði orðið með eða án samnings. Í viðræðunum sem nú fara í hönd byggjum við á þeim trausta grunni sem þá var lagður.<br /> <br /> Bretar stefna að fullkomnum aðskilnaði við Evrópusambandið fyrir lok ársins og því ríður á að undirbúa samningaviðræðurnar hratt og vel. Fyrr í mánuðinum komu fulltrúar stjórnsýslu, hagsmunasamtaka og atvinnulífs til fundar í utanríkisráðuneytinu til að stilla saman strengi. Samninganefnd Íslands fyrir þessar þýðingarmiklu viðræður hefur þegar verið skipuð og valin manneskja í hverju rúmi.<br /> <br /> Undirbúningurinn miðast við að gera víðtækan efnahags- og samstarfssamning við Bretland. Á sama tíma erum við viðbúin því að sá þröngi tímarammi sem okkur er úthlutaður gæti þýtt að hluti viðræðnanna verði að fara fram síðar. Samningsmarkmiðum Íslands verður eftir atvikum fylgt eftir í samfloti með öðrum EFTA-ríkjum innan EES eða með tvíhliða samningum Íslands og Bretlands. Tekið verður mið af viðræðum Bretlands og ESB þar sem það á við og samræmist hagsmunum Íslands.<br /> <br /> Ekki verður hvikað frá því höfuðmarkmiði að fá að minnsta kosti sambærileg viðskiptakjör og önnur ríki á EES-svæðinu og freista þess um leið að ná fram atriðum er varða sérstöðu Íslands og kjarnahagsmuni.</span></p> <p><span>&nbsp;</span></p> <p><span><em>Greinin birtist fyrst í Fréttablaðinu.</em></span></p>
23. janúar 2020Blá ör til hægriRæða ráðherra á fundi útflutnings- og markaðsráðsFUNDUR Í ÚTFLUTNINGS- OG MARKAÐSRÁÐI<br /> 23. JANÚAR 2020<br /> <br /> RÆÐA UTANRÍKISRÁÐHERRA<br /> <br /> Góðir gestir<br /> <br /> Til er saga úr Kalda stríðinu. Bið ykkur að halda kyrru fyrir í sætunum, óþarfi að bæta á kaffið, sagan er mjög stutt.<br /> <br /> Skömmu eftir að Mikhail Gorbachev tók við sem leiðtogi Sovétríkjanna árið 1985 sendi hann aðstoðarmann sinn til Lundúna til að afla upplýsinga um þann efnahagsviðsnúning sem orðið hafði á Bretlandseyjum árin þar á undan. Bretar tóku vitaskuld vel á móti aðstoðarmanninum og fóru með hann í skoðunarferð um höfuðborgina. <br /> <br /> Hann var heillaður af því sem hann sá, en eitt vakti samt mesta athygli hjá honum; hvergi var að sjá biðröð eftir brauði, ólíkt því sem átti við í Moskvu þar sem hvarvetna var bið eftir nauðsynjavörum, ekki síst eftir brauði.<br /> <br /> Aðstoðarmaðurinn skildi ekkert í þessu og sagði við gestgjafa sína að heima í Sovétríkjunum hefðu færustu sérfræðingar legið yfir því árum saman, reiknað út og gert áætlanir um hvernig best mætti tryggja framboð á brauði til handa almenningi. Þrátt fyrir það væru endalausar biðraðir eftir brauði út um alla Moskvu. Hér í London væru hins vegar alls engar biðraðir.<br /> <br /> Aðstoðarmaðurinn var svo heillaður af þessu mikla afreki Bretanna að hann vildi ólmur hitta þann sérfræðing sem væri ábyrgur fyrir því að tryggja nægt framboð af brauði í London og fræðast um hvernig hann færi eiginlega að þessu, hvert væri leyndarmálið á bakvið þessa miklu snilld.<br /> <br /> En vitaskuld var enginn ábyrgur fyrir þessu verkefni.<br /> <br /> Lögmál hins frjálsa markaðar tryggðu framboðið. Þetta fullkomna skipulag var grundvallað á nægilegum skorti á miðstýringu og áætlanagerð opinberra aðila. Það var og er snilldin.<br /> <br /> Góðir gestir<br /> <br /> Það er okkur öllum hollt að rifja reglulega upp skaðsemi opinberra afskipta, við erum því miður of fljót að gleyma, og fyrr en varir höfum við tekið upp ýmsa ósiði forræðishyggjunnar sem reynslan hefur fyrir löngu dæmt til ótímabundinnar vistar á ruslahaugum sögunnar.<br /> <br /> Þessi upprifjun á brýnt erindi við okkur nú þegar einkaaðilar og hið opinbera stilla saman strengi um sókn á erlenda markaði. <br /> <br /> Það var aldrei hugmyndin að hið opinbera hefði forgöngu um það mál. Það var aldrei hugmyndin að stjórnmálamenn ættu að ákveða það fyrir íslensk fyrirtæki hvar væri best að stunda viðskipti. <br /> <br /> Það var nefnilega ekki út af engu sem við börðumst fyrir því að Íslandsstofa yrði rekin á einkaréttarlegum grunni, sjálfstæð í sínum störfum, og að einkaaðilar hefðu úrslitavald við þessa stefnumótun. Það tókst á endanum.<br /> <br /> Þetta var síður en svo sjálfgefin niðurstaða. Því var haldið fram niðurá þingi að það væri mun einfaldara gagnvart stjórnsýslu- og upplýsingalögum, lögum um opinber útboð og hvaðeina, að Íslandsstofa væri ríkisstofnun en ekki einkavædd, eins og það var kallað með harmkvælum, eins og við værum að bera út mislinga.<br /> <br /> Ég hef hamrað á því í gegnum allt þetta ferli að við eigum að vinna sem eitt lið á útivelli, íslensk fyrirtæki með liðsinni hins opinbera, á forsendum atvinnulífsins með þeim tækjum sem ríkið eitt hefur á hendi, þ.e.a.s. utanríkisviðskiptaþjónustunni og forræði á samningagerð við erlend ríki.<br /> <br /> Á forsendum atvinnulífsins. Þetta er lykilsetning í þessari nálgun allri saman. Atvinnulífið þarf að vita að hvað það vill og hvert markmiðið er. Aðkoma stjórnvalda á ekki að felast í öðru en að ryðja úr vegi hindrunum sem kunna að verða í vegi fyrir því að markmiðið náist. <br /> <br /> Hugmyndin um að vera eitt lið á útivelli kann að virðast einföld en hún það ekki. Hún er margbrotin, ekki síst vegna þeirrar innbyggðu áráttu hins opinbera að vilja hafa vit fyrir öðrum.<br /> <br /> Ef við náum að koma hlutunum þannig fyrir að ríkið geti lagt sitt af mörkum til að ryðja hindrunum úr vegi þá hefur þetta starf borið árangur.<br /> <br /> Og þegar við tölum um hindranir, þá skulum við ekki gleyma þeim hindrunum sem felast í umsvifum og afskiptum ríkisins sjálfs, og skaðsemi þeirra fyrir framþróun og verðmætasköpun.<br /> <br /> Við sjáum því miður tilhneigingu í þá átt að ríkisvaldið standi að hlutum sem ganga þvert gegn því sem atvinnulífið er að sameinast um í þessari stefnumótunarvinnu og í víðara samhengi.<br /> <br /> Útflutnings- og markaðsráð þarf að hafa vakandi auga fyrir þessari tilhneigingu og spyrna við fótum þar sem því verður við komið.<br /> <br /> Íslensk fyrirtæki og íslenskt atvinnulíf býr við náttúrlegt samkeppnisforskot í ýmsu tilliti, ekki síst þegar kemur að því sem verðmætast verður til framtíðar litið, náttúrulegum orkugjöfum. <br /> <br /> Við þurfum að sameinast um það að kasta því samkeppnisforskoti ekki á glæ og það er mikið gleðiefni að sjá hversu tryggilega þessum sjónarmiðum er fyrir komið í fyrirliggjandi stefnu útflutnings- og markaðsráðs. <br /> <br /> Góðir gestir.<br /> <br /> Enginn þarf að efast um að færustu sérfræðingar Sovétríkjanna hafi gert sitt allra besta við að skipuleggja og reyna að tryggja nægt framboð af brauði til handa almenningi þar í landi.<br /> <br /> Höfum þetta ávallt í huga þegar hið opinbera ætlar að taka hlutina í sínar hendur til að bjarga málunum. Íslensk fyrirtæki hafa nú markað leiðina, ríkið getur veitt liðsinni en mestu skiptir að það þvælist ekki fyrir á þessari mikilvægu vegferð. <br />
20. janúar 2020Blá ör til hægriOpnunarávarp ráðherra á málfundi um framtíð þróunarsamvinnu<p>20. janúar kl. 18.00, Fosshótel Höfðatorgi. </p> <p>Dear guests.</p> <p>Let me start by taking the opportunity to welcome the Chair of the Development Assistance Committee of the OECD, Ms. Susanna Moorehead to Iceland. I am very pleased to have you with us here today and I am looking forward to hearing your insights on the future of development cooperation. </p> <p>Iceland has been a member of the DAC since 2013. During this time, we have had unique opportunities for networking, peer-learning and growth. We highly value the DAC as an important venue to exchange experiences and best practices, as well as finding solutions to new development challenges. And we look forward to a continued constructive collaboration with the committee and its members going forward.</p> <p>For a better and more sustainable future for all we need to work together to address the challenges at hand, building on prior progress in poverty reduction with the core principle in mind of leaving no-one behind.</p> <p>And let me assure you that Iceland will continue to do its part in this regard. We are committed to assist where needed, share our expertise, help build capacities in key areas and uphold the principles of effective development cooperation.</p> <p>In my remarks, I will attempt to underline how Iceland is adapting its development cooperation to changing international context, responding to emerging challenges.</p> <p>First, a new five-year Development policy was adopted by our parliament last year – framing our priorities going forward. As a small donor, we cannot do everything, we need to focus on where we can have the most impact and I believe our new policy helps steer us in the right direction in this regard. </p> <p>The policy takes a point of departure from the SDGs, with a strong focus on the least developed countries and reaching the furthest behind first, and at the same time building effective social infrastructures, ensuring the sustainable use of natural resources and enhancing resilience through humanitarian assistance and peacebuilding. </p> <p>Gender equality, the environment and human rights are even more prominent in the new policy than before, both as cross cutting issues and as specific goals. We are reinforcing our results-based management and strengthening our focus on the private sector, thereby answering the call of donors and developing countries to step up on financing towards the SDGs.</p> <p>Now, I would especially like to expand on a few priority areas that I feel warrant further attention, namely Human Rights, Gender Equality and involvement of the Private Sector.</p> <p style="margin-left: 40px;">1. Regressive trends on the<strong><span style="text-decoration: underline;"> human rights</span></strong> front in many countries, evidenced by shrinking civic space, threats to freedom of speech and increasing numbers of incidents of human rights violations is a growing concern. We must ensure that affected populations enjoy basic human rights and dignity and that vulnerable and disadvantaged groups are not left behind. Iceland is firmly committed to strengthening and promoting human rights globally, and in line with our new international development cooperation policy, we now apply a human rights-based approach in all our development cooperation.</p> <p style="margin-left: 40px;">2. <strong><span style="text-decoration: underline;">Gender equality and women´s empowerment</span></strong> underpin and sustain economic and social development. Unfortunately, a large part of ODA worldwide does not target gender equality and we need to reverse this trend.</p> <p style="margin-left: 40px;">From Iceland’s point of view, the Gender Equality Policy Marker of the OECD/DAC has served us well. It has been a good tool to ensure that our development cooperation efforts take gender equality perspectives into account, and we have been striving to ensure that at least 80% of our aid targets gender equality. </p> <p style="margin-left: 40px;">Gender equality is an integral element of the 2030 Agenda and we will remain committed on this front, to better respond to the critical needs of women and girls.</p> <p style="margin-left: 40px;">3. <strong><span style="text-decoration: underline;">Private sector-led growth</span></strong> remains one of the most important drivers of sustainable development given the right policy environment and regulatory framework. The private sector is well placed to tackle some of the major challenges in developing countries, including under-employment. Since 2018 we have placed increased emphasis on collaboration with the private sector, including by starting a new SDG fund for private enterprises. In this way, we hope to engage Icelandic expertise and encourage the private sector to play a leading role in realizing Agenda 2030. In this context, it is important to respond to the call made by the developing countries to involve private sector actors in order to accelerate financing.</p> <p>Ladies and gentlemen.</p> <p>Last but not least I would like to emphasize that we are blessed with committed and knowledgeable personnel dealing with development issues in the Ministry. But that is not enough, we need to have an effective organizational structure in order to support our work. </p> <p>As some of you might recall ICEIDA was merged with the Ministry a few years back – a good step in my view … but not a sufficient one. </p> <p>Why? </p> <p>Because in spite of the merger I had the feeling that we needed to take the final steps towards a full integration. Institutional mechanisms supported by clear political commitment and integration of polices were called for. </p> <p>Therefore, I have taken <span style="text-decoration: underline;">measures</span> to bring the development cooperation – one of the cornerstones of our foreign policy – to the innermost core of the Ministry‘s work. </p> <p style="margin-left: 40px;">• As of 1 January this year, the office I carry has been named the Minister for Foreign Affairs <span style="text-decoration: underline;">and International Development Cooperation.</span> </p> <p style="margin-left: 40px;">• Concurrent to this, the teams dealing with International politics and International Development now work within the same unit and on one floor at the Ministry. Valuable expertise is shared, policy coherence enhanced and synergies harvested in favor of a joint vision for achieving Agenda 2030.</p> <p style="margin-left: 40px;">• The end of last year also marked another important milestone for Icelandic development cooperation. After years of fruitful collaboration with the United Nations University we decided last year to part ways and in turn form a new partnership with UNESCO. The newly established Centre under the auspices of UNESCO brings four existing training programmes on geothermal energy, fisheries, land restoration and gender equality under one umbrella. Over 1500 young professionals from developing countries have been trained by the programmes in Iceland through the years. Today, around 100 complete training each year, not to mention all who benefit from the numerous short courses held in developing countries. The new centre has been appropriately named GRÓ, which refers to a seed in the Icelandic language. By sowing seeds around the world, we see knowledge and expertise grow around the world to contribute to sustainable development outcomes.</p> <p>I am convinced that these changes will make our work more effective and coherent, as well as strengthen our profile internationally. </p> <p>In concluding: Many thanks to all of you have joined us here today. I look forward to a lively discussion and exchanges of views that will help us pave the way forward. For my part, I am confident that the future of Icelandic development cooperation is bright!</p> <br />
11. desember 2019Blá ör til hægriÁvarp á hátíðarfundi í tilefni alþjóðamannréttindadagsins<span>Hátíðarfundur í tilefni alþjóðamannréttindadagsins<br /> Háskóla Íslands, 10. desember 2019<br /> Ávarp utanríkisráðherra,<br /> Guðlaugs Þórs Þórðarsonar<br /> <br /> <br /> Ágæta samkoma!<br /> <span style="white-space:pre;"> </span><br /> Í dag fögnum við alþjóðlegum degi mannréttinda. Dagsetningin, 10. desember, tengist því vafalítið að það var á þessum degi fyrir sjötíu og einu ári síðan sem allsherjarþing&nbsp; Sameinuðu þjóðanna samþykkti mannréttindayfirlýsinguna, eitt af grundvallarskjölum í gjörvallri sögu samtakanna.<br /> <br /> Á næsta ári fögnum við sjötíu og fimm ára afmæli Sameinuðu þjóðanna. Þeirra tímamóta verður minnst með ýmsum hætti og vafalítið verður starf Sameinuðu þjóðanna í þágu mannréttinda í stóru hlutverki.<br /> <br /> Þar höfum við Íslendingar góða sögu að segja. Staða mannréttinda á Íslandi er góð í samanburði við önnur lönd þótt lengi megi gott bæta. Mannréttindi hafa líka verið leiðarljós í utanríkisstefnu landsins og íslensk stjórnvöld hafa lagt sig fram um að vera hvarvetna málsvarar mannréttinda. Það á ekki síst við undanfarna átján mánuði sem Ísland hefur átt sæti í mannréttindaráði Sameinuðu þjóðanna.<br /> <br /> Ágætu gestir – distinguished guests!<br /> <br /> Iceland will end its eighteen-month term on the Human Rights Council in only three weeks’ time.<br /> <br /> It has been a privilege for us to serve on this body – the primary global forum for discussing human rights.&nbsp;<br /> <br /> It has also proven to be a challenge – but a challenge we feel we have embraced, fulfilling most of the goals we set ourselves in the beginning.<br /> <br /> In particular, we promised to prioritize gender equality and women’s human rights, LGBTI-rights and the rights of the child. We also raised certain country situations that we felt had been neglected. We continued to lead on the issue of human rights in the Philippines, with a resolution on that topic passing in the Council in July.<br /> <br /> We furthermore took the lead on human rights in Saudi Arabia when we delivered, in March of this year, on behalf of 36 states, the first Joint Statement in the Council on Saudi Arabia.&nbsp;<br /> <br /> The Joint Statement raised the issue of the killing of journalist Jamal Khashoggi and more broadly addressed the lack of respect for women´s rights in Saudi Arabia.&nbsp;<br /> <br /> The Joint Statement mentioned specifically ten human rights defenders – nine women and one man – who were in prison at the time of the Joint Statement.<br /> <br /> It is a great privilege for me, in this context, to note that with us here today, as our main speaker, is Lina al-Hathloul. Her sister is one of the ten mentioned in the Joint Statement in the Human Rights Council in March.&nbsp;<br /> <br /> Loujain Al-Hathloul became world famous a few years ago when she – a woman – dared to drive a car in Saudi Arabia, something that was until last year strictly forbidden by the Saudi authorities.<br /> <br /> Lina will be telling us more about her sister´s case and her own battle on behalf of her sister, Loujain. I just want to say that I applaud Loujain´s courage, and Lina´s own courage.We all hope sincerely that Loujain will soon be released from prison as well as all other human rights defenders like her.<br /> <br /> Hearing Lina´s story does help us appreciate how far we have come here in Iceland. We have work to do at home in the field of human rights but we must also sometimes remind ourselves that we are privileged in so many ways. And that we – and others – must speak out on behalf of those whose human rights are violated. Iceland may not be the most populous member state of the United Nations but we have a voice – and we should use it.<br /> <br /> Ladies and gentlemen,&nbsp;<br /> <br /> One of the things we wanted to do here today was to invite a few distinguished guests to discuss the current global situation in terms of human rights and to discuss what small states like Iceland can reasonably be expected to accomplish when they are elected to the Human Rights Council.&nbsp;<br /> <br /> One question that immediately comes to mind, and which I am sometimes asked, is whether it makes any difference when a number of states join forces to criticize or raise concerns over the human rights situation in a particular country.<br /> <br /> The pessimist is likely to say NO. That addressing matters in multilateral fora such as the Human Rights Council makes no difference at all – that it is all just talk.&nbsp;<br /> <br /> Others have argued that by keeping a particular situation on the agenda of bodies such as the Human Rights Council one is making sure things do not deteriorate even further at worst. And at best, one is helping put pressure on governments to improve conditions, to change their policies and approach.&nbsp;<br /> <br /> On the Philippines I have heard the latter argument from people such as Maria Ressa, the respected journalist from the Philippines who was here in Iceland recently. She thanked us for our leadership on that issue and argued that otherwise people such as herself would have been fighting alone, and would be more exposed to various threats than they already are.<br /> <br /> On Saudi Arabia, it is a fact that authorities there have in recent months appeared to be making moves to changing their approach. They have announced that some of Saudi Arabia’s most restrictive guardianship rules – that stipulate for instance that a woman cannot travel without the approval of a male relative – will be abolished. They have also recently made it possible for women to drive vehicles, under certain guidelines.<br /> <br /> These are positive developments, even if these seem to us like small steps.&nbsp;<br /> <br /> What we should remember is that it is by no means certain that these changes would be taking place if the global community wasn´t watching the situation in Saudi Arabia closely. Maintaining pressure is so important, trying to convince the government it is both right and just, as well as beneficial for their society, to guarantee human rights for women. In that effort Iceland´s voice can sound as loud as any other.<br /> <br /> What we also need to remember is that Loujain al-Hathloul is still in prison, and so are many others like her. Although Saudi authorities seem to be moving in the right direction much more needs to happen – and we should help that change take place.<br /> <br /> Ladies and gentlemen. I want to thank you all, in particular our foreign participants, for being with us here today. I hope and trust the discussion will be both interesting and enlightening. Last but not least I want to say: Happy Human Rights Day!<br /> <br /> </span>
29. nóvember 2019Blá ör til hægriÁvarp á norðurslóðaráðstefnunni A Clean and Global North í Helsinki<p><span>Ávarp ráðherra á ráðstefnunni „A Clean and Global North“<br /> <br /> Helsinki, 29. nóvember 2019<br /> Concluding remarks<br /> Mr. Guðlaugur Þór Þórðarson,<br /> Minister for Foreign Affairs of Iceland<br /> <br /> Excellencies, ladies and gentlemen,<br /> It is a great pleasure and an honour to be with you here today, in the very room where the first Northern Dimension foreign ministers’ meeting took place, to celebrate our 20th Anniversary!&nbsp;</span></p> <p><span>Let me begin by commending Finland on their level of foresight and leadership when it comes to Arctic affairs and in identifying ways to create synergies and develop regional cooperation in the North.&nbsp;<br /> </span></p> <p><span>I would also like to highlight my Finnish colleague’s, Pekka Haavisto’s contributions to the development of regional cooperation in the Arctic. You may not all know this but Pekka is actually an expert on Arctic affairs and an author of a report that still is regularly cited in Arctic circles.&nbsp;<br /> </span></p> <p><span>This report, a Review of the Arctic Council Structures, was written in his former life as an academic, way back in 2001. And it is safe to say that time has done both the report and its author justice.&nbsp;<br /> </span></p> <p><span>Now speaking of the Arctic, as most of you well know, Iceland currently holds the chairmanship of the Arctic Council. It is a responsibility that we relish as it is truly both an exciting and challenging time to serve as the chair.&nbsp;<br /> </span></p> <p><span>Our region is confronting a pace of change not experienced in modern times. This includes continuous, noticeable and fateful warming of the Arctic climate which has led to:</span></p> <p><span>•<span style="white-space:pre;"> </span>Opening up of new sea routes,&nbsp;<br /> •<span style="white-space:pre;"> </span>increased access to natural resources,&nbsp;<br /> •<span style="white-space:pre;"> </span>increased tourism,&nbsp;<br /> </span></p> <p><span>but also<br /> </span></p> <p><span>•<span style="white-space:pre;"> </span>Rising sea levels due to glacial reduction,&nbsp;<br /> •<span style="white-space:pre;"> </span>changes in biodiversity, and&nbsp;<br /> •<span style="white-space:pre;"> </span>ocean acidification<br /> </span></p> <p><span>All these issues, both perceived opportunities, and obvious challenges, will have an impact within and beyond the Arctic.&nbsp;<br /> </span></p> <p><span>Addressing these challenges, as well as taking responsible advantage of the opportunities, requires active and responsible political leadership as well as extensive and constructive cooperation among the different actors, including Nation States, Indigenous groups and NGOs. The slogan of our Chairmanship of the Arctic Council – Together towards a sustainable Arctic – frames this responsibility very clearly.&nbsp;<br /> </span></p> <p><span>Under the overarching theme of sustainable development Iceland emphasizes strongly the importance of looking equally into all its three aspects:&nbsp; &nbsp;<br /> </span></p> <p><span>•<span style="white-space:pre;"> </span>the environment, where we are looking specifically at green energy solutions,&nbsp;<br /> •<span style="white-space:pre;"> </span>the economy, with an emphasis on the Blue BioEconomy,&nbsp;<br /> •<span style="white-space:pre;"> </span>and societal aspects, such as building resilience, engagement of Arctic youth and gender equality.&nbsp;<br /> </span></p> <p><span>It is our firm belief that to tackle todays biggest challenges, such as climate change, we need an inclusive knowledge-driven approach. For this reason, we have emphasized increased cooperation with Arctic Council Observers, which include observer states from far away regions as well as NGOs and international organizations, and actors such as the Arctic Economic Council, who share our interests of sustainable and responsible economic development in the region.&nbsp;<br /> </span></p> <p><span>And speaking of challenging conditions,&nbsp;<br /> </span></p> <p><span>Ladies and gentlemen,&nbsp;<br /> </span>recent examples have indeed demonstrated the importance of building Search and Rescue capacity and cooperative mechanisms that meet the increasing needs in the North Atlantic and Arctic region. In this respect, Iceland is looking into the possibility of establishing a search and rescue cluster in Iceland, preferably in cooperation with our Arctic partners. The significant growth in activities and marine traffic we have already experienced, in addition to what is already expected, demands that we plan responsibly and build our collective capacity accordingly. We need to be able to respond quickly and effectively to environmental and marine accidents.&nbsp;</p> <p><span>Ladies and gentlemen,<br /> We all recognize, that the challenges we face today will not be dealt with or solved by the people of the North alone, not solely by our Governments, not solely by our experts, not solely by businesses, International organizations nor NGO’s.&nbsp; It is only through collective action that we will be able to succeed.&nbsp;</span></p> <p><span>We also need to inspire hope and engagement in our youth and in our societies at large. We must do it through inclusion and resilience building. And even though failure really isn’t an option, we must not let the fear of failure lead to inaction. Success is usually only achieved through trial and error and trial again. And yes, error comes with a cost. The alternative is however worse and comes at an even greater cost.&nbsp;<br /> </span></p> <p><span>It is a lesson we have learned back home in Iceland time and time again. By the same token we have learned as well, that the reward and benefit of standing up, learning from our past mistakes and building on those lessons learned, is priceless. Transformative even.<br /> </span></p> <p><span>Allow me to share with you some examples:<br /> Sustainable use of natural resources transformed Iceland within the span of less than a century from being one of the poorest countries in Europe into one of its most affluent states.&nbsp;<br /> </span></p> <p><span>This transformation is grounded on two key factors. Firstly, the turn away from coal and oils to renewable energy. Today, over 96,5% of all houses in Iceland are heated with renewable energy sources, thereof are 89,6% geothermal.&nbsp;<br /> </span></p> <p><span>The second factor was to turn away from unsustainable fisheries to responsible resource management, which I will discuss a little later. These “green” decisions, in my view, were two of Iceland’s most important policy decisions in the last century. They were indeed borne out of practical necessities, but they also paved the way for a modern and prosperous society. They were not only right, but the only decisions that could truly bring our country to the next, sustainable level of development.&nbsp;<br /> </span></p> <p><span>Today, Iceland has agreed to reduce its greenhouse gas emissions by 40% by 2030 and the Government aims for a carbon neutral Iceland by 2040. Our pledges to the Paris agreement have been assessed and have been deemed complimentary to a temperature increase within the 2°C in a report by the World-Wide Fund, published earlier this year. That said, the reduction of black carbon emissions certainly needs relentless joint efforts contributing to the implementation of the Paris Agreement. To a certain extent such black carbon related mitigation work is currently being conducted both within the Northern Dimension and the Arctic Council. We depend on their success.<br /> <br /> Ladies and Gentlemen!&nbsp;<br /> We are still learning, but I can tell you that the introduction of the Blue BioEconomy concept in recent years, has had significant positive societal effects in Iceland. This concept is in fact born from the establishment of our current fisheries management system. A system that was developed after some dark years of overfishing first after we acquired control of our fisheries resources. The Blue BioEconomy is in fact a clear example indeed of how one can learn and develop through trial and error.&nbsp;<br /> </span></p> <p><span>Through innovation and biotechnological solutions, we have learned that it is possible to increase considerably the utilization level and value of biomass brought ashore. Some Icelandic companies have even managed to completely eliminate biomass-waste from living marine catches. Only a few years ago, this idea would have been thought of as revolutionary. Today, it is simply considered as sensible business practices.<br /> </span></p> <p><span>Innovators and researchers in a small fishing town in the north of Iceland make a product out of a shrimp shells that fights inflammations in the body. This process started more than 20 years ago after a TV journalist filmed the polluted ocean underneath a fishing factory, filled with reddish shrimp shell waste that nobody made use of. Instead of scolding the journalist for the negative piece of news, the owner of that plant took a hard look at his practices and chose innovation over inaction. Today this product is sold nationally and to overseas markets bringing additional revenue and foreign currency earnings. It has further served as inspiration for further innovation and enabled highly educated people to return and find or establish jobs in their old hometowns.&nbsp;<br /> </span></p> <p><span>Another entrepreneur in a fishing town nearby Reykjavík produces collagen from fish. Collagen is supposed to keep you looking young and fresh – and obviously … I take it every morning!<br /> </span></p> <p><span>These examples represent sustainable development at its finest and in Iceland, this approach laid the foundation for a thriving society and innovation sector. Arguably, this concept of seeking to use every gram and part of a cod or a shrimp represents a very back-to-basics way of thinking, and at the same time a very modern way of thinking – as we all agree that wastefulness is unacceptable.&nbsp;<br /> </span></p> <p><span>Ladies and Gentlemen.<br /> The Northern Dimension is a unique multilateral framework and a successful model of strengthening stability and building confidence in Northern Europe. For Iceland, our main focus within the Northern Dimension is on the Arctic region. The importance of the Arctic was clearly noted in the renewed Northern Dimension was established at the ND Summit in Helsinki in 2006.&nbsp; However, the Arctic component has never really been fully utilized, even though a remarkable share of the ND activities directly benefit the Arctic and the Arctic peoples. And I must say that I truly believe the Northern Dimension policy overall would benefit greatly, if its Arctic Dimension were bolstered.<br /> </span></p> <p><span>Moreover, Iceland welcomes and encourages the increased attention to creating synergies between multilateral cooperation formats in our region. This is necessary to avoid overlaps, enhance cooperation between actors in the Region and avoid duplication. It is clear in my mind that actors such as the Arctic Council and its subsidiary bodies could very much complement the work being done within the Northern Dimension and the same is certainly true for the Barents Euro-Arctic Council, the Nordic Council of Ministers and the Council of Baltic Sea States (CBSS). Closer cooperation and contacts between these regional actors would indeed benefit all of us.&nbsp;</span></p> <p><span><br /> Dear friends,<br /> It is in the interest of all inhabitants of the North that we use every means possible to increase our knowledge of each-other, the region and of what is at stake. And I remain confident that if we approach the challenges and opportunities at hand with a sense of humility, respect for the realities we face, for one another and the enormous responsibility we carry on behalf of future generations, we will be able to make real and meaningful progress for the benefit, prosperity and wellbeing of our peoples.</span></p> <p><span><br /> And finally, dear friends, a very happy 20th Northern Dimension anniversary!<br /> Thank you.<br /> <br /> </span></p>
27. nóvember 2019Blá ör til hægriÁvarp í diplómatísku akademíu rússneska utanríkisráðuneytisins<p style="text-align: left;">Ávarp ráðherra í diplómatísku akademíu rússneska utanríkisráðuneytisins</p> <p style="text-align: left;">Miðvikudaginn 27. nóvember</p> <p style="text-align: left;">&nbsp;</p> <p style="text-align: left;">(Vice-) Rector, Excellencies, Ladies and gentlemen,</p> <p style="text-align: left;">It is a great pleasure for me to be with you here at the Russian Diplomatic Academy in the beautiful city of Moscow.</p> <p style="text-align: left;">Many of you in the audience are the future of Russian diplomacy and who knows, you might be assigned to work on Iceland or the Arctic. I therefore hope my speech today will give you good insights into Iceland’s Arctic policy.</p> <p style="text-align: left;">Today, I will focus on three main topics: First, some of the main challenges we are facing in the Arctic; Second, our Arctic Council chairmanship, and lastly, on the importance of sustainable development.</p> <p style="text-align: left;">Your Foreign Minister and I had a good meeting yesterday and while we may not agree on everything, we have much more that unites us than divides us. This is not least because as Arctic states our interests are intertwined and indivisible and we have much to gain by working closely together. That is why Mr. Lavrov and I signed a Joint Statement on ensuring the continuity of the ongoing work in the Arctic Council when Russia takes over the Chairmanship in the Arctic Council from Iceland in 2021. It sends a very important signal to the Council’s Working Groups that we support the constructive work taking place there until and beyond 2021.</p> <p style="text-align: left;">Ladies and gentlemen,</p> <p style="text-align: left;">Important developments are taking place in the Arctic region. Unprecedented climate and environmental changes. You may have seen in the news recently that one of our glaciers, Ok, has now disappeared completely. The effects of climate change are real in Iceland. And we see more interest in Arctic affairs than ever before. This increased interest mirrors a substantial change in international priorities from what they were 15 years ago, when Iceland last held the chairmanship of the Arctic Council.</p> <p style="text-align: left;">And these changes are already having effects way beyond the region. Rising sea levels, changing weather patterns, mirrored for instance in changes to monsoons in Asia and opening of new sea routes that will affect far away economies.</p> <p style="text-align: left;">The changes we face are also reflected in increased risk of pollution and environmental disasters in the Arctic. This calls for closer cooperation on civilian preparedness and response as well as on search and rescue. Arctic Council agreements and recent exercises are a step in the right direction.</p> <p style="text-align: left;">Moreover, some changes bring us both opportunities and challenges. Increased access to natural resources, increased marine tourism, changes in migratory patterns of fish stocks and changes in biodiversity. All these issues are such in nature that they will require increased, good and constructive cooperation between Arctic partners and with actors outside the Arctic region.</p> <p style="text-align: left;">We all agree that prosperity and wellbeing of all Arctic inhabitants are best secured by ensuring peace, stability and constructive cooperation in the Arctic.</p> <p style="text-align: left;">Successive Icelandic governments have consistently spoken up against militarization of the Arctic beyond the levels seen following the end of the Cold War. This is also manifested in our Arctic Policy, which was adopted unanimously by Althingi, our Parliament, in 2011.</p> <p style="text-align: left;">At the same time, we accept Russia’s right to safeguard legitimate security interests in the region. But I have not shied away from questioning the scope, speed and ambition of Russia’s military build-up in the Arctic. Russia should not misunderstand our concerns. Russia is a leading Arctic nation with unrivalled access to the region and a key partner for us in the Arctic.</p> <p style="text-align: left;">Ladies and gentlemen,</p> <p style="text-align: left;">Since May this year, Iceland holds the chairmanship of the Arctic Council. As you may know it is a two-year chairmanship and we will pass on the gavel to Russia in 2021.</p> <p style="text-align: left;">The heading of our chairmanship programme is <em>Together Towards a Sustainable Arctic</em> and our four priority areas are as follows:</p> <ul> <li style="text-align: left;">First; the Arctic marine environment.</li> <li style="text-align: left;">Second; climate and green energy solutions.</li> <li style="text-align: left;">Third, prosperous and sustainable Arctic communities. </li> <li style="text-align: left;">And fourth; continuing the work for a stronger Arctic Council.</li> </ul> <p style="text-align: left;">The oceans are essential for global sustainable development. They cover the largest part of the Arctic region and given the geographic location of Iceland; it is only natural that we intend to put focus on the ocean during our chairmanship.</p> <p style="text-align: left;">Furthermore, the wellbeing of much of the Arctic population is based on the sustainable harvest of marine resources. We want to improve the utilization of marine resources through new projects focused on innovation and efficiency. When successfully applied, the so-called Blue Bio-Economy project provides positive outcomes for the environment, strengthens the economy and benefits the communities.</p> <p style="text-align: left;">But there is little use in focusing on the utilization of the catch if we don’t safeguard our oceans. Ocean pollution and acidification are of grave concern. The Arctic Council’s subsidiary bodies have carried out very important research in this field and we want further development of these projects.</p> <p style="text-align: left;">It is clear, that we must take action, but we must base our actions on the best available scientific knowledge. Therefore, the Icelandic government will host an International Symposium on plastics in the Arctic in April 2020 and we will also co-host the third Arctic Science Ministerial meeting with Japan in Tokyo in November next year. </p> <p style="text-align: left;">Iceland also wants to maintain the Council’s emphasis on meteorological cooperation and enhance projects on the mapping of reductions of glaciers, a very visible barometer of climate change.</p> <p style="text-align: left;">As I will get to later, when it comes to both green energy solutions and the so-called Blue Bio-Economy, I think many Arctic communities can benefit from Iceland’s experience. As an example on the energy side, there are large areas in Russia where geothermal energy is sufficient to be utilised for the heating of housing. Harnessing this energy source would open new opportunities for the communities concerned and reduce pollution. Other green energy solutions can be found in the high north, including wind and hydropower.</p> <p style="text-align: left;">We believe there is real potential for building sustainable business opportunities in the Arctic that could truly benefit the 4 million people there and the region’s future generations. We believe there is real potential in this regard through strengthened ties between the Arctic Council and the Arctic Economic Council. And we have emphasized this during our chairmanship. Just last month, the two Councils held their first joint meeting in Reykjavík.</p> <p style="text-align: left;">We have worked very closely with Finland, the previous chair, and will continue to work very closely with Russia the incoming chair, throughout our chairmanship. We believe ensuring continuity in the work of the Council is very important. and I am very happy to say that our two countries agree on the importance of the ongoing work to strengthen the inner workings of the Council; improving engagement with the Permanent Participants and developing the cooperation with the Arctic Council Observer states and organizations.</p> <p style="text-align: left;">Ladies and gentlemen,</p> <p style="text-align: left;">If you were to sum up Iceland’s Chairmanship Program you could do so in two words: Sustainable Development. </p> <p style="text-align: left;">Iceland was for centuries one of the poorest countries in Europe. Our geographical isolation, harsh climate and frequent natural disasters made Iceland a very difficult and precarious place to live in for our ancestors.</p> <p style="text-align: left;">However, we have been blessed with natural resources, the sustainable use of which helped us develop into one of the most affluent states in the world, and that in only one century.</p> <p style="text-align: left;">What natural resources? You may ask; we neither struck gold nor do we have any oil fields in Iceland. But underneath our feet, we have geothermal energy, and surrounding our island are some of the best fishing grounds in the Atlantic.</p> <p style="text-align: left;">Just like Russia, Iceland can be a cold but most of all a very windy place. Even in summer, you feel lucky whenever the temperature is above 12 degrees! Some say that an open fridge and the Icelandic summer have two things in common: It is 8 degrees and the light is always on.</p> <p style="text-align: left;">Therefore, heating is a fundamental issue for us. In the beginning of the 20<sup>th</sup> Century, some brave Icelanders took the decision to start heating the houses of Reykjavík using geothermal district heating. I say brave because that decision was a difficult and costly one for a poor country that had just regained its sovereignty after 650 years, with only one newly established university in the country.</p> <p style="text-align: left;">Since geothermal energy was also harnessed in Iceland during the Viking times it might be tempting for me boast a little and state that harnessing our national resources was in our DNA. Unfortunately, that is not our story - We had to learn the hard way.</p> <p style="text-align: left;">After having fought the British – yes, we fought the British: Three times in the 50s and 70s and won them on every occasion – so after we had successfully fought the British and others in bitter disputes to gain full control of our Exclusive Economic Zone by the mid-70s, we continued overfishing most of our stocks for years. Thankfully, we realized just in time that something had to be done to prevent a permanent depletion of our stocks.</p> <p style="text-align: left;">Waking up to this cold reality turned out to be a blessing in disguise. It meant that drastic measures could be taken and almost all unrestricted fisheries were stopped. This lead the introduction of our present fisheries management system which is science-based and ensures responsible and sustainable fisheries.</p> <p style="text-align: left;">Turning away from coals to geothermal energy and from Olympic fisheries to responsible resource management were, in my view, two of Iceland’s most important policy decisions in the last century. These “green” decisions paved the way for a modern and prosperous society. They were not only the right ones, but they were the only ones that could bring our country to the next level.</p> <p style="text-align: left;">This could result in entire new industries in Iceland. Good example of this are some of the Icelandic companies that have accompanied me on this trip and are now doing business in Russia. They are designing new and more efficient ships, fishing gear, processing and freezing instruments, to name a few. All of this supports a more innovation and sustainable development in the fishing industry. Which brings me to the Blue Bio-Economy.</p> <p style="text-align: left;">In Iceland the development has been that we catch less fish but by cutting waste and finding innovative solutions that maximize utilization levels, we have managed to increase substantially the value of catches.</p> <p style="text-align: left;">We are still learning, but I can tell you that the Blue Bio-Economy concept has had truly positive effects in Iceland. There are even Icelandic companies that have manged to reach up to 100% utilisation of their catches, leaving no waste. That is dramatic improvement from the world vide average of 50%. Only a few years ago, this idea would have been thought of as revolutionary. Today, it is simply considered smart.</p> <p style="text-align: left;">I could name as an example innovators and researchers in a small fishing town in the north of Iceland that make a product out of shrimp shells that fights inflammations in the body. This product is sold overseas and has enabled highly educated people to return and find jobs in their old hometown. The by-product made from the shell previously thrown away is now becoming more valuable than the shrimp.</p> <p style="text-align: left;">Other entrepreneurs are producing collagen from fish, which is a food supplement that is supposed to keep you young. As you can see I take it every day! Yet another company in the remote fishing village of Ísafjörður has developed methods to extract enzymes from fish skin that is revolutionizing how burn victims are treated. Its products are sold all over the world.</p> <p style="text-align: left;">It seems that the possibilities for products made by better utilizing our catches are endless!</p> <p style="text-align: left;">I can safely say that investing in innovation, research and development and basing decisions on sound scientific research has really paid off for Iceland. True, there are no easy shortcuts and mistakes are bound to happen. But it is only through trial and error that we grow and reach our true potential.</p> <p style="text-align: left;">Ladies and gentlemen,</p> <p style="text-align: left;">It is high time for closer cooperation in the Arctic. Only by working together can we, as our Chairmanship Program states, move Together Towards a Sustainable Arctic.</p> <p style="text-align: left;">For this, we need to respond to climate change, to ocean pollution and acidification. We must increase our research and strengthen scientific initiatives. We must ensure peace and stability in our region and avoid a race for resources. But we must also ensure a prosperous future for the people of the Arctic.</p> <p style="text-align: left;">This is a tall order. For all of us. Let us not forget that the Arctic offers a golden opportunity to demonstrate how responsible states interact with each other, by respecting international laws and principles, and work to achieve common goals, in the interest of our people and our common future.</p> <p style="text-align: left;">Thank you.</p>
26. nóvember 2019Blá ör til hægriÁvarp á viðskiptaviðburði í sendiráði Íslands í Moskvu<p style="text-align: left;">Ávarp ráðherra á viðskiptaviðburði í sendiráði Íslands í Moskvu</p> <p style="text-align: left;">þriðjudaginn 26. nóvember 2019</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p><strong>Mr. Dvorkovich, Ladies and gentlemen, friends of Iceland and Russia,</strong></p> <p>I want to welcome you to our Embassy to celebrate the friendship of Iceland and Russia, reinforce and deepen our business relationship and explore new avenues for business.</p> <p>I had a meeting earlier today with my distinguished colleague (and friend) Mr. Sergei Lavrov. This is the first visit of an Icelandic Foreign Minister to Moscow for eight years. We certainly have our differences. That is exactly why trade between our two countries is more important now than ever. Because trade is so much more than the exchange of money for goods and services. Trade is people to people relations, trade is understanding each other, trade is finding common solutions, trade is working together. Trade is the catalyst for peaceful and mutually beneficial relations.</p> <p>I can therefore say, with great conviction, the promoting trade and ensuring the best possible business environment for Icelandic companies has been and will always be one of my priorities as Minister for Foreign Affairs.</p> <p>Russia and Iceland are old friends and we have been doing business for a long time. For decades, Iceland and Russia exchanged herring and capelin for fuel and Ladas. Iceland mainly exported fish to Russia - that is until five years ago. Without going into the politics, the fact is Iceland became one of the worst affected countries by Russia’s import restrictions on food imports. Our export to Russia reduced by over 90% between 2014 and 2016. Many companies were hurt by this and unfortunately the issue further soured our relations.</p> <p>But as one door closed, another one opened. We have seen new opportunities and cooperation between Icelandic and Russian companies in the food production and especially fishery sectors as a result of the massive investment that is underway in these sectors in Russia. Some have even referred to a boom in the cooperation between Icelandic companies in the sea tech sector and Russian fishery. Icelandic knowledge and know-how is being developed with Russian companies as they modernize their fishing fleet and processing facilities. </p> <p>Tourism between our countries is booming – in both directions. Last year Icelanders flocked to Russia during the football world cup and many took the opportunity to travel around the country to the different games and to explore the sights, taste culinary treats and learn about the rich history of Russia. Russian tourists are highly appreciated visitors in Iceland and their numbers are growing year by year. Direct flights during the summer season for the past two years have further encouraged this trend and the total number of Russian visitors in Iceland will set a new record this year.</p> <p>So, despite the difficulties I mentioned earlier, there are many areas where we can welcome better business relations and amble opportunities. We want more of that.</p> <p>Ladies and gentlemen,</p> <p>This business forum is the first event of the newly established Russian-Icelandic Chamber of Commerce, that I took part in launching with (my dear friend), Anton Vasiliev, the Russian Ambassador in Reykjavik just one month ago. The idea of creating a forum where Russian and Icelandic businesses can work together was pursued by the Icelandic Ambassador in Moscow, Berglind Ásgeirsdóttir, in connection to the 75th Anniversary of diplomatic relations that we celebrated last year. What better way to celebrate this important milestone than to create the Russian-Icelandic Chamber of Commerce? I am certain that the Chamber will be very useful for Russians and Icelanders doing business, for the benefit of both our countries.</p> <p>I am therefore particularly pleased to be accompanied here in Moscow by a business delegation of (15) Icelandic companies and the Chamber. Some of them have well established links with Russia but others have quite recently started or are considering Russia as a market for trade, services or cooperation. They come from different sectors and we will hear more about some of them later today. I urge you all to use the opportunity and reach out and establish contact. The companies all share a keen interest in working with the people of Russia in the field of trade. And we want to make that happen.</p> <p>To our Russian friends present here today I want to say a few words about doing business in Iceland and what we have to offer you. As I mentioned earlier it is a top priority for me as minister responsible for external trade that Icelandic companies enjoy the best business opportunities abroad. But the Icelandic government is equally focused on attracting foreign businesses and investments to Iceland and we are striving to make the business environment in Iceland company friendly and amongst the most competitive in the world.</p> <p>It is relatively easy to set up a company in Iceland and the Icelandic public is open to trying new products. Iceland is part of the European Economic Area and therefore a part of the internal market, meaning that the rules and regulations that affect free movement of goods, services, people and capital are basically the same in Iceland as in the European Union. Iceland is also a member of EFTA that has made 29 Free trade agreements with 40 countries and custom territories.</p> <p>I certainly hope conditions will improve for continuing the free trade talks between EFTA and the Eurasian Customs Union, that have now been on ice since 2014. When it has not been possible for EFTA to negotiate jointly Iceland has made bilateral free trade agreements. We were thus the first European country to conclude a free trade agreement with China.&nbsp;</p> <p>Iceland has an abundance of renewable energy sources, so all stationary energy – including house heating – is renewable. We have a talented and well-educated workforce and strive to attract talented people from abroad to work. Iceland ranks at the top of many international indicators that measure wellbeing, equality, transparency and even happiness, and is a family and child friendly, peaceful society. </p> <p>So you see there are plenty of reasons for doing business with us.</p> <p>We also want to learn from you and explore opportunities for doing business in Russia. The Icelandic business delegation present here today visited Skolkova Innovation Center yesterday. They are very impressed with what Russia is doing to support innovation and research in the different fields and by the sheer size of the Skolkova area and the variety of activity taking place there. The visit to Skolkova comes only a month after the Icelandic Innovation Center and Skolkovo signed a memorandum of understanding where the two centres expressed a willingness to work together. Amongst the areas Skolkova focuses on are IT, energy and biomedicine – all areas where Icelandic companies are prominent and sometimes at the forefront worldwide.</p> <p>I hope we will see much greater cooperation between Iceland and Russia on innovation and research in the future. I am certain there are many opportunities to work more closely together and I am particularly glad that Mr. Arkady Dvorkovich, Chairman of the Skolkovo Foundation, was able to participate with us here today, to further explore how we can work more closely together.</p> <p>Innovation does not happen in isolation and this is what innovation centres and clusters are all about. In Reykjavík, in addition to the Icelandic Innovation Center we have both an Ocean Cluster and a Renewable Energy Cluster where many start-ups and entrepreneurs have a chance to incubate and develop their ideas. As a matter of fact, some of the innovative sea tech companies in our delegation to Russia started off as brilliant idea that got developed with the help of the cluster environment. Expanding this environment across borders, through cooperation between these centres and clusters, will only expand our possibilities to reach further.</p> <p>Ladies and gentlemen,</p> <p>Despite recent setbacks, we are deepening and expanding the business relationship between Iceland and Russia in many different areas. We have a long tradition of trade and cooperation between our nations. We are hopefully seeing a new chapter in the business relations with a newly established Russian-Icelandic Chamber of Commerce, increasing cooperation on innovation and a number of companies venturing into new areas.&nbsp; I will continue to work on improving the business opportunities between our two nations and look forward to doing this with all of you. </p>
20. nóvember 2019Blá ör til hægriNorrænt varnarsamstarf í áratug<p><span>Norræna varnarsamstarfið (NORDEFCO) fagnar nú tíu ára afmæli sínu. Samstarfið er náið og tekur til aðgerða sem leiða til betra öryggis á Norðurlöndum. Núna erum við að bæta við frekari úrræðum til að vera betur í stakk búin til að takast á við hættuástand.<br /> <br /> Norðurlöndin eru tengd gegnum landfræðilega legu sína, sögu, menningu og gildi, en jafnframt berum við sameiginlega ábyrgð á að varðveita frið og stöðugleika í okkar heimshluta. Við erum öll háð aðgengi að vörum, höfnum, starfhæfum og samtengdum innviðum og flutningsleiðum sem tengjast yfir landamæri okkar. Sameiginlegir hagsmunir okkar eru að tryggja öryggi í Norður-Evrópu.<br /> <br /> Við lifum válega tíma þar sem nýjar áskoranir og ógnir valda óöryggi hjá fólki. Þess vegna þurfum við að vera reiðubúin til að verja lýðræðissamfélög okkar. Ef meiri háttar öryggisvá steðjaði að Norðurlöndunum, myndi það hafa áhrif á okkur öll. Í því skyni að uppfylla sameiginlega ábyrgð okkar á öryggismálum í heimshlutanum, þurfum við að halda áfram að efla sameiginlega viðbúnaðargetu okkar. Á fundi ráðherra sem fara með varnarmál höfum við því lýst yfir stuðningi við samráðsvettvang NORDEFCO sem ætlað er að bæta upplýsingaskipti okkar og samráð ef upp kemur hættuástand eða átök.<br /> <br /> Tilgangur norræna varnarsamstarfsins er að efla varnargetu hvers og eins aðildarríkis, kanna samlegðaráhrif og greiða leið skilvirkra, sameiginlegra lausna. Þessi sýn hefur verið leiðarljós vinnu okkar frá upphafi og er enn í dag grundvöllur norræna varnarsamstarfsins.<br /> <br /> Ólögmæt innlimun Krímskaga í Rússland árið 2014 og áframhaldandi íhlutun í austanverðri Úkraínu hefur leitt til verra ástands öryggismála í okkar heimshluta og leitt þar til hernaðaruppbyggingar. Framganga Rússa heldur áfram að auka á spennu í alþjóðasamskiptum. Netárásir, upplýsingaöflunaraðgerðir og njósnir eru aðrar öryggisógnir sem við stöndum öll frammi fyrir. Núverandi staða öryggismála hefur haft áhrif á öll ríki okkar, sem og á hið norræna varnarsamstarf okkar.<br /> <br /> Við berum öll ábyrgð á að viðhalda friði og öryggi í okkar heimshluta. Þetta gerir að verkum að samstarf okkar er enn nauðsynlegra en áður.<br /> <br /> Nú þegar við fögnum tíu ára afmæli NORDEFCO er ljóst að sameiginleg viðleitni okkar hefur leitt til margra áþreifanlegra og árangursríkra lausna. Fyrst í stað var aðaláhersla okkar á að skapa skilvirkar og hagkvæmar lausnir með gagnkvæmum ávinningi, ekki aðeins í nærumhverfi okkar, heldur einnig á alþjóðavísu. Við komum á samstarfi um samnýtingu úrræða á sviði flugstarfsemi (Nordic Tactical Air Transport (NORTAT)) og efldum samstarf okkar innan alþjóðlegra hernaðaraðgerða, til dæmis í Afganistan. Þetta samstarf hefur haldið áfram nýverið í Malí. Við þróuðum hið árangursríka Cross Border Training æfingaverkefni með því að nýta okkur loftrými Finnlands, Noregs og Svíþjóðar.<br /> <br /> Síðan árið 2014 hefur samstarf okkar orðið sífellt aðgerðamiðaðra og þá með áherslu á stöðu öryggismála í nærumhverfi okkar. Á síðastliðnum árum höfum við komið upp öruggum samskiptaleiðum milli höfuðborga okkar, við höfum auðveldað aðgengi að yfirráðasvæðum hvers annars og við höfum gripið til ráðstafana til að bæta stöðumat með því að þróa getu til að miðla loftrýmiseftirlitsupplýsingum. Við höfum einnig náð samkomulagi um ráðstafanir sem gera norrænum loftförum kleift að nota lendingarstaði í öðrum norrænum ríkjum, til dæmis þegar þörf krefur vegna veðurfarsástæðna. Annað dæmi um náið samstarf okkar er loftrýmisæfingin Arctic Challenge Exercise fyrr á þessu ári, sem metin var sem hágæðaæfing og framkvæmd í náinni samvinnu við Bandaríkin. Þessar norrænu æfingar styðja við áframhaldandi öryggis- og varnarmálasamstarf milli NATO og samstarfsríkja þess, samanber Trident Juncture 2018 æfinguna sem haldin var í fyrra.<br /> <br /> Við samþykktum framtíðarsýn fyrir NORDEFCO til 2025 árið 2018 og þau markmið sem þar koma fram eru leiðarvísir fyrir starf okkar í framtíðinni. Þar kemur fram sá sameiginlegi skilningur að alvarlegar öryggisógnir á Norðurlöndum hefðu áhrif á okkur öll, og að við þurfum að vera undirbúin og með búnað til að bregðast sameiginlega við jafnt í friði, við hættuástand og í átökum.<br /> <br /> Með því að koma á fót samráðsvettvangi vegna hættuástands hjá NORDEFCO náum við einnig að efla samstarfsgetu okkar við slíkar aðstæður. Þessi nýi vettvangur gerir okkur kleift að komast að sameiginlegu stöðumati við aðstæður á borð við hættuástand eða átök. Aðildarríki NORDEFCO geta átt í samráði við hvert annað hvenær sem svæðisbundnum stöðugleika, friðhelgi yfirráðasvæðis eða öryggi þeirra er ógnað. Þennan vettvang má einnig nýta til að skiptast á skoðunum og samræma afstöðu gagnvart alþjóðaviðburðum í uppsiglingu sem áhrif gætu haft á Norðurlöndunum eða þar sem norrænu ríkin hafa sameiginlegra hagsmuna að gæta.<br /> <br /> Við munum halda áfram að efla vægi NORDEFCO sem vettvangs fyrir umræðu um stefnumótun í öryggis- og varnarmálum og fyrir skilvirkt, áþreifanlegt samstarf. Náið samstarf Norðurlandanna í varnarmálum eykur hernaðargetu okkar og styrkir samstarfshæfni okkar. Við sameiginlegar æfingar og þjálfun eflum við innlenda getu hvers og eins og hæfni okkar í að standa sameiginlega að verkefnum. Samtímis sendum við skýr skilaboð til mögulegra árásaraðila um að við munum verjast ef þörf krefur.<br /> <br /> Guðlaugur Þór Þórðarson utanríkisráðherra<br /> Trine Bramsen, varnarmálaráðherra Danmerkur<br /> Antti Kaikkonen, varnarmálaráðherra Finnlands<br /> Frank Bakke-Jensen, varnarmálaráðherra Noregs<br /> Peter Hultqvist, varnarmálaráðherra Svíþjóðar</span></p> <p><em>Greinin birtist á vefsíðu Fréttablaðsins og í fleiri norrænum miðlum 20. nóvember 2019</em></p>
14. nóvember 2019Blá ör til hægriSam­starf í þágu út­flutnings­hags­muna<p>Farsæl utanríkisviðskipti eru forsenda þess að lífskjör Íslendinga haldist áfram góð. Sem utanríkisráðherra hef ég því lagt ríka áherslu á að tryggja íslenskum fyrirtækjum bestu mögulegu viðskiptakjör og sem greiðastan aðgang að alþjóðamörkuðum. Þar sem Ísland er lítið opið hagkerfi, skiptir aðgengi að erlendum mörkuðum okkur höfuðmáli. Góð samvinna atvinnulífs og stjórnvalda er grundvallarforsenda þess að tryggja að íslensk fyrirtæki njóti ætíð bestu mögulegu viðskiptakjara. </p> <p>Eitt af skilgreindum hlutverkum utanríkisþjónustunnar er að gæta hagsmuna íslensks viðskiptalífs og við kappkostum að vera öflugur bakhjarl í samskiptum íslenskra fyrirtækja við útlönd. Starfsfólk utanríkisþjónustunnar er til þjónustu reiðubúið, bæði hér á landi og á sendiskrifstofum Íslands erlendis. Við höfum sérstaka viðskiptafulltrúa við störf á ellefu sendiskrifstofum í Evrópu, Asíu og N-Ameríku sem hafa það hlutverk að kynna Ísland, íslensk vörumerki, vörur og þjónustu, auk þess sem þeir veita viðskiptaþjónustu og ráðgjöf til fyrirtækja. Utanríkisþjónustan aðstoðar þannig við að opna dyr fyrir íslensk fyrirtæki og við sókn á nýja markaði.</p> <p>Íslandsstofa gegnir hér sömuleiðis lykilhlutverki. Markmið mitt með þeim breytingum á Íslandsstofu, sem Alþingi samþykkti í fyrra, var að efla Íslandsstofu og samstarf atvinnulífs og stjórnvalda. Með þeim var stefnt að auknu samstarfi við markaðsstarf á erlendum mörkuðum, aukinni samþættingu og samstarfi þeirra aðila sem koma að þessum verkefnum. Þannig var búinn til vettvangur þar sem atvinnulífið og stjórnvöld geta stillt saman strengi og náð saman um stefnumótun.</p> <p>Við viljum heyra það frá fyrstu hendi hvað gengur vel og hvað má betur fara; hvort og þá hvernig stjórnvöld geta aðstoðað við að leysa flækjur í viðskiptaumhverfi íslenskra fyrirtækja. Á þeim nótum býð ég, ásamt Íslandsstofu, til samtalsfundar um allt land um samstarf og þjónustu við íslenskar útflutningsgreinar. Fyrsti fundurinn var haldinn á Egilsstöðum þar sem við áttum samtal við útflytjendur á Austurlandi, í gær áttum við góðan fund með útflytjendum á Norðurlandi í höfuðstaðnum, Akureyri, og fleiri fundir eru á teikniborðinu.</p>
11. nóvember 2019Blá ör til hægriGrein norrænu þróunarmálaráðherranna í tilefni af leiðtogafundi alþjóðaráðstefnunnar um mannfjölda og þróun (ICPD25)<p>Sameiginleg grein norrænu þróunarsamvinnuráðherranna í aðdraganda Naíróbí leiðtogafundar&nbsp;<span>alþjóðaráðstefnunnar um mannfjölda og þróun (ICPD25).</span></p> <p><em><span>Peter Eriksson, ráðherra þróunarsamvinnu, Svíþjóð</span></em></p> <p><em>Rasmus Prehn, ráðherra þróunarsamvinnu, Danmörku </em></p> <p><em>Ville Skinnari, ráðherra þróunarsamvinnu og utanríkisviðskipta, Finnlandi</em></p> <p><em>Guðlaugur Þór Þórðarson, utanríkisráðherra, Íslandi</em></p> <p><em>Dag-Inge Ulstein</em><em>, ráðherra þróunarmála, Noregi </em></p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Hagsæld og góð lífskjör á Norðurlöndunum má ekki aðeins rekja til skóga, landbúnaðar, tækni eða gnægðar auðlinda á borð við fisk og olíu. Áratugum saman hafa konur á Norðurlöndunum notið jafnra réttinda, ókeypis menntunar og aðgengis að getnaðarvörnum, ásamt öruggum og löglegum fóstureyðingum. Aðgengi að ódýrum, opinberum leikskólum fyrir börn er tryggt, ásamt veglegu fæðingarorlofi og lagaramma sem gerir foreldrum kleift að sinna starfsframa jafnhliða barnauppeldi. Sókn í réttindamálum og valdeflingu kvenna hefur leikið lykilhlutverk við þróun samfélaga okkar og gert þjóðum okkar í heild sinni kleift að taka þátt í atvinnulífinu og uppbyggingu efnahags okkar.</p> <p>Jákvæð áhrif félagslegs og efnahagslegs kynjajafnréttis eru vel þekkt.&nbsp; Þrátt fyrir þetta skortir hundruði milljóna kvenna aðgengi að nútímagetnaðarvörnum og hætta þannig á ótímabærar þunganir. Á hverjum degi eiga sér stað 33 þúsund giftingar stúlkubarna, og dag hvern deyja 830 konur við barnsburð eða af völdum þungunartengdra fylgikvilla eða óöruggra fóstureyðinga. </p> <p>Í mörgum löndum er rétturinn til umráða yfir eigin líkama enn umdeildur, jafnvel þótt alþjóðasamningur um þetta efni hafi verið samþykktur fyrir 25 árum síðan. Á alþjóðaráðstefnunni um mannfjölda og þróun árið 1994 í Kaíró, samþykktu 179 ríkisstjórnir að allir einstaklingar – hvort heldur ungmenni eða fullorðnir, giftir eða einhleypir – skyldu hafa rétt til að ákveða hvort og hvenær þeir stofnuðu fjölskyldu. Þessi samhljóða samþykkt markaði tímamót. Hún gerði það að verkum að litið var á mannréttindi og kynjajafnrétti sem lykilatriði í sjálfbærri þróun, og þjóðir heims stóðu sameinaðar á þessu sviði. </p> <p>Alþjóðasamfélagið mun innan tíðar koma saman á ný í Naíróbí til að fagna aldarfjórðungsafmæli alþjóðaráðstefnunnar um mannfjölda og þróun og til að leitast við að ljúka því starfi sem hófst í Kaíró. Leiðtogafundurinn verður í boði Kenya, Danmerkur og Mannfjöldasjóðs SÞ, en þar koma saman leiðtogar ríkja, ráðherrar, embættismenn, fulltrúar borgaralegs samfélags, einkageirans og fræðasamfélagsins, ásamt ungu fólki, til að ræða hvernig þoka megi þessari vinnu áleiðis.</p> <p>Við höfum þungar áhyggjur af því að réttinum til að taka upplýstar ákvarðanir um eigin líkama er ógnað í mörgum löndum. Mikil andstaða er víða gegn almennri kynfræðslu, réttinum til öruggra og löglegra fóstureyðinga og jöfnum réttindum til handa LGBTQ fólks. Ríkisstjórnir okkar eru staðráðnar í að vinna með vaxandi fjölda stuðningsmanna þessara réttinda í því skyni að stuðla að framgangi í þessum efnum.</p> <p>Ímyndum okkur heim þar sem deilur um þessi málefni hafa verið leiddar til lykta og þar sem við getum þess í stað beint athyglinni að þeim ávinningi sem felst í að veita öllum óskoraðan sjálfsákvörðunarrétt yfir eigin líkama.</p> <ul> <li>Við myndum koma í veg fyrir 67 milljón óæskilegar þunganir í þróunarlöndum ár hvert ef konur og ungmenni byggju við aðgengi að nútímagetnaðarvörnum. </li> <li>Við myndum binda enda á barnahjónabönd og með almennri kynfræðslu væri ungu fólki gert kleift að taka upplýstar ákvarðanir um líkama sinn og líf, ásamt því að hagnýta sér möguleika sína til fulls.</li> <li>Við myndum tryggja að stúlkur byggju við jöfn tækifæri til menntunar, til að fá tilgangsrík, launuð störf og til að taka þátt í samfélagi sínu til jafns við piltana. </li> </ul> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Það er svona veröld sem við óskum okkur. </p> <p>Valdefling kvenna og ungmenna er ekki aðeins mikilvægt markmið í sjálfu sér, heldur beinlínis forsenda þess að ná markmiðunum um sjálfbæra þróun. </p> <p>Við – Danmörk, Finnland, Ísland, Noregur og Svíþjóð – munum áfram vera traustir pólitískir og fjárhagslegir stuðningsaðilar fyrir bætt kyn- og frjósemisheilbrigði, sem og fyrir réttindum öllum til handa. </p> <p>Við getum ekki liðið að konur deyi enn af barnsförum, né heldur að börn skuli neydd í hjónaband eða að milljónir kvenna og stúlkna skuli enn í dag óttast ótímabærar þunganir.&nbsp; </p> <p>Við höldum til Naíróbí með þann skýra ásetning að ljúka þessum verkefnum.</p>
11. nóvember 2019Blá ör til hægriRæða utanríkisráðherra á alþjóðadegi millilandaráðanna<p>Ræða utanríkisráðherra á alþjóðadegi millilandaráðanna<br /> Hilton Reykjavík Nordica, 11. nóvember 2019</p> <p>Forsetafrú, Eliza Reid, kæru gestir.</p> <p>Fáar þjóðir eiga meira undir fríverslun en við Íslendingar. Gæfa okkar og gengi hefur ávallt haldist í hendur við það hvort við njótum viðskiptafrelsis eða ekki.</p> <p>Þrátt fyrir allar okkar náttúruauðlindir þá vorum við ein fátækasta þjóð Evrópu í upphafi síðustu aldar. Með fullveldinu fengum við forræði yfir okkar málum og gátum gert viðskiptasamninga við önnur ríki. Framfarirnar létu samt á sér standa vegna heimatilbúinnar haftastefnu. </p> <p>En með inngöngu í Fríverslunarsamtök Evrópu, EFTA, og síðar í Evrópska efnahagssvæðið, var taflinu snúið við og Íslendingar hófu lífskjarasókn sem á sér fáar hliðstæður.<br /> Við Íslendingar eru þannig skólabókardæmi um ágæti alþjóðlegrar fríverslunar.<br /> <br /> Góðir gestir,</p> <p>það er ekki síst í þessu ljósi sem það er mér mikill heiður að bjóða ykkur öll velkomin á þennan fyrsta alþjóðadag viðskiptalífsins. Þessi áfangi undirstrikar enn og aftur þá hreyfingu sem verið hefur á hlutunum síðustu árin, þar sem stjórnvöld og atvinnulífið taka höndum saman til styrkja undirstöður bættra lífskjara hér á landi með sókn á erlenda markaði.<br /> <br /> Aukið samstarf stjórnvalda og atvinnulífs á þessu sviði hefur verið forgangsverkefni í utanríkisþjónustunni frá því að ég tók við embætti. Áframhaldandi velsæld og vöxtur hér á landi eru undir því komin að mætum sem eitt lið til leiks á útivelli. Drifkrafturinn liggur í einkaframtakinu og hlutverk stjórnvalda er að fjarlægja hindranir og opna dyr þar sem því verður komið, að skapa þær aðstæður þar sem verslun og viðskipti milli fólks og fyrirtækja getur blómstrað.<br /> <br /> Góðir gestir,</p> <p>nú er rétt ár síðan við undirrituðum samstarfssamning alþjóðlegu viðskiptaráðanna og utanríkisráðuneytisins en eitt af markmiðum samkomulagsins er að vinna sameiginlega að alþjóðlegri ráðstefnu þar sem athygli væri vakin mikilvægi viðskiptafrelsis á alþjóðavettvangi.</p> <p>Alþjóðlegu viðskiptaráðin gegna mikilvægu hlutverki í tengslamyndun á milli Íslands og þeirra landa sem þau starfa með og vil ég nýta þetta tækifæri til að þakka stjórnum þessara fimmtán ráða, sem allar vinna sitt starf í sjálfboðavinnu, fyrir þeirra framlag til að stuðla að auknum utanríkisviðskiptum og bættum tengslum á sviði viðskipta, stjórnmála, menntunar og menningar. </p> <p>Ein megináhersla þessarar ríkisstjórnar hefur verið að tryggja atvinnulífinu þá umgjörð sem nauðsynleg er til að nýsköpun og smærri fyrirtæki geti blómstrað og orðið að alþjóðlegum stórfyrirtækjum eins og Marel og Össur. Með mörkun nýsköpunarstefnu og einföldun regluverks hafa verið stigin stór skref í þessa átt. <br /> <br /> Það hefur verið leiðarljós í starfi mínu sem utanríkisráðherra að þegar góð viðskiptahugmynd fæðist séu möguleikarnir til að framkvæma hana til staðar: Fríverslunarsamningur í gildi, loftferðasamningur í höfn og annað í þeim dúr þannig að engar slíkar hindranir standi í vegi fyrir sókn á erlenda markaði. </p> <p>Aðgengi að erlendum mörkuðum skiptir einfaldlega öllu máli fyrir íslensk fyrirtæki og efnahagslíf, sem og fyrir Ísland sem lítið og opið hagkerfi. Góðir viðskiptasamningar við erlend ríki eru lykillinn að því að tryggja íslenskum fyrirtækjum bestu mögulegu viðskiptaumgjörð. </p> <p>Fríverslunarsamningar sem Ísland hefur gert ná til 74 landa sem alls telja tæplega 2,9 milljarða manna, eða rúmlega þriðjung mannkyns. </p> <p>Ef við skoðum þessar tölur betur þá hefur Ísland, í krafti aðildar sinnar að EFTA, gert 29 samninga við 40 ríki og landsvæði. Þá hefur EFTA nýlokið samningaviðræðum við ríki Suður-Ameríku og með þeim samningi mun 300 milljóna manna markaðssvæði bætast við fríverslunarnetið. <br /> <br /> Þegar EFTA leiðin hefur ekki verið fær hefur Ísland gert tvíhliða fríverslunarsamninga. Ísland var þannig fyrst Evrópuríkja til að gera fríverslunarsamning við Kína og hefur útflutningur þangað hefur þrefaldast frá því samningurinn tók gildi. </p> <p>Evrópska efnahagssvæðið er og verður okkar kjölfestumarkaður. EES-samningurinn er auðvitað annað og meira en fríverslunarsamningur og hefur gjörbreytt íslensku viðskiptaumhverfi á þeim aldarfjórðungi sem liðinn er frá því að hann tók gildi og gert okkur samkeppnishæfari, jafnvel á mörkuðum utan EES. </p> <p>Samningurinn um evrópska efnahagssvæðið er einn mikilvægasti alþjóðasamningur okkar Íslendinga. Hann er kjölfesta íslenskra fyrirtækja á 500 milljóna manna markaði en veitir okkur um leið tækifæri til að gera fríverslunarsamninga eftir okkar höfði við þjóðir utan þess svæðið. Þetta viðskiptafrelsi stendur ríkjum innan Evrópusambandsins ekki til boða.<br /> <br /> Hörð atlaga var gerð að EES-samningnum sl. vetur og fram eftir sumri. Dulbúin sem andstaða við þriðja orkupakkann fór hreyfing sem berst gegn aðild okkar að EES mjög mikinn. Þessari atlögu var hrundið, ekki síst fyrir tilstilli margra sem hér eru, sem tóku upp hanskann fyrir alþjóðlegt viðskiptafrelsi þegar máli skipti. Markiðið með þessari atlögu var að koma okkur út úr EES. Það hefur reyndar líka verið markmið þeirra sem vilja að við göngum í ESB, því án EES-samningsins eigum við engan skárri kost gagnvart okkar kjölfestumarkaði að ganga í ESB.</p> <p>En þó svo að EES-svæðið sé okkar kjölfestumarkaður megum við ekki gleyma því að Bandaríkin eru stærsti einstaki markaður íslenskra útflytjenda. Það hefur ekki dulist neinum að það er mér mikið kappsmál að byggja upp enn nánara efnahagslegt samstarf við Bandaríkin, sérstaklega á sviði vísinda og nýsköpunar. Ég hef lagt á þetta mikla áherslu fundum mínum með bandarískum ráðamönnum, allt frá öldungadeildarþingmönnum og ríkisstjórum, til utanríkisráðherra og varaforseta Bandaríkjanna.</p> <p>Þá er ég nýkominn heim frá San Francisco þar sem ég leiddi viðskiptasendinefnd amerísk-íslenska viðskiptaráðsins. Það var heillandi að verða vitni að sköpunarkraftinum sem á sér stað í Kísildalnum og sjá hvernig alþjóðleg stórfyrirtæki á borð við Google og Facebook hafa sprottið upp úr góðri hugmynd eða hugviti. <br /> <br /> Góðir gestir</p> <p>Fríverslun er ekki bara skipti á vörum og þjónustu fyrir peninga. Viðskiptafrelsi færir okkur svo miklu meira; það stuðlar að auknum samskiptum milli ólíkra þjóða, myndar brú milli menningarheima og eykur skilning þeirra á milli. Fríverslun stuðlar að friði, eins og sagan sýnir okkur. Með auknum samskiptum erum við betur í stakk búin að takast á við sameiginleg vandamál. Framtíðarsýn okkar verður að byggjast á þessari reynslu.</p> <p>Við þekkjum nú þegar margar af þeim áskorunum sem við munum standa frammi fyrir árið 2030. Stjórnvöld hafa skuldbundið sig til að innleiða heimsmarkmið Sameinuðu þjóðanna og sett sér metnaðarfull markmið á sviði loftslagsmála. Til þess að uppfylla þessi markmið verða allir geirar samfélagsins að vinna saman; stjórnvöld, fyrirtæki, frjáls félagasamtök og einstaklingar. Ég fagna því að atvinnulífið er í auknum mæli að horfa til þess hvernig það geti lagt sitt af mörkum til að ná markmiðunum. </p> <p>Frumkvöðlar og atvinnulífið eru nú þegar að koma fram ýmsar góðar tæknilausnir og hugvit sem munu nýtast til að hjálpa okkur að draga úr losun og binda kolefni. Ég vona svo sannarlega að saman muni okkur takast að snúa þróuninni við og koma í veg fyrir að sú dimma framtíðarsýn sem dregin er upp muni líta dagsins ljós. <br /> <br /> Við getum hins vegar ekki treyst eingöngu á að vísindafólk muni finna leið til að snúa þróuninni við, heldur þurfum við öll að leggja okkar af mörkum og standa saman. Við þurfum að nýta þá krafta sem búa í einkaframtakinu og alþjóðlegri samvinnu til að leysa þetta vandamál. Það er enginn annar möguleiki í stöðunni. <br /> <br /> Kæru gestir,</p> <p>í síðasta mánuði kynnti Íslandsstofa stefnumótun stjórnvalda og atvinnulífs fyrir íslenskan útflutning. Alls komu um 400 manns að mótun stefnunnar, en haldnar voru vinnustofur um allt land og með fulltrúum helstu útflutningsgeira landsins. </p> <p>Það er ánægjulegt hversu sterkur samhljómur var um það meðal íslenskra fyrirtækja að sjálfbærni væri sá samnefnari sem rétt væri að nota fyrir áherslur Íslands í markaðsstarfi næstu ár. Við viljum að Ísland sé þekkt sem leiðandi land í sjálfbærni.</p> <p>Við getum svo sannarlega verið stolt af framlagi Íslands þessum efnum. Ísland er land endurnýjanlegrar orku og hefur verið það lengi. Þekkingu okkar Íslendinga, einkum á notkun jarðvarma, erum við að flytja út til annarra ríkja og þannig leggja okkar að mörkum svo um munar. Þá hafa íslensk fyrirtæki komið fram með lausnir sem stuðla að því að binda kolefni í jörðu og þannig draga úr magni koltvísýrings í andrúmsloftinu.<br /> <br /> Sjávarútvegur er annar geiri þar sem Ísland hefur lagt sín lóð á vogarskálarnar svo um munar við að stuðla að aukinni sjálfbærni. Íslensk fyrirtæki eru að þróa lausnir sem miða að því að stuðla að verndun umhverfisins, betri nýtingar auðlindarinnar og draga úr losun gróðurhúsalofttegunda. <br /> <br /> Íslensk fyrirtæki hafa t.d. stóraukið virði sjávarfangs með því að nýta þá hluta fisksins sem við vorum vön að henda, þ.e. roð, bein og hausa, m.a. til að búa til húðvörur sem nýtast til að lækna húðvandamál, sem og fæðubótarefni og annað. Þá hefur íslenskt hugvit einnig fært okkur tækni sem sker fisk eða annan mat með slíkri nákvæmni að nánast ekkert matarkyns fari til spillis. Þetta eru einungis nokkur dæmi en þau eru mun fleiri og á ólíkum sviðum. <br /> <br /> Íslenskt hugvit hefur því þegar stuðlað að aukinni sjálfbærni en með því fara saman gríðarlegur virðisauki og skýr krafa hins ört stækkandi hóps meðvitaðra neytenda. Það er ekki ólíklegt að fyrirtæki sem ekki laga sig að auknum kröfum um sjálfbærni muni heltast úr lestinni þar sem neytendur muni ákveða að færa sín viðskipti til annarra fyrirtækja.<br /> Fyrirtæki þurfa þannig að vera í stanslausri þróun og tilbúin að mæta þörfum framtíðarinnar. </p> <p>Á hverjum degi koma fram tækninýjungar sem eiga eftir að gjörbylta lífi okkar. Gervigreind, aukin sjálfvirkni og vélstýrð tæki munu breyta daglegu lífi okkar til muna næstu árin. </p> <p>Það eru gríðarlega spennandi tímar fram undan og dagskráin hér í dag endurspeglar það. Ég vona að þetta málþing verði til að auka enn umræðu og áhuga á því hvernig við getum saman skapað íslensku viðskiptalífi og nýsköpunarfyrirtækjum frjóan jarðveg á Íslandi samhliða því sem við greiðum þeim leið á nýja markaði.</p> <p>Takk fyrir.</p> <br /> <div id="gtx-trans" style="position: absolute; left: 354px; top: -9px;"> <div class="gtx-trans-icon">&nbsp;</div> </div>
01. nóvember 2019Blá ör til hægriÁvarp á stofnfundi Rússnesk-íslenska viðskiptaráðsinsStofnfundur Rússnesk-íslenska viðskiptaráðsins<br /> Rússneska sendiráðinu <br /> 1. nóvember 2019<br /> <br /> Ambassador, dear friends of Iceland and Russia,<br /> <br /> It is truly a good occasion that brings us together here at the Russian Embassy today: the formal creation of the Russian-Icelandic Chamber of Commerce. I want to thank you Anton for your hospitality and thank all of you who have worked on creating the chamber. <br /> <br /> The idea of creating a forum where Russian and Icelandic businesses can work together was pursued by the Icelandic Ambassador in Moscow, Berglind Ásgeirsdóttir, in connection to the 75th Anniversary of diplomatic relations that we celebrated last year. It is indeed cause for a celebration that this idea has now come to fruition. I am certain that the Chamber will be very useful for Russians and Icelanders doing business, for the benefit of both our countries, to have the chamber where they can work together, share ideas and cooperate.<br /> <br /> Russia and Iceland are old friends and we have been doing business for decades. As you know we have been faced with grave challenges in the bilateral trade in the last few years that have significantly reduced the trade between us. But we have also seen new opportunities arise and cooperation starting in other areas. <br /> <br /> I will be travelling to Moscow later this month for an official visit and I look forward to meeting my good counterpart, Mr. Lavrov. This will be the first trip of an Icelandic foreign minister to Moscow for 8 years. <br /> <br /> As it is my hope is that this trip will help us to find ways to do more business together it gives me great pleasure to invite you, the members of the newly created Russian-Icelandic Chamber of Commerce, to join me in Moscow as I will bring a business delegation with me. The business delegation will visit the Skolkova Innovation Center, which is a vast business area in Moscow where close to 2.000 Russian high tech companies are working on innovation in areas such as IT, energy and biomedicine. <br /> <br /> Our Ambassador in Russia, Berglind Ásgeirsdóttir, will host a special event at the Icelandic Residence in Moscow, where we will present opportunities that Icelandic businesses bring. This will be the first event of the newly established chamber, so I think it is safe to say that the Russian-Icelandic Chamber of Commerce is off to a very good start. <br /> <br /> The Russian Icelandic Chamber of Commerce and Promote Iceland will send an email later today and I am told it is necessary to register quickly, so please keep that in mind. <br /> <br /> I hope to see you all in Moscow and look forward to seeing business relations between Iceland and Russia deepen and grow in the future and the chamber playing an important role in bringing us closer.<br /> <br /> Thank you.<br />
31. október 2019Blá ör til hægriÁvarp utanríkisráðherra í tengslum við ráðstefnuna Jafnrétti til útflutnings<p>Gender Equality: A key for economic and social development in Europe and beyond<br /> Reykjavik, 31 Oct and 1 Nov 2019</p> <p>Ávarp utanríkisráðherra Guðlaugs Þórs Þórðarsonar<br /> <br /> <br /> Good afternoon ladies and gentlemen, and warm welcome to the visitors from the partner countries of the EEA Grants.<br /> <br /> This year we celebrate the 25th anniversary of the EEA Agreement. It is fitting on this occasion, to hold this important conference on gender equality with our partner countries of the EEA Grants.<br /> <br /> As is stated in the title of the conference: Gender Equality is a key for economic and social development in Europe. Yet the fact is, that of the 17 Sustainable Development Goals, the world community has progressed what least on goal number 5 on Gender Equality.<br /> <br /> This the European cooperation must change, and the EEA Grants can help us to do so, because its main goal is to contribute to a more equal Europe. <br /> <br /> Iceland has from the outset of the EEA Grants focused its efforts on areas where we have capacity and expertise to offer to other European partners. Gender equality is a case in point.<br /> <br /> Iceland enjoys the good fortune of being in the top rank of all international indexes for gender equality. For example, Iceland has for the past 10 years topped the Global Gender Gap index of the World Economic Forum.<br /> <br /> Our experience has taught us, that more gender equality and more participation of women in all aspects of the economy, society and politics, makes a better society and more prosperous economy. Everyone benefits from gender equality, both men and women. <br /> <br /> But how did we get here, and what lessons can we learn from the Icelandic experience? <br /> <br /> You have already heard that we have a good legal and institutional framework. The laws in Iceland ensure gender equality, and the rights of women to equal participation. We also have good pre-school and education system and health care system that help to create equal level-playing field for women.<br /> <br /> But we are of course not perfect, and we have still some way to go. But rest assured, we will continue to strive for more gender equality. Both because we all want to enjoy the benefits of gender equality. <br /> <br /> And finally an important key to our success: Women have been the force of change in Iceland. They have come a long way in changing our attitudes and our way of life to the better. However, important challenges remain in that regard. We, men, need to become real agents of change if we want to reach our goal of a gender equal society. <br /> <br /> In closing I thank the organizers, the FMO and our partners in Portugal and Norway for making this event possible. <br /> <br /> With these words I wish you all a pleasant evening and a productive conference.<br /> <br /> <br /> <br /> </p> <br />
31. október 2019Blá ör til hægriUppbygging í aldarfjórðung<p>Um þessar mundir eru 25 ár liðin frá gildistöku samningsins um Evrópska efnahagssvæðið, mikilvægasta milliríkjasamnings sem Ísland hefur gert. Auk þess að vera stærsti viðskiptasamningur Íslands býður hann upp á margvísleg tæki til samstarfs fyrir Íslendinga við aðra Evrópubúa á sviðum rannsókna og vísinda, lista og menningar, menntunar, nýsköpunar, mannréttinda og jafnréttismála. Uppbyggingarsjóður EES er eitt slíkt tæki.<br /> <br /> Með þátttöku í Uppbyggingarsjóði EES leggur Ísland fram sinn skerf til samstarfs Evrópuríkja um umbætur og uppbyggingu í þeim ríkjum Evrópu sem standa lakar í efnahagslegu tilliti. Þetta eru Eystrasaltsríkin og ríkin í Mið- og Suður-Evrópu, nánar tiltekið Eistland, Lettland, Litháen, Búlgaría, Grikkland, Króatía, Kýpur, Malta, Portúgal, Pólland, Rúmenía, Slóvakía, Slóvenía, Tékkland og Ungverjaland. Uppbyggingarsjóðurinn er fjármagnaður af Íslandi, Liechtenstein og Noregi og er okkar framlag til að draga úr félagslegum og efnahagslegum ójöfnuði innan Evrópska efnahagssvæðisins og þar með stuðla að stöðugleika og framförum í Evrópu.<br /> <br /> Áherslur Íslands hafa frá upphafi verið á að stuðla að samstarfsverkefnum á sviði rannsókna og vísinda, menntunar og menningar, umhverfis- og orkumála, samfélagslegra umbóta og málefna flóttamanna. Höfum við í þeim efnum notið dyggrar aðstoðar RANNÍS, Orkustofnunar og Mannréttindaskrifstofu Íslands. Samvinna á sviði jarðvarma hefur fram til þessa verið mikið áherslumál okkar og mun svo verða áfram. Um leið hef ég lagt ríka áherslu á að efla samstarf á sviðið jafnréttismála og á sviðum nýsköpunar og fyrirtækjaþróunar.<br /> <br /> Uppbyggingarsjóðurinn býður upp á margvísleg tækifæri fyrir Íslendinga til samstarfs við aðila í þessum fimmtán ríkjum. Auk styrkja sem renna til verkefnanna sjálfra eru veittir styrkir til tengslamyndunar og verkefnaþróunar. Þegar hafa fleiri hundruð samstarfsverkefni með þátttöku íslenskra aðila notið styrkja úr sjóðnum. Hvað nýsköpun og fyrirtækjaþróun varðar hef ég lagt áherslu á aðkomu Íslandsstofu að því að aðstoða íslensk fyrirtæki við að taka þátt í verkefnum á vegum sjóðsins.<br /> <br /> Til marks um þann ávinning sem bæði Ísland og viðtökuríkin hafa af aðildinni í sjóðnum er ráðstefna um jafnréttismál sem hefst í Reykjavík í dag. Hún er samvinnuverkefni Íslands, Noregs og Portúgals með stuðningi Uppbyggingarsjóðs EES og sækja hana fulltrúar frá öllum viðtökuríkjunum til þess að læra af reynslu Íslendinga og Norðmanna á sviði jafnréttismála. Frumkvæði okkar og þau tæki og aðferðir sem við höfum beitt með góðum árangri í jafnréttisbaráttunni verða kynnt fyrir þátttakendum, og áhugasömum boðið upp á að skapa samstarfsverkefni sem notið geta styrkja úr sjóðnum. Það má því segja að með þessari ráðstefnu sé íslensk jafnréttisstefna orðin sannkölluð útflutningsvara.</p> <p><em>Greinin birtist fyrst í Fréttablaðinu.</em></p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <br />
30. október 2019Blá ör til hægriRæða utanríkisráðherra á Norðurlandaráðsþingi í StokkhólmiHerra forseti, kæru þingmenn í Norðurlandaráði. <br /> <br /> Í byrjun síðasta mánaðar hlaust mér sá heiður að bjóða kollegum mínum til Borgarness, á æskuslóðir mínar. Þessi fæðingarsveit mín komst í heimsfréttirnar fyrir stuttu þegar þess var minnst að jökullinn Ok lauk æviskeiði sínu. Það er áminning til okkar um hversu viðkvæmt vistkerfið okkar er. Við eigum að nýta styrkinn í norrænu samstarfi, þekkingu okkar, þrautseigju og hugkvæmni í þágu nýrra lausna í loftslagsmálum eins og lagt er upp með í nýrri framtíðarsýn Norrænu ráðherranefndarinnar. <br /> <br /> Í Borgarnesi gerði ég kollegum mínum grein fyrir áherslum formennsku okkar í Norðurskautsráðinu. Með sjálfbærni að leiðarljósi viljum við nýta efnahagsleg tækifæri til hagsbóta fyrir íbúa norðurslóða. En við viljum samvinnu sem byggist á alþjóðalegum leikreglum. Til að svo megi verða þurfa norðurslóðir að vera áfram lágspennusvæði. <br /> <br /> Við ræddum ennfremur þá miklu athygli sem norðurslóðamál njóta nú, ekki síst frá stærri ríkjum. Bandaríkin sýna svæðinu mun meiri áhuga. Það er ánægjuefni enda viljum að Bandaríkin séu sem virkust á alþjóðavettvangi. Það er mikilvægt að hafa í huga að núverandi aðstæður á alþjóðavettvangi kalla á meiri, en ekki minni, samvinnu við okkar bandamenn. Við megum ekki gleyma að við deilum sömu grundvallargildum og það er grundvallaratriði þegar um er að ræða fjárfestingar og þjóðaröryggi. <br /> <br /> Þegar við hittumst í Berlín fyrir tveimur vikum fór mestur tíminn í að ræða ástandið í norðausturhluta Sýrlands en Norðurlöndin hafa öll fordæmt aðgerðir Tyrkja. <br /> <br /> Annars vorum við að halda uppá 20 ára afmæli sendiráðsbygginganna í Berlín - flaggskipi utanríkisþjónusta okkar. Samstarfsformið í Berlín er dæmi um norrænt samstarf eins og það gerist best. <br /> <br /> En það er ekki bara í Berlín sem samstaða og rödd Norðurlandanna vekur athygli. Norðurlöndin voru í fararbroddi þeirra ríkja sem settu umhverfismál og jafnréttimál á oddinn, og barátta okkar í málefnum LGBTI fólks hefur vakið verðskuldaða athygli. Þessi barátta okkar, ásamt fjölda annarra sem betur fer, hefur fært þessi mál frá jaðri inn á miðju í mörgum samfélögum. Við höfum í gegnum áratugina staðið dyggan vörð um marghliða alþjóðasamvinnu, frið og mannréttindi, lýðræðislegar leikreglur og grundvöll réttarríkisins. Slík barátta er ekki síst mikilvæg nú þegar réttarríkið á undir högg að sækja og falsfréttum er dreift eins og enginn sé morgundagurinn. <br /> <br /> Þetta gerum við ekki bara hér á Norðurlandaráðsþingi heldur einnig á vettvangi SÞ þar sem Svíþjóð sat þar til nýverið við borðið í öryggisráðinu, og Noregur sest þar vonandi senn; í Mannréttindaráðinu þar sem Ísland og Danmörk hafa verið; og í Evrópusamvinnunni þar sem Finnland er nú í forsæti ráðherraráðs ESB eftir vel heppnaða formennsku í Evrópuráðinu. Grænland og Færeyjar skipta miklu máli á norðurslóðum og í N-Atlantshafssamstarfinu, og Álandseyjar eru fyrirmynd í sjálfbærni. <br /> <br /> Dömur mínar og herrar, <br /> <br /> Á Berlínarfundinum var mikill samhljómur meðal okkar kollegana hvernig við gætum og ættum að deila okkar reynslu af samvinnu með öðrum þjóðum. Þar voru ríkin á Balkanskaga nefnd til sögunnar sérstaklega. Við þurfum líka að vinna þétt og náið með vinum okkar og næstu nágrönnum á Bretlandseyjum en þeir hafa sýnt mikinn áhuga á samvinnu við Norðurlöndin. <br /> <br /> Þó að sum okkar séu í NATO og önnur ekki, sum okkar í ESB en önnur ekki þá er samvinna okkar erum við gott dæmi um ríki sem geta unnið þétt saman þrátt fyrir að hafa kosið mismunandi leiðir til þess að ná okkar utanríkispólitísku markmiðum. <br /> <br /> Löngu fyrir tíma innri markaðarins var sameiginlegum norrænum vinnumarkaði komið á fót. Norræna vegabréfasambandið var fyrirmynd Schengen-samstarfsins. Samstarf okkar á sviði mennta- og vísindamála var öðrum Evrópuríkjum innblástur, ég nefni Nordplus og Nordjobb sem dæmi. <br /> <br /> Öll þessi dæmi sem ég nefndi að ofan eiga eitt sameiginlegt. Þau hafa dregið úr hindrunum og greitt fyrir viðskiptum og samskiptum og því að íbúar Norðurlandanna hafi getað búið og unnið saman í sátt og samlyndi um áratuga skeið.<br /> <br /> Dömur mínar og herrar.<br /> <br /> Samstarf Evrópuríkja er margþætt og flókið en því opnari og sveigjanlegri sem við erum fyrir mismunandi formi á því – þeim mun sterkari verða Norðurlöndin og því sterkari verður Evrópa í heild sinni.<br /> <br /> Stoltenberg-skýrslan frá 2009 reyndist sannarlega innspýting í norrænt samstarf og leiddi til aukins samstarfs á sviði utanríkis- og öryggismála. Margt hefur breyst síðan. Nægir þar að nefna loftslagsbreytingar, nýjar hættur eins og netógnir, og endurteknar tilraunir til að grafa undan marghliða alþjóðasamvinnu, alþjóðastofnum og alþjóðalögum. <br /> <br /> Þess vegna höfum við ákveðið að fela Birni Bjarnasyni, fyrrverandi ráðherra að skrifa nýja skýrslu. Gert er ráð fyrir að nýjar tillögur liggi fyrir um mitt næsta ár.<br /> <br /> Ég hlakka til þeirra og með þessum orðum þakka ég fyrir mig og hlakka til umræðunnar hér á eftir.
24. október 2019Blá ör til hægriRæða á hitaveituráðstefnunni Sustainable District Energy Conference<p><span>Excellencies,<br /> Ladies and gentlemen<br /> <br /> First, allow me to congratulate you on this important conference. I am really delighted to see that so many experts and managers from so many countries are taking part in this conference about geothermal district heating systems. And thank you for giving me the opportunity to give some opening remarks.</span></p> <p><span>I think that one can say that Reykjavík is the birthplace of modern geothermal district heating and Iceland has for more than a century worked on and invested in its geothermal district heating systems. Geothermal district heating is so much a part of everyday life today in Iceland that most Icelanders, especially the “young” generation (under 50 years) do not remember or realize the effort that was put into its development. Geothermal district heating has become so much an integrated part of our society that we almost do not notice it.&nbsp;<br /> For the rest of the world where clean district energy is needed this is a different story. Heating costs in many countries are high, the CO2 emissions from generating the needed thermal energy are staggering. We don’t have to go far to see this reality, about half (50 percent) of the energy used in the European Union is for heating and cooling - by far the largest portion is for heating. And the EU countries get about 70% of their thermal energy from fossil fuels and 20% from biomass. This has remained stable for a decade. But the potential for low temperature geothermal heating is there and should be utilized. Good examples exist in countries such as France, Italy, Germany, Slovakia, Netherlands and Portugal. And there are great potentials in Poland, Romania, Bulgaria, Croatia and Greece. Also, in Asia, Iceland has taken an active part in developing geothermal heating and cooling systems in China where today you find the world’s largest geothermal district heating systems.&nbsp;<br /> <br /> ***<br /> In 2014, Iceland received a formal recognition from Cornell University for its leadership in green energy and sustainability. This award was given to Iceland for its accomplishment in the area of technology development and utilization of geothermal and hydro energy resources in an integrated fashion to create a sustainable future for the country. The geothermal district heating systems played a huge part in this formal recognition.<br /> <br /> Well over 80% of the primary energy in Iceland now derives from renewable resources and here, the district heating systems play the biggest part. Today, Iceland is estimated to have saved about 22 billion dollars because of using low temperature geothermal energy for space heating instead of importing coal and oil. And of course, this has saved the atmosphere for millions of tons of CO2.<br /> <br /> Sustainability is more than just a concept in Icelandic society. Sustainability has shaped the country and laid the groundwork for our prosperity. Our energy infrastructure is unlike any other in the world and Iceland is a global leader with over 95 percent of its electricity and heating provided by renewable geothermal and hydro energy.&nbsp;<br /> Iceland’s renewable energy represents more than 85 percent of Iceland’s primary energy supply, in contrast to the global average energy supply where about 80 percent is derived from fossil fuels.<br /> In our common effort to combat climate change, we need to utilize all forms of renewable and clean energy. Geothermal energy is part of the solution. Low temperature geothermal energy district heating and cooling systems are important in that context. We know that this form of energy can be widely found, and Iceland is open to sharing its success in sustainable energy development and utilization with other countries.<br /> <br /> ***<br /> Ladies and gentlemen,<br /> It is my hope that this event may become a platform for the Geothermal District Heating Sector to come together and share knowledge, experience, good and bad, and to form new partnerships to speed up the development of geothermal district heating systems. Europe will not reach its goals, the world will not reach its goals, for emission reduction without large scale investment in clean district energy systems where low temperature geothermal resources are utilized. Here today, in this room, are the people that can assist with making that happen.<br /> I therefore take this opportunity to express my satisfaction with that a whole session of this conference is devoted to the EEA Grants and the opportunities they offer for funding geothermal district heating projects.&nbsp; As you know, the EEA Grants are funded by Iceland, Norway and Liechtenstein. The Grants have two goals:&nbsp; to contribute to a more equal Europe, both socially and economically, and to strengthen the relations between Iceland, Liechtenstein and Norway, and the 15 beneficiary countries in Europe. Iceland has from the outset placed priority on using the EEA Grants to support the utilization of geothermal energy, because environmentally sound and reliable central heating is fundamental for social progress and economic well-being.<br /> <br /> I hope you have a productive conference, there is much to be done and little time to achieve it.&nbsp;<br /> Thank you!&nbsp;<br /> </span></p> <div>&nbsp;</div>
23. október 2019Blá ör til hægriÁvarp utanríkisráðherra á fundi Íslandsstofu um stefnumótun stjórnvalda og atvinnulífs fyrir íslenskan útflutning<p><span>Ávarp utanríkisráðherra: </span></p> <p><span>Kynningarfundur um stefnumótun stjórnvalda og atvinnulífs fyrir íslenskan útflutning, <br /> 23. október 2019<br /> Hilton Reykjavík Nordica<br /> <br /> Farsæl utanríkisviðskipti eru forsenda hagvaxtar og góðra lífskjara á Íslandi. Ég hef því sem utanríkisráðherra lagt höfuðáherslu á að tryggja ætíð bestu mögulegu viðskiptakjör og aðgang að alþjóðamörkuðum fyrir íslensk fyrirtæki. Aðgengi að erlendum mörkuðum skiptir einfaldlega höfuðmáli fyrir Ísland, sem lítið opið hagkerfi. Íslensk fyrirtæki þurfa þannig ekki að takmarka möguleika sína við heimamarkaðinn, heldur geta lagt heiminn að fótum sér og það hafa fjölmörg þeirra gert með góðum árangri.&nbsp;<br /> <br /> Góðir viðskiptasamningar eru lykillinn að því að tryggja íslenskum fyrirtækjum sem best kjör. Ísland stendur þar vel að vígi og hef ég lagt mikla áherslu á að tryggja að Íslandi bjóðist alltaf bestu mögulegu kjör. Þar skiptir auðvitað mestu EES-samningurinn sem um þessar mundir á 25 ára afmæli. Mörg ykkar kannast orðið við þau Klöru, Hannes, Guðnýju og Brynjar, sem fara á kostum í stuttum myndböndum sem við í utanríkisráðuneytinu létum gera af því tilefni. Klara til dæmis ELSKAR fisk og vegna EES-samningsins getur hún flutt hann brakandi ferskan út á diskinn hjá Frökkum. Samingurinn veitir Íslandi nefnilega aðgang að 500 milljóna markaðssvæði sem nær yfir mest alla Evrópu og gerir íslenskum fyrirtækjum kleift að geta stundað viðskipti nánast hindranalaust á grundvelli þátttöku Íslands í innri markaði ESB. Hann felur að í sér að við erum ekki hluti af tollabandalagi ESB og við getum stundað frjáls viðskipti og gert fríverslunarsamninga við þá aðila sem okkur sýnist. Á Íslandi bera enda tæp 90% tollskrárnúmera engan toll, en til samanburðar þá eru það 26% í ESB.</span></p> <p><span>Þótt við höfum kannski ekki beinlínis búið í torfkofum og borðað ýmist soðna ýsu eða sviðakjamma í öll mál fyrir gildistöku EES-samningsins hættir okkur stundum til að gleyma hvernig EES-samningurinn gjörbreytti samkeppnisstöðu íslenskra fyrirtækja. Það er engin spurning að hann er meginundirstaða þeirrar framþróunar sem orðið hefur hér á á landi síðustu áratugi. Þess vegna verðum við að nýta tækifærin sem í samningnum felast, jafnframt því að standa vörð um íslenska hagsmuni. Nú þegar Bretar eru á leið úr Evrópusambandinu er stóra verkefnið að sjálfsögðu að tryggja að viðskiptaumhverfið milli Íslands og Bretlands haldist óraskað. Ég tel að við getum jafnvel náð betri kjörum á einstaka sviðum og mun leggja mig fram við það.</span></p> <p><span>Aðildin að EFTA er önnur lykilstoð við að tryggja bestu möguleg kjör fyrir íslenskt viðskiptalíf. Í krafti aðildar okkar að EFTA hefur Ísland gert 29 fríverslunarsamninga við fjörutíu ríki og landsvæði utan EES, þar sem 1,2 milljarðar búa. Þannig höfum við tryggt tollfrjálsan aðgang eða veruleg tollfríðindi fyrir okkar helstu útflutningsvörur inn á þessa markaði víða um heim. Þá hefur EFTA nýlokið samningi við Mercosur-ríkin í S-Ameríku og mun þá um 300 milljóna markaður bætast við fríverslunarnetið. Rjúkandi Ríó-kaffið á því eftir að ilma enn betur og fyrirsagnir á borð við „Skreið til Brasilíu“ gætu farið að birtast í íslenskum fjölmiðlum. EFTA vinnur þannig jafnt og þétt að því að útvíkka fríverslunarnetið sem og að bæta og uppfæra gildandi samninga.&nbsp;</span></p> <p><span>Loks hefur Ísland gert fríverslunarsamninga beint við önnur ríki, þegar EFTA leiðin hefur ekki verið möguleg. Var Ísland þannig fyrst evrópskra ríkja til að gera fríverslunarsamning við Kína. Frá því að sá samningur tók gildi hafa viðskiptin milli landanna aukist um 75 prósent. Gífurleg tækifæri felast í að auka viðskiptin inn á þessa fjarlægu markaði og eru spennandi möguleikar í Kína fyrir smá og meðal stór fyrirtæki í gegnum rafræn viðskipti.&nbsp;<br /> Þetta er það sem við erum að gera í utanríkisráðuneytinu og sendiráðum Íslands, dag hvern, árið um kring. Það er svo fyrirtækjanna að nýta tækifærin sem stjórnvöld skapa og þar hefur ekki verið komið að tómum kofunum. Það er gaman að fylgjast með því hvernig hugvit og seigla íslenskra fyrirtækja um allt land breytist í stór alþjóðleg fyrirtæki sem herja á erlenda markaði og hvernig íslenskur útflutningur verður sífellt fjölbreyttari og eflir orðstír Íslands á erlendri grundu. Eggin eru orðin mörg og liggja svo sannarlega ekki öll í sömu körfu!&nbsp;<br /> Góð samvinna atvinnulífs og stjórnvalda er forsenda þess að tryggja að íslensk fyrirtæki njóti ætíð bestu mögulegu viðskiptakjara þannig að hugarflugið eitt takmarki hvert þau geta stefnt. Við viljum heyra hvar skórinn kreppir eða hvort þið rekið ykkur á hindranir eða flækjustig í viðskiptaumsvifum ykkar sem stjórnvöld gætu hjálpað til við að leysa. Eitt af skilgreindum hlutverkum utanríkisþjónustunnar er að gæta hagsmuna íslensks viðskiptalífs, með því að tryggja íslenskum fyrirtækjum bestu viðskiptakjör og aðstoða fyrirtæki við markaðssókn á alþjóðamörkuðum, stuðla að jákvæðu orðspori og alþjóðlegri samkeppnishæfni íslenskra fyrirtækja.&nbsp;</span></p> <p><span>Við erum bakhjarl ykkar í samskiptum ykkar við útlönd. Starfsfólk utanríkisþjónustunnar er boðið og búið að aðstoða og veita upplýsingar, bæði hér heima og á sendiskrifstofum Íslands erlendis. Sérstakir viðskiptafulltrúar eru við störf á ellefu sendiskrifstofum í Evrópu, Asíu og N-Ameríku, sem hafa það hlutverkað kynna Ísland, íslensk vörumerki og vörur og þjónustu, ásamt því að veita viðskiptaþjónustu og ráðgjöf til fyrirtækja. Viðskiptafulltrúarnir búa yfir djúpri þekkingu á sínum mörkuðum, reynslu og tengslaneti. Utanríkisþjónustan getur þannig aðstoðað við að opna dyr fyrir fyrirtækin og sókn á nýja markaði, sem og komið til aðstoðar þegar greiða þarf úr vandamálum gagnvart stjórnvöldum og opinberum stofnunum. Meðal annars verður sett á laggirnar þjónustuborð Íslandsstofu um þróunarsamvinnu og atvinnulíf og það verður fjallað nánar um það síðar á þessu ári.&nbsp;</span></p> <p><span>Og þá erum við komin að Íslandsstofu en hún gegnir sömuleiðis lykilhlutverki. Markmið mitt með breytingum á Íslandsstofu, sem Alþingi samþykkti í fyrra, var einmitt að efla Íslandsstofu og samstarf atvinnulífs og stjórnvalda við markaðsstarf á erlendum mörkuðum, auka samþættingu og samstarf allra þeirra aðila sem koma að þessum verkefnum. Að búa til vettvang þar sem atvinnulífið og stjórnvöld geta stillt saman strengi og náð saman um langtímastefnumótun. Ein af helstu nýjungunum sem komu til með breyttum lögum var að setja á fót Útflutnings- og markaðsráð sem nú gegnir lykilhlutverki við að móta langtímastefnu um markaðssókn á erlenda markaði og fylgja henni eftir. Í ráðinu sitja 36 fulltrúar atvinnulífs og stjórnvalda úr hinum ólíku geirum viðskipta- og atvinnulífs. Við munum heyra nánar í dag bæði af helstu breytingum á starfsemi og þjónustu Íslandsstofu sem og fá kynningu á niðurstöðum stefnumótunar sem Útflutnings- og markaðsráð vann í nánu samráði við útflutningsfyrirtæki á ólíkum sviðum. Það er verulega ánægjulegt að sjá hversu mikill samhljómur er um allt land á því hverjar áherslur Íslands ættu að vera í markaðs- og kynningarstarfi á erlendri grundu og hvernig áherslusviðin tengjast og styrkja hvert annað.&nbsp;</span></p> <p><span>Á þessum nótum munum við Pétur Óskarsson, framkvæmdastjóri Íslandsstofu, bjóða til samtalsfundar um allt land um samstarf og þjónustu við íslenskar útflutningsgreinar. Fyrsti fundurinn verður á Egilsstöðum á morgun þar sem við munum eiga samtal við útflytjendur á Austurlandi.&nbsp;</span></p> <p><span>Síðast en ekki síst er mér sérstök ánægja og heiður að fá að tilkynna um nýjasta liðsmanninn í því úrvalsliði sem vinnur í þágu íslenskra hagsmuna á erlendum vettvangi. Íslandsstofa hefur gengið frá samkomulagi við Elizu Reid, forsetafrú um að verða sérstakur talsmaður Íslandsstofu á völdum viðburðum erlendis. Þá mun hún vinna með Íslandsstofu að kynningu á íslensku atvinnulífi gagnvart fjölmiðlum og samstarfsaðilum íslenskra fyrirtækja. Það munar svo sannarlega um minna! Ég er sannfærður um að nú þegar við erum komin með eina af okkar allra bestu í hópinn séu Klöru og öðrum þeim sem tengjast íslenskum útflutningsgreinum allir vegir færir.&nbsp;<br /> </span></p>
21. október 2019Blá ör til hægriÁbyrgð Íslands í samfélagi þjóðanna<p><span>Íslendingum er í mun að leggja sitt af mörkum í samfélagi þjóðanna. Í nýlegri könnun kemur fram að 86% þjóðarinnar telji það siðferðislega skyldu Íslands að draga úr fátækt í þróunarríkjum.<br /> <br /> Íslendingar nutu á sínum tíma góðs af lánum frá Alþjóðabankanum á árunum 1951-1973 til uppbyggingar innviða í okkar eigin samfélagi og þarf tæpast að fjölyrða um þá framþróun sem orðið hefur á Íslandi frá miðri síðustu öld. Í dag er Alþjóðabankinn hins vegar einn helsti vettvangur íslenskrar þróunarsamvinnu og næstu tvö árin situr Ísland í stjórn bankans fyrir hönd kjördæmis Eystrasaltsríkjanna og Norðurlandanna.<br /> <br /> Alþjóðaframfarastofnunin (IDA) er ein fimm stofnana Alþjóðabankans og sú þeirra sem aðstoðar fátækustu þróunarríkin. Á hverju ári leggur hún fram um 2.500 milljarða íslenskra króna til hagstæðra lána og nýrra verkefna í fátækum löndum þar sem búa tveir af hverjum þremur sárafátækustu íbúum heimsins.<br /> <br /> Fjármunum er m.a. varið í bætt aðgengi og gæði heilbrigðisþjónustu og grunnmenntunar í þessum löndum. IDA er einnig lykilstofnun í fjármögnun aðgerða í loftslagsmálum og hefur lagt aukna áherslu á að skapa og styðja við markaði í fátækustu ríkjunum til að fá hjól atvinnulífsins til að snúast. Sem framlagsríki kemur Ísland að mótun stefnu og forgangsmála IDA.<br /> <br /> Íslendingar geta verið stoltir af 58 ára farsælu samstarfi við IDA en með því höfum við gegnum tíðina átt þátt í að bólusetja 330 milljónir barna, veita 96 milljónum manna aðgang að heilnæmu vatni og 769 milljónum manna grunnheilbrigðisþjónustu – en slíkur var árangurinn af verkefnum IDA undanfarin átta ár.<br /> <br /> Í nýrri stefnu um alþjóðlega þróunarsamvinnu segir að með virkri þátttöku leitist Ísland við að uppfylla skyldur sínar sem ábyrg þjóð í samfélagi þjóðanna. Þátttaka Íslands í IDA er mikilvægur hluti af því starfi.</span></p> <p><em>Greinin birtist í Fréttablaðinu 21. október 2019</em></p>
20. október 2019Blá ör til hægriÁvarp utanríkisráðherra í þróunarnefndar Alþjóðabankans og Alþjóðagjaldeyrissjóðsins fyrir hönd Norðurlanda og Eystrasaltsríkja<p><span>Thank you chair and congratulations Kristalina on your new role.<br /> &nbsp;<br /> With an uncertain global economic situation and immediate and long-term threats from climate change we must intensify our efforts to reach the goals and agreements we have commonly committed to, including the Sustainable Development Goals and the Paris Agreement.&nbsp;</span></p> <p><span>The World Bank Group is in a unique position to pull together all the strands of this agenda, and we expect the Bank to play a strong and systemic role moving forward.&nbsp;<br /> I want to highlight five issues:</span></p> <p><span>First, the World Development Report underlines the importance of a rule-based trade system for global economic progress. We strongly support the call to strengthen multilateral cooperation in governance and institutions supportive of open and fair trade. While global value chains can continue to boost growth and reduce poverty, equitable distribution of gains and environmental sustainability must be ensured.</span></p> <p><span>Second, there is an urgent need to respond to the immense growth prospects of the labour force in low income countries. Through the Jobs and Economic Transformation agenda the Bank has to support countries in the transition to green and inclusive economies with more and better jobs. Mobilizing the private sector and harnessing new technologies is crucial.&nbsp;</span></p> <p><span>Third, more and better investments to improve education, health and social protection should be a priority, especially in low-income and fragile countries. We welcome the achievements in the Human Capital project to date and the proposed next steps. We stress that intensifying investments in sexual and reproductive health and rights is key to this agenda and to fully reap the demographic dividend.</span></p> <p><span>Fourth, IDA (International Development Association) maintains its central role in supporting the poorest countries, addressing fragility and ensuring that no one is left behind. One of our biggest tasks ahead is to reach a successful Replenishment of IDA19. We support the proposed approach to review the IDA voting rights system and we highlight that it needs to be fair, equitable and fit for purpose.</span></p> <p><span>Fifth, gender equality is fundamental to achieve inclusive and sustainable development. It is long overdue that we close gender gaps with policies and actions for women’s empowerment and full economic participation.</span></p> <p><span>The Bank is a cornerstone of a multilateral system that has contributed to deliver global growth and stability over the last seven decades. We call on the Bank, and its member states, to continue providing the necessary political and financial support to help deliver the multilateral solutions we all need.</span></p> <p><span>Finally, all this may be for little unless we can make progress in addressing the many threats posed by climate change. The Bank must continue its leadership so we can jointly achieve the targets as set out in the Paris Agreement.&nbsp;<br /> </span></p> <div>&nbsp;</div>
12. október 2019Blá ör til hægriOpnunarávarp ráðherra á hliðarviðburði vestnorrænu landanna um grænar orkulausnir<p>Opening address<br /> Break-out Session Arctic Circle Assembly 2019<br /> Green Energy Solutions in the West Nordic Countries – The Way Forward<br /> Ríma B Saturday 12 October, 17:30 <br /> <br /> H.E. Mr Guðlaugur Þór Þórðarson<br /> Minister for Foreign Affairs of Iceland<br /> <br /> Dear colleagues Minister of Foreign Affairs of Faroe Islands, Jenis av Rana, and Minister of Foreign Affairs of Greenland, Ane Lone Bagger<br /> Distinguished speakers and participants,<br /> Ladies and gentlemen.<br /> <br /> It is my pleasure to open this break-out session on Green Energy Solutions in the West Nordic Countries.</p> <p>Climate change is a great challenge that demands cooperation and action by all: Government, industry and the general public.</p> <p>I believe we need stronger and faster progress in all areas of sustainable energy; in access to renewable energy development, energy efficiency and not the least in higher level of financing and stronger policy commitments.</p> <p>Energy transition is one of the most important actions to combat global climate change. A century ago we turned from coals to geothermal in order to heat up the households of Reykjavík. This decision was brave since we were a poor country that had just regained our sovereignty after 650 years. This remarkable decision is still today the key for the well-being of Icelanders.</p> <p>I think the situation today calls for actions guided by the same vision and foresight the politicians in Iceland showed 100 years ago. </p> <p>Iceland is determined to do its bit by reaching the Paris Agreement goals by 2030. Our goal is to achieve at least 40 percent reduction of greenhouse gas emissions by 2030 compared to 1990.</p> <p>In addition, Iceland has also decided to aim for 50% increase in carbon uptake before 2030 and to reach full Carbon Neutrality by 2040. For us this effectively means that we need to decarbonize transport and fisheries. </p> <p>This is not only the task for us, politicians, but it is essential to strive for the full participation of and cooperation with the private sector. Actually, last month we established a special forum for with the private sector on climate and green solutions.</p> <p>Dear guests, </p> <p>The Nordic countries, including our closest neighbours, Greenland and the Faroe Islands, are among the leaders of the green energy transformation.</p> <p>Last week Nordic Energy Research published a report on how the Nordic countries are progressing towards carbon neutrality, tracking the Nordic clean energy progress.</p> <p>The report focuses on several areas and I would like to mention three of them.<br /> Transportation is where we have most to gain in reducing our carbon footprint. <br /> Electrification of transport is likely to become the single-most important measure in the long-term transition of the transport sector to renewable energy.</p> <p>I am happy to tell you that Iceland has the second highest share of electric vehicle sale in the world, 17% of new cars where electric in 2018. Only Norway does better. Furthermore, our newest ferry that sails between the mainland and the Westman Islands, is electric, charged in port. This is the first electric ferry that runs on an open-ocean-route.</p> <p>Second, the Nordic energy intensive sector is already relatively energy- and material-efficient, but there are still considerable gains to be made in decarbonizing of industry.<br /> Therefore, the Icelandic Government has signed a memorandum with the energy intensive industry, (aluminium, ferrosilicon and silicon) on applying carbon capture and storage technology (CarbFix) developed at Hellisheiði geothermal plant. This technology captures CO2 and pumps it into certain rock formations, turning it into solid minerals. </p> <p>It is our hope and ambition that this exciting technology can be developed further, scaled up and adapted for global use. If that will materialize it will mark a big step in the fight against climate change.</p> <p>Thirdly, buildings account for a third of final energy demand in the Nordic countries. We must therefore create the conditions and lower the barriers for the building industry to build more energy efficient and smart buildings. </p> <p>Ladies and gentlemen, </p> <p>The West-Nordic countries are doing relatively well when it comes to renewable energy, but there is still much work to do. </p> <p>The islands here in the North Atlantic face challenges that are in some ways different from the challenges of the bigger Nordic countries and specific to small Arctic communities.<br /> Remoteness, off-the-grid, and weather related challenges are extreme and difficult. Therefore, it is important that we share our solutions and experiences, that we explore together the way forward.</p> <p>This is why we are meeting here today and indeed every year in Harpa at the Arctic Circle.</p> <p>I wish you a fruitful session. <br /> <br /> <br /> </p> <br />
12. október 2019Blá ör til hægriErindi ráðherra á hliðarviðburði Vestnorræna ráðsins á Hringborði norðurslóða<p><span>Break-out Session Arctic Circle Assembly 2019</span><br /> Arctic Interests of the West Nordic Countries,<br /> Reykjavík, Harpa, 12 October 2019 at 16:30</p> <p>Address by Mr. Guðlaugur Þór Þórðarson<br /> Minister for Foreign Affairs<br /> <br /> President of the West-Nordic Council Vivian Motzfeldt</p> <p>Excellencies, dear colleagues, good morning – góðan dag! </p> <p>It is a great pleasure to be with you here today on this occasion. It is obvious from the level of participation in the Arctic Circle this year that our region, the Arctic, is not only high up on the globe but also high on the international agenda. </p> <p>To state the obvious on today’s topic let me say that the Arctic interests and those of Greenland, the Faroe Islands and Iceland are wholly intertwined and indivisible. Our countries are Arctic, our nations are Arctic and our everyday realities are Arctic. And what we have been witnessing for years now, and the world has just recently woken up to, is that our realities are changing, with rising sea levels, storming weathers and growing competition for international trade routes. </p> <p>Since we took over the Chairmanship in the Arctic Council five months ago, we have experienced unprecedented interest in the Arctic. Some members of our West Nordic team have even attracted so much interest that it has caught the attention of the world media!</p> <p>People, states, international organizations, NGO’s and businesses are looking in our direction, both in awe and excitement over the developments taking place. Environmental, economic, social and geopolitical. </p> <p>Now, the West-Nordic Council was granted Arctic Council Observer status in 2017. The two Councils share many common goals and focus areas such as sustainable development, which is in fact the guiding principle during Iceland’s Chairmanship, the environment, climate change, economic development, search and rescue, public health and youth, to name a few.</p> <p>And I would like to commend you for having already proposed work on Arctic youth and substance abuse, a proposal which turned into one of the key events during the Council’s Sustainable Development Working Group’s meeting here in Iceland, last September. This is a prime example of how Observers can influence and strengthen the work of the Arctic Council, to everyone’s benefit.</p> <p>And in fact, the event touched upon two of Iceland’s four key Chairmanship priorities, that is to strengthen the Arctic Council through a more active engagement with Observers and strengthening of Arctic communities. <br /> <br /> Another key priority of the Icelandic chairmanship, which also has a clear relevance to the West-Nordic, is our focus on the Blue BioEconomy, which is all about maximizing the value of marine catches through innovation. Here we obviously need and count on the invaluable experience and knowledge of our West-Nordic partners.</p> <p>Ladies and gentlemen,</p> <p>While the level of excitement is high over the wide ranging effects of developments in the Arctic, it is important to keep a cool head, be firm on one’s principles and have a clear vision on how things must progress in the region. During and beyond the Arctic Council Chairmanship Iceland will emphasise stability, sustainable development and positive social progress through responsible economic development. And in this respect, I am very grateful to have the West-Nordic Council on our team.</p> <p>Thank you.</p> <br />
11. október 2019Blá ör til hægriÁvarp utanríkisráðherra á Hringborði norðurslóða<p>Ávarp á Hringborði norðurslóða<br /> Reykjavík, 11. október 2019</p> <p>Iceland´s Chairmanship of the Arctic Council</p> <p>Mr. Guðlaugur Þór Þórðarson,<br /> Minister for Foreign Affairs of Iceland</p> <p>Your Excellency Ólafur Ragnar Grímsson, Former President of Iceland, <br /> Excellencies,<br /> Ladies and gentlemen,</p> <p>It is a great pleasure to be with you here today at the constantly growing Seventh Arctic Circle Assembly. Former President Grimsson I must begin by congratulating you and your collaborators, on having yet again brought us such an impressive agenda, gathering world leading decision-makers, business leaders, scientists, experts and other stakeholders to collaborate on Arctic affairs. </p> <p>We are witnessing unprecedented changes in the Arctic. Changes that are already having effects way beyond the region. The drastic and undisputed warming of the Arctic climate has direct effects on monsoons in Asia. Opening-up of shipping routes in the Arctic affects world trade, and regions and states where shipping is an important industry. Rising sea levels, resulting from melting of Arctic glaciers, are already having and will continue to have lasting, widespread impacts – and not only in the Arctic but also further away. </p> <p>Moreover, search and rescue activities in the North Atlantic and the Arctic Ocean are extremely challenging. The opening of the Arctic sea routes and the ensuing growth in marine traffic demand that we increase cooperation with individual Arctic States on search and rescue capabilities. This is needed if we are to be able to respond quickly and effectively to environmental and marine accidents. In this respect, taking into account the geographic and strategic location of Iceland, we are looking into the possibility of establishing a search and rescue cluster, in cooperation with our partners.</p> <p>As you all know, Iceland currently chairs the Arctic Council. Our chairmanship program, under the headings Together Towards a Sustainable Arctic, highlights four priority areas:<br /> First the Arctic marine environment.<br /> Secondly climate and green energy solutions.<br /> Thirdly, prosperous and sustainable Arctic communities.<br /> And finally, Iceland will continue to work for a stronger Arctic Council</p> <p>In fact, our Chairmanship Program evolves around one thing - sustainable development.<br /> This should perhaps not come as a surprise since sustainable use of natural resources has transformed Iceland from being one of the poorest countries in Europe into one of the most affluent states in the world, and that in only one century. </p> <p>A century ago, brave Icelanders took the decision to start heating the households of Reykjavík using geothermal district heating. I said brave because that decision was a difficult and costly one for a poor country that had just regained its sovereignty after 650 years and had only one newly established university in the country. </p> <p>This remarkable decision demonstrates the level of foresight and determination that our ancestors had. Thanks to these visionary politicians this step was taken. A step which has underpinned the well-being of our community ever since.</p> <p>Since geothermal energy was also harnessed in Iceland during the Viking times it might be tempting for me boast a little and state that harnessing our national resources was in our DNA. </p> <p>Unfortunately that is not our story - We have had to learn the hard way!</p> <p>After gaining full control of our Exclusive Economic Zone in the mid-70´s we continued overfishing most of our stocks for a few years. Then we realized that drastic measures were necessary in order to avoid a permanent depletion of our stocks. This bitter experience turned out to be a blessing in disguise since it led to the abolition of almost all unrestricted fisheries, paving the way for our present fisheries management system which is based on responsible and sustainable fisheries.</p> <p>Turning away from coals to geothermal energy and from Olympic fisheries to responsible resource management were, in my view, two of Iceland’s most important policy decisions in the last century. These “green” decisions paved the way for a modern and prosperous society. They were not only the right ones, but they were the only ones that could bring our country to the next level. </p> <p>Ladies and Gentlemen! </p> <p>We are still learning, but I can tell you that the introduction of the Blue BioEconomy concept in recent years, has had truly positive societal effects in Iceland. Through innovation and biotechnological solutions, we have learned that it is possible to increase significantly the utilization level of biomass brought ashore, which in turn leads to increased financial gains throughout the value chain. Some Icelandic companies have even manged to eliminate completely biomass-waste from living marine catches. Only a few years ago, this idea would have been thought of as revolutionary. Today, it is simply considered as smart.</p> <p>Innovators and researchers in a small fishing town in the north of Iceland make a product out of a shrimp shells that fights inflammations in the body. This process started more than 20 years ago when a TV journalist filmed the polluted ocean underneath a fishing factory, filled with reddish shrimp shell waste that nobody made use of. Instead of scolding the journalist for the negative piece of news, the fisherman looked himself in the mirror. Today this product is sold overseas and has enabled highly educated people to return and find jobs in their old hometowns. Which they have done, in fact, some even returning from the big metropolises on the continent. </p> <p>Another entrepreneur in a fishing town nearby Reykjavík produces collagen from fish. And just to explain and demonstrate, collagen is supposed to keep one young looking – and as you can clearly see … I take it every morning!</p> <p>I would say that these examples represent sustainable development at its best and in Iceland, this approach laid the foundation for our thriving society and innovation sector. One can say that this idea, of using every gram of a cod or a shrimp represents a very back-to-basics way of thinking. And it is in fact a very modern way of thinking – that is to say that wastefulness is unacceptable. </p> <p>Ladies and Gentlemen.</p> <p>It is of little use to develop elaborate systems and utilize 100% of our catches if our oceans are not healthy. Estimates indicate that over 150 million tonnes of plastics have accumulated in the oceans since the 1950s and each year the equivalent of 525,000 truckloads of plastic enter our oceans. At the continued rate the amount of plastics in the oceans will surpass that of fish by 2050. Just imagine! For the longest time governments were somewhat indifferent towards this problem but fortunately, this is changing. </p> <p>However, for our actions to achieve best results we must adjust and prioritize our responses based on the best available scientific knowledge. To that end the Icelandic government will host an International Symposium on plastics in the Arctic in April 2020. The Conference will bring together leading experts in the field, policy makers and leaders, offering its participants the most recent information available on the problem and focus on best practices and actions. And we of course hope to see all of you here in Harpa for that event next spring.</p> <p>Ladies and Gentlemen.</p> <p>We cannot close our eyes to the fact that the opening up of the Arctic and increased activity there have given rise to increased geopolitical tensions. </p> <p>In that context I would like to emphasize that it is of paramount importance that international law and norms prevail in the Arctic region. A rule-based international system is always more likely to yield lasting outcomes than outdated and old-fashioned power play. </p> <p>It has both been a privilege for Iceland to chair the Arctic Council but, I must admit, also somewhat of a challenge. However, when the going gets tough, I recall an advice from my mother when I was a young boy heading for school in blistering snowstorms in Borgarnes, my birthplace. She told me to zip up and muddle through because in the end the sun would always come out.</p> <p>I wish all of you a fruitful Arctic Circle Assembly.</p> <br />
09. október 2019Blá ör til hægriSaman til sjálfbærni<p><span>Vart líður sá dagur að við fáum ekki nýjar fréttir af þeim miklu umhverfisbreytingum sem eiga sér stað á norðurslóðum vegna hlýnandi loftslags. Ljóst er að þær munu hafa víðtæk áhrif á samfélög á svæðinu og á möguleika þeirra til að vaxa og dafna. Samstarf ríkja á norðurslóðum beinir sjónum að mikilvægi þess að auka þekkingu á umhverfi og samfélögum svæðisins til þess að að auðvelda okkur bregðast við þessum yfirstandandi og yfirvofandi breytingum.&nbsp;</span></p> <p><span>Sjálfbærni er rauður þráður í formennsku Íslands í Norðurskautsráðinu. Við leggjum ríka áherslu á samspil samfélags, efnahags og umhverfis. Þekkingaruppbygging síðustu ára í þágu sjálfbærra samfélaga á harðbýlum svæðum varpar ljósi á mikilvægi samvinnu milli stjórnvalda, vísindasamfélags og fyrirtækja.&nbsp;</span></p> <p><span>Við Íslendingar þekkjum kostina sem felast í slíku samstarfi. Mörg smærri samfélög byggja afkomu sína á uppbyggingu þekkingarfyrirtækja við sjálfbæra nýtingu náttúruauðlinda og hafa þannig skapað sinn framtíðargrundvöll. Í formennsku Íslands í Norðurskautsráðinu nýtum við reynslu íslenskra fyrirtækja á þessum sviðum og höfum komið af stað samstarfsverkefnum aðildarríkja, viðskiptalífs og vísindasamfélags. Ný verkefni ráðsins á sviði bláa lífhagkerfisins og endurnýjanlegrar orku eru til dæmis undir forystu Íslands.&nbsp;</span></p> <p><span>Betri aðgangur að auðlindum norðurslóða og aukið ríkjasamstarf leiðir til nýrra viðskiptatækifæra á svæðinu. Sterkir innviðir, ekki síst á sviði samgangna, hafa líka lykilþýðingu en öflugt samband opinberra aðila og einkageirans er forsenda uppbyggingar þeirra. Þess vegna leggur Ísland í formennskutíð sinni áherslu á aukið samstarf ríkja og einkafyrirtækja á norðurslóðum.&nbsp;</span></p> <p><span>Til marks um þetta er fyrsti fundur Norðurskautsráðsins og Efnahagsráðs norðurslóða sem hefst í Reykjavík í dag. Þar koma saman fulltrúar aðildarríkjanna átta, frumbyggjasamtaka og fyrirtækja sem starfa á svæðinu. Markmiðið er skýrt: Að vinna sameiginlega að sjálfbærri efnahagsþróun á norðurslóðum, íbúum svæðisins til hagsbóta. Þannig stöndum við sterkari til að tryggja framtíð þessa mikilvæga heimshluta.&nbsp;<br /> </span></p> <div><em>Greinin birtist í Fréttablaðinu 9. október 2019</em></div>
01. október 2019Blá ör til hægriÁvarp ráðherra á málstofu um eftirlit með EES-samningnum<p class="MsoNormal">MÁLSTOFA UM EFTIRLIT MEÐ EES-SAMNINGNUM<br /> HÁSKÓLANUM Í REYKJAVÍK, 1. OKTÓBER 2019<br /> <strong>ÁVARP UTANRÍKISRÁÐHERRA</strong></p> <p class="MsoNormal">Góðir fundarmenn,</p> <p>Það er mér heiður og sönn ánægja að ávarpa þennan fund hér í dag. Sjálft efni fundarins, eftirlit með framkvæmd EES-samningsins, segir svo margt um hið sérstaka eðli þessa samnings.</p> <p>Þótt EES-samningurinn sé mikilvægasti viðskiptasamningur okkar Íslendinga, þá er hann annað og meira en viðskiptasamningur. Hann er réttindasamningur. Hann kveður á um réttindi einstaklinga og fyrirtækja á 500 milljóna manna markaðsvæði sem nær yfir mest alla Evrópu.</p> <p>Fyrir fólk og fyrirtæki frá litlu landi skipta þessi réttindi enn meira máli en þeirra sem frá stærri löndum koma. Af hverju? Jú, vegna þess að stærri ríki eiga eðli máls samkvæmt auðveldara með að tryggja hagsmuni sína í samskiptum ríkja en hin smærri.<br /> Þau réttindi sem Íslendingar njóta á innri markaðnum byggjast á skuldbindingum allra aðildarríkja samningsins. Þannig koma EES-reglur í veg fyrir þýsk stórfyrirtæki beiti aflsmunum gagnvart íslenskum fyrirtækjum á innri markaðnum.</p> <p>EES-samningurinn felur í sér að íslensk fyrirtæki keppa á jafnræðisgrundvelli við evrópsk fyrirtæki á þeim sviðum sem samningurinn varðar.</p> <p>EES-samningurinn felur líka í sér að Íslendingar geta búið og unnið hvar sem er á EES-svæðinu, og jafnvel notið elliáranna á Spáni kjósi þeir að gera það, enda tryggja reglur EES-samningsins samræmda og samfellda framkvæmd löggjafar á sviði almannatryggingar. Það er réttur Íslendinga samkvæmt samningnum, hvort sem spænskum yfirvöldum líkar betur eða verr.</p> <p>En til að tryggja þessi réttindi þarf að hafa eftirlit með framkvæmd samningsins og stundum þarf að leysa úr deilumálum sem varða framkvæmd hans.</p> <p>Höfum í huga að úrlausn deilumála er eitt vandasamasta verkefnið í öllum samskiptum ríkja. Stundum er kveðið á um það í milliríkjasamningum að ríki skuli leysa úr deilumálum með vinsamlegum hætti. Það lítur ágætlega út á blaði en í reynd þýðir það að aflsmunur ræður niðurstöðunni.</p> <p>Lítil ríki eiga þess vegna allt undir því að úrlausn deilumála sé í föstum skorðum og á jafnræðisgrundvelli.</p> <p>Einn mikilvægasti og jafnframt merkilegasti þáttur EES-samningsins er tveggja stoða kerfið en með því fengum við okkar eigin stofnanir til að hafa eftirlit og skera úr um hvort við EES EFTA ríkin erum að framfylgja samningnum. Eftirlitsstofnun EFTA er þannig lykilþáttur í tveggja stoða kerfinu, ásamt EFTA-dómstólnum.</p> <p>Þessi lausn er einstök og helgast fyrst og fremst af sterkri samningsstöðu EFTA-ríkjanna, sem þá voru 9 talsins, við gerð EES-samningsins. Hægt er að fullyrða að ógjörningur yrði að semja um slíkt fyrirkomulag milli EFTA og ESB í dag, hvað þá í tvíhliða samningum milli Íslands og ESB.</p> <p>Það má því segja að tveggja stoða kerfið sé barn síns tíma, í þeim skilningi að slíkt barn yrði ekki getið í dag. Það er hins vegar orðið 25 ára gamalt, hefur tekið út mikinn þroska og nýtur virðingar bæði af hálfu EFTA ríkjanna og framkvæmdastjórnar ESB.</p> <p>Ekkert er hins vegar hafið yfir málefnalega gagnrýni og ég vona að fundurinn í dag leggi sitt af mörkum til að bæta enn frekar hið mikilvæga starf sem Eftirlitsstofnunin hefur með hendi, en ekki síður til að efla skilning milli þeirra sem með þessi mál fara og um þau fjalla.</p> <p>Góðir fundarmenn.<br /> Fyrir rétt rúmu ári síðan ákvað ég í tilefni af skýrslubeiðni á Alþingi að skipa starfshóp undir forystu Björns Bjarnasonar til vinna skýrslu um aðild Íslands að EES-samningnum og meta kosti og galla aðildar Íslands að samningnum.</p> <p>Ég get greint frá því hér að skýrsla starfshópsins er tilbúin og var henni dreift á Alþingi í morgun. Síðar dag mun starfshópurinn kynna helstu niðurstöður sínar.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Þótt tilviljun ráði því að þennan fund beri upp á sama dag og þessari skýrslu er skilað til Alþingis, þá er það mjög við hæfi. EES-samningurinn er einstakur og líklega einn mikilvægasti alþjóðasamningur sem við Íslendingar höfum gert.</p> <p>Það er staðreynd að um þriðjungur Íslendinga er fæddur eftir gildistöku samningsins og líklegt er að stór hluti landsmanna muni vart eftir lífinu fyrir tilkomu EES. Þetta er EES-kynslóðin ef svo mætti að orði komast. </p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Við höfum á síðustu 25 árum notið ríkulega góðs af kostum EES-samningsins en á þessu tímabili höfum við líklega farið að taka sem sjálfsögðum hlut þeim réttindum og þeim ávinningi sem samningurinn færir okkur.</p> <p>Nýleg atlaga að EES-samningnum sem klædd var í baráttu gegn þriðja orkupakkanum sýndi okkur fram á að við eigum helst á hættu að glata því sem við tökum sem gefnu. Sú atlaga vakti marga af værum svefni en á endanum varð henni hrundið.</p> <p>Það er von mín að skýrsla starfshópsins lyfti umræðu um EES-samninginn á hærra plan en verið hefur síðustu misseri.</p> <p>Og ég er þess fullviss að málefnaleg og vönduð skoðun á 25 ára reynslu okkar af EES-samninginn sem sýnir ótvíræðan ávinning af aðild okkar verði okkur einnig hvatning til að bæta framkvæmd samningsins enn frekar.</p> <p>Það er nefnilega svo að á grundvelli EES-samningsins erum við Íslendingar okkar eigin gæfu smiðir. </p> <p>Við þurfum að bæta framkvæmd samningsins. Öflug þátttaka og virk hagsmunagæsla eru lykillinn að árangri í EES-samstarfinu. Það þýðir ekki að sitja á hliðarlínunni þó að samningurinn sé okkur hagfelldur. </p> <p>Það er á okkar ábyrgð að nýta þau mörgu tækifæri sem EES-samningurinn veitir okkur.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Góðir fundarmenn.<br /> Ég vil að lokum þakka Alþjóða- og Evrópuréttarstofnunar Háskólans í Reykjavík fyrir þeirra frumkvæði síðustu misserin við að efna til málefnalegrar umræðu um EES-samninginn og gildi hans fyrir íslenskt samfélag. Það frumkvæði sem hér hefur verið sýnt skiptir miklu máli.</p> <p>Takk fyrir.</p> <br />
28. september 2019Blá ör til hægriRæða utanríkisráðherra á 74. allsherjarþingi Sameinuðu þjóðanna<p><span>74 United Nations General Assembly<br /> Speech by&nbsp;<br /> H.E. Mr. Guðlaugur Þór Þórðarson<br /> Minister for Foreign Affairs of Iceland<br /> <br /> Mr. President, Excellencies, ladies and gentlemen,<br /> </span></p> <p><span>Next year, we will celebrate the 75th anniversary of the United Nations. This fundamental cornerstone of the international rule-based order, along with other important building blocks, has served us well. We live in a world that has become ever more interconnected and the most demanding challenges of our times call for even greater unity and global action.</span></p> <p><span>Still, this architecture is being tried and tested. It remains our responsibility to ensure that the principles, rights and obligations, enshrined in the UN Charter, including safeguarding peace and promoting development and human rights, are fulfilled and carried out in good faith. History tells us that these goals are best achieved in open democracies where fundamental freedoms are respected and allow for individuals and nation-states to prosper. And, most importantly, where politicians are accountable for their words and deeds, both at home and abroad.<br /> <br /> We need to safeguard the international rules-based system, with the United Nations at the helm but also, where need be, pursue reforms if the system is no longer serving the very ideals it is founded upon – and even rewards states that violate our principles.</span></p> <p><span>Mr. President,</span></p> <p><span>Small and medium-size states, in fact the vast majority of UN members, should not shy away from taking on a more active role on the global scene. Iceland, for its part, is prepared to shoulder responsibility and has steadily increased contributions to UN funds and programs. We have also taken on a more active role within various UN and other international and regional bodies.</span></p> <p><span>Last year, for the first time, Iceland became a member of the United Nations Human Rights Council. It is a privilege and responsibility that we take seriously. Human rights, and treating one another with respect and fairness, is the basic DNA for progress, peace and development. During our tenure, Iceland has actively promoted gender equality, children’s rights and rights of LGBTI individuals. We have also advocated for much-needed reforms in the work and composition of the Council where we continue to see certain member states elected as full members, passing judgements and casting votes abroad while their human rights record at home should be on trial.&nbsp;&nbsp;</span></p> <p><span>The Human Rights Council is the focal point and driving force for protecting and promoting human rights and making sure that all states honour their commitments that they have voluntarily signed up to. True, UN member states are diverse and deal with different challenges, but regional groups and UN member states should make sure that those serving in the Council are truly committed to upholding human rights.</span></p> <p><span>In Iceland, our experience shows that individual and human rights are essential for positive economic and social development. This rings particularly true for gender equality, which has allowed our society to prosper and thrive. But this is not a competition. Our goals should be common - to make sure that women everywhere can realize their individual strengths and pave the way for sustainable development that leaves no one behind. Next year, the 25th anniversary of the Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action in 2020 will be an important opportunity to reflect on our progress and shortcomings - and chart the way forward.&nbsp;</span></p> <p><span>Mr. President,</span></p> <p><span>Iceland is committed to pursuing and implementing the Sustainable Development Goals, both at home and in international cooperation. For Icelanders, sustainability is not a new concept. More than a century ago we started using geothermal power for heating our houses. And decades ago we realised that our essentials fishing stocks would need to be protected and harvested in a sustainable way. Sustainability has been the key to our survival for a long time and that is not going to change.</span></p> <p><span>In July, we presented our first Voluntary National Review. So far, the sustainable development record seems mixed but important achievements have been made in some fields, including on gender equality, reducing child mortality and fighting communicable diseases.&nbsp;&nbsp;</span></p> <p><span>More effort and research are, however, needed in addressing non-communicable diseases and neurological disorders, including spinal cord injuries, that affect up to a billion people worldwide. Iceland will continue to promote cooperation on research and raise awareness in this important field.&nbsp;&nbsp;</span></p> <p><span>Iceland will also continue to share insights and expertise in renewable energy, gender equality, land restoration and fisheries – all of which can act as powerful levers for sustainable development. United Nations training programs in Iceland in these fields have played an important role in exporting know-how and, still, many untapped opportunities remain for closer partnerships between trade, development and business.</span></p> <p><span>Such synergies should be promoted, and it remains my firm belief that open, fair, and free trade is the single most important driver for economic growth, stability and breaking the bonds of poverty. We need to ensure that the all states can reap the benefits of the multilateral trading system. We need to build bridges, not barriers, if we want to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals.&nbsp;</span></p> <p><span>Mr. President,</span></p> <p><span>Climate change is the one of the most important challenge of our times, if not the most important one. It affects global security, sustainable development, the health of our environment and, ultimately, human civilization. This is not a distant abstraction, but a stark reality. In the Arctic, including in my country, we are witnessing glaciers melting and vanishing, and our seas and marine life are rapidly changing. And let us keep in mind that these development in the world´s northernmost region have global repercussions. What happens in the Arctic does not stay in the Arctic.&nbsp;&nbsp;</span></p> <p><span>Iceland is firmly committed to reaching the Paris Agreement goals by 2030. We have done quite well so far, with almost 100% of our electricity and heating now based on renewables. But we can do even better and therefore we are aiming to reach full carbon neutrality by 2040.&nbsp;</span></p> <p><span>Climate change and the health of our oceans are a key priority in our foreign policy, including in the Arctic Council and in Nordic co-operation, which Iceland currently chair. Over 70% of the surface of the planet is covered by water. Yet, we tend to think of climate change only in connection with the atmosphere. Our oceans are of crucial importance for any meaningful discussion on climate change and have too often been on the margins instead of at the centre. Climate change is also Ocean change.&nbsp;</span></p> <p><span>The Convention on the Law of the Sea, the global constitution for our oceans, is the most important tool for ensuring the conservation and sustainable use of our marine environment. It is our firm belief that more effective implementation of the Convention and regional management of conservation and sustainable use of our oceans is the best way to ensure their long-term health. A new BBNJ instrument that is being negotiated at the UN might become an important tool for conservation and sustainable use of biological diversity on our high seas, if based on consensus and universal participation.</span></p> <p><span>The fight against climate change needs to begin at home, but the high-income countries also need to support lower-income countries in addressing the causes and consequences of climate change. This is a focus area in Iceland´s new development cooperation policy and, earlier this week, my Government announced that we would double our contributions to the Green Climate Fund. Also, let us bear in mind that some of the most effective solutions are low cost, simple and nature-based solutions like land restoration. Furthermore, we need to work more effectively with the private sector to achieve our common goals.&nbsp;</span></p> <p><span>The Climate Action Summit earlier this week was an important event. We must now build on the momentum and push for further actions. We have no time to spare.</span></p> <p><span>Mr. President,</span></p> <p><span>The connection between climate change, human rights, development and security is evident in many conflicts and demand a wholistic approach. We support the Secretary General´s in-house reform agenda and believe it will make the United Nations more fit for purpose. However, the Security Council, not least its permanent members, need to take on a more active role in preventing and resolving these crises, and live up to their responsibility as enshrined in the UN Charter. We must act and make full use of the tools available to hold to account those responsible for breaking international law, including before the International Criminal Court.</span></p> <p><span>In Syria, there seems to be no end to the carnage. Attacks on civilians occur on a regular basis, leaving the country in ruins and large parts of its population displaced. In Yemen, with the surge in fighting, there is a real risk that the hard-won gains in trying to establish peace and political process will be ruined – again adding to the already immense suffering of the civil population. Regional powerbrokers, which fuel tensions and fund the warring parties, need to step back in support of a peaceful political process. In this context, the recent drone attacks on Saudi-Arabia, intensifying an already intense situation, are of grave concern.</span></p> <p><span>The fighting in Libya also continues and there is an urgent need for a ceasefire to pave the way for the UN-supported political process. The issue of Western Sahara remains unresolved and developments in Israel and Palestine seem to bring us further away from the only viable solution of peaceful coexistence – the two-state solution. In Venezuela the appalling humanitarian situation, driven onwards by the Maduro regime, continues to be of great concern with 4.3 million people having fled the country and the ongoing crisis. In Myanmar, it remains important to keep our focus on the plight of the Rohingya population and we have not forgotten the blatant disregard for the sovereignty and territorial integrity of Ukraine and Georgia.&nbsp;</span></p> <p><span>These, and unfortunately other protracted conflicts, amid the growing distrust between major powers, call for a greater commitment, creative thinking and more resources, both to the traditional arms control, disarmament and non-proliferation agenda, but also emerging technologies, cyber security and hybrid threats.&nbsp;</span></p> <p><span>Mr. President,</span></p> <p><span>The great generation that build the United Nations after the horrors of the Second World War is gradually leaving us – a generation that witnessed the arms race and highest tensions of the Cold War and fought for many of our civil liberties. Their legacy will never die, and as we celebrate the 75th anniversary of this great organization next year, we should remember their achievements, but also look ahead and into our hearts and discuss how we can best promote the values and principles of the United Nations.</span></p> <p><span>We must never forget that our rules-based international system is based upon determination and awareness that derived from one of the greatest tragedies in human history. We must never take it for granted.</span></p> <p><span>Thank you.<br /> </span></p> <div>&nbsp;</div>
26. september 2019Blá ör til hægriGetum verið stolt af okkar verki í mannréttindaráðinu<p><span>Á morgun lýkur 42. fundarlotu mannréttindaráðs Sameinuðu þjóðanna, fjórðu og síðustu reglubundnu lotunni sem Ísland tekur þátt í sem fullgildur meðlimur. Ísland situr þó áfram í ráðinu til loka ársins og tekur þátt í öðrum störfum þess, s.s. fyrirtöku allsherjarúttekta á mannréttindamálum í einstökum ríkjum í nóvember. Þá er fulltrúi Íslands varaforseti ráðsins og áfram í nægu að snúast.&nbsp;</span></p> <p><span>Ísland og fulltrúar þess hafa með störfum sínum í ráðinu sýnt rækilega fram á að smáríki geta látið til sín taka í þágu mannréttinda hafi þau algild mannréttindi í forgrunni og sýni frumkvæði. Ég er ekki einn um þessa skoðun, virtustu mannréttindasamtök heimsins hafa ítrekað vakið athygli á frammistöðu Íslands og vinir okkar á Norðurlöndum hafa tekið í sama streng.&nbsp;</span></p> <p><span>Í mars síðastliðnum var Ísland í forystu 36 ríkja sem fluttu sameiginlega yfirlýsingu vegna mannréttindaástands í Sádi-Arabíu. Yfirlýsingunni var svo fylgt eftir í lotunni sem nú er að ljúka. Þetta var í fyrsta skipti sem fjallað var um stöðuna í Sádi-Arabíu með svo afgerandi hætti í mannréttindaráðinu.&nbsp;&nbsp;</span></p> <p>Ekki vakti síður athygli þegar mannréttindaráðið samþykkti í júlí ályktun Íslands um mannréttindaástand á Filippseyjum. Um það mál, eins og frumkvæði okkar varðandi Sádi-Arabíu, hefur verið fjallað á innlendum og erlendum vettvangi með þeim hætti að fyllsta ástæða er fyrir okkur að bera höfuðið hátt. Átakanlegt var að hlusta á fulltrúa filippeysku kirkjunnar og ástvini þeirra sem hafa látist í svonefndu fíkniefnastríði filippeyskra stjórnvalda þegar þeir komu hingað til lands fyrir skemmstu. Full ástæða er til að óháð rannsókn fari fram á þessu máli.&nbsp;</p> <p><span>Ég hef gagnrýnt það sérstaklega að ríki á borð við Sádi-Arabíu hafa í gegnum tíðina sloppið við gagnrýni í mannréttindaráðinu á meðan önnur eru þar stöðugt undir smásjánni. Sem dæmi má nefna Ísrael. Ekkert ríki ætti að vera stikkfrí í þessum málum, en hins vegar má gera kröfu um að kjörin aðildarríki ráðsins gangi á undan með góðu fordæmi. Þess vegna skýtur skökku við að einmitt um þessar mundir eru bæði Filippseyjar og Sádi-Arabía kjörnir fulltrúar í mannréttindaráðinu og nú lítur út fyrir að Venesúela verði kosið aftur í ráðið í október. Framganga þessara ríkja í mannréttindamálum sendir einfaldlega röng skilaboð.&nbsp;&nbsp;<br /> Mannréttindaráðið er ekki gallalaus stofnun, en einmitt þess vegna höfum við viljað stuðla að umbótum og hefur öll okkar framganga miðast við það.&nbsp;</span></p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <h4>Mikil breidd í starfinu</h4> <p><span>Önnur ályktun sem Ísland lagði fram ásamt fleiri ríkjum í sumar sneri að jöfnum launum karla og kvenna. Hún var samþykkt án atkvæðagreiðslu og voru meðflutningsríki ályktunarinnar á sjöunda tug. Við erum stolt af því að ályktun um kynjajafnréttistengd mál hafi náð fram að ganga.&nbsp;&nbsp;</span></p> <p><span>Þá er ástæða til að nefna að forsætisráðherra ávarpaði mannréttindaráðið í júnílotunni og fyrr á árinu tók félags- og barnamálaráðherra þátt í umræðum um málefni barna. Í byrjun þessa mánaðar kom svo hingað til lands í mínu boði sjálfstæður sérfræðingur Sameinuðu þjóðanna um málefni hinsegin fólks. Hann flutti bæði opinberan fyrirlestur og fundaði með fagfólki, s.s. á sviði heilbrigðismála, fulltrúum Samtakanna 78 og biskupi Íslands. Við metum nú góðar ábendingar hans um hvernig við getum gert enn betur hér heima í málefnum hinsegin fólks og um leið verið öflug rödd á alþjóðavettvangi á þessu sviði.&nbsp;&nbsp;</span></p> <p><span>Allt þetta sýnir breidd þess starfs sem við höfum staðið fyrir á árinu. Við höfum komið víða við og látið til okkar taka en þó ætíð út frá skýrt afmarkaðri áætlun um að standa við þau fyrirheit sem við gáfum í upphafi. Við eigum eftir að gera betur upp setuna í mannréttindaráðinu en vilji minn stendur til þess að á næstu mánuðum fari fram upplýst umræða um framgöngu okkar og árangur, um mannréttindaráðið sem stofnun, og auðvitað um mannréttindi almennt. Með því getum við skerpt enn stefnu okkar í þessum efnum og byggt á henni til framtíðar.&nbsp;</span></p> <p><span><em>Greinin birtist í Fréttablaðinu 26. september 2019</em><br /> &nbsp;<br /> </span></p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <div>&nbsp;</div>
26. september 2019Blá ör til hægriAtvinnulífið og þróunarsamvinna<p>Í vor var þingsályktunartillaga að nýrri þróunarsamvinnustefnu fyrir árin 2019-2023 samþykkt á Alþingi. Stefnan byggir á heimsmarkmiðum Sameinuðu þjóðanna sem hafa þegar markað straumhvörf í þróunarsamvinnu nágrannaríkja okkar.</p> <p>Stefnt er að auknu samstarfi atvinnulífs, félagasamtaka og stjórnvald sem er forsenda þess að raunverulegur árangur náist við að útrýma fátækt og auka velsæld í þróunarríkjum. Þessi ríki sækjast eftir erlendum fjárfestingum til að byggja upp atvinnugreinar sem geta drifið sjálfbæran vöxt, skapað störf og aukið velsæld. </p> <p><strong>Aukið samstarf við félagasamtök og atvinnulífið<br /> </strong>Á Norðurlöndunum vinna stjórnvöld í auknum mæli með fyrirtækjum og félagasamtökum að verkefnum sem miða að því að skapa atvinnu og auka hagvöxt í þróunarlöndum. Á sama tíma hefur áhugi norrænna fyrirtækja aukist á þróunarlöndum sem áhugaverðum mörkuðum þar sem tækifærum mun fjölga ört á komandi árum.</p> <p>Fjárfestingar í þróunarríkjum geta skilað bæði fjárfestum og samfélögunum töluverðum ávinningi þótt þeim fylgi oft nokkur áhætta. Með samvinnu stjórnvalda, félagasamtaka og atvinnulífs má lágmarka áhættuna, bæði með opinberum stuðningi við einstök verkefni og með því að nýta þekkingu á staðarháttum og tengslanet stjórnvalda við alþjóðastofnanir og stjórnvöld á staðnum. </p> <p>Meginmarkmið með framlagi Íslands til þróunarsamvinnu er uppbygging félagslegra innviða, störf í þágu friðar, verndun jarðarinnar og sjálfbær nýting náttúruauðlinda. Aðkoma íslensks atvinnulífs, sem býr yfir frumkvæði og margs konar sérþekkingu sem getur nýst við að leysa flókin verkefni, er mikilvægur þáttur í þessari uppbyggingu. </p> <p>Utanríkisráðuneytið hefur útfært tvær meginleiðir sem eiga að auka samstarfstækifæri á sviði þróunarsamvinnu í þágu heimsmarkmiða. Fyrri leiðin beinist sérstaklega að verkefnum fyrirtækja og seinni leiðin að verkefnum á vegum félagasamtaka með þátttöku fyrirtækja. Með þessum leiðum er vonast eftir aukinni þátttöku íslensks atvinnulífs og víðtækara samstarfi fleiri aðila í þróunarsamvinnu með það að markmiði að draga úr fátækt og styðja við atvinnusköpun og sjálfbæran vöxt í fátækum ríkjum. </p> <p><strong>Samstarfssjóður við atvinnulífið </strong><br /> Fyrir tæpu ári hleypti ég af stokkunum nýjum samstarfssjóði atvinnulífs og íslenskra stjórnvalda um heimsmarkmið Sameinuðu þjóðanna til að virkja þekkingu, fjármagn og frumkvæði íslenskra fyrirtækja á þessum vettvangi. Sjóðurinn er ætlaður samstarfsverkefnum fyrirtækja í þróunarríkjum og lögð er sérstök áhersla á að verkefni styðji við heimsmarkmið númer átta um mannsæmandi atvinnu og sjálfbæran hagvöxt. </p> <p>Fyrstu íslensku fyrirtækin sem vinna með stjórnvöldum gegnum sjóðinn eru Marel og Thoregs sem hlutu styrk fyrr á þessu ári. Bæði verkefnin byggja á íslensku hugviti og verkþekkingu. Þau koma til með að stuðla að aukinni þekkingu á tækni og vinnslu í matvælaiðnaði með það að markmiði að hafa bein áhrif á verðmæti afurða, uppbyggingu atvinnumöguleika og sjálfbæran vöxt í viðkomandi landi. </p> <p>Utanríkisráðuneytið auglýsti á dögunum að nýju eftir umsóknum um styrki úr samstarfssjóðnum, en allt að 200 m.kr. verða til ráðstöfunar úr honum á þessu ári. Hámarksfjárhæð til einstakra verkefna er allt að 200.000 evrur yfir þriggja ára tímabil en styrkfjárhæð getur numið allt að 50 prósent af heildarkostnaði verkefnis. Að þessu sinni verður einnig mögulegt að sækja um forkönnunarstyrki, sem geta numið allt að 2 m.kr. Styrkjunum er ætlað að styðja við hugmyndir eða verkefni á frumstigi sem geta leitt af sér stærri þróunarverkefni. </p> <p>Heimsmarkmiðin eru sameiginleg ábyrgð okkar allra og í þeim felast bæði áskoranir og tækifæri. Nú er kominn fram vettvangur þar sem íslenskt atvinnulíf getur lagt lóð sín á vogarskálarnar og skilgreint leiðir til að skapa gagnkvæman ávinning. Við vonumst til þess að sem flestir sjái þar tækifæri til að skapa virðisauka fyrir alla aðila og vinna með okkur að því að ná sameiginlegum markmiðum. </p> <p>Frekari upplýsingar um styrkveitingar og umsóknarferlið er að finna á <a href="http://www.utn.is/heimsljos">www.utn.is/heimsljos</a>, en umsóknarfrestur er til 15. október nk.</p> <p><em>Greinin birtist í Viðskiptablaðinu 26. september 2019.</em></p>
10. september 2019Blá ör til hægriOpnunarávarp á málþingi um þátttöku fyrirtækja í þróunarsamvinnu <p>Opnunarávarp<br /> Þátttaka fyrirtækja í þróunarsamvinnu, þróunarsamvinna ber ávöxt<br /> Sturla Sigurjónsson, ráðuneytisstjóri utanríkisráðuneytisins, fyrir hönd Guðlaugs Þórs Þorlagssona, utanríkisráðherra<br /> <br /> Ágætu gestir,</p> <p>Það er mér sönn ánægja að ávarpa ykkur hér í dag á málstofu undir yfirskriftinni „Þátttaka fyrirtækja í þróunarsamvinnu“.</p> <p>Í byrjun maí var þingsályktunartillaga að nýrri þróunarsamvinnustefnu fyrir árin 2019-2023 samþykkt á Alþingi. Stefnan byggir á heimsmarkmiðum Sameinuðu þjóðanna sem hafa þegar markað breyttar áherslur í þróunarsamvinnu.</p> <p>Þessi nýja stefna er áþekk fyrri áætlunum en endurspeglar breytingar sem hafa orðið í alþjóðlegri þróunarsamvinnu á síðustu misserum með samþykkt heimsmarkmiðanna, með tilkomu Parísarsamkomulagsins um loftslagsmál og samkomulagsins um fjármögnun þróunarsamvinnu í Addis Ababa. Þannig slær hún nýjan tón um aukið samstarf milli atvinnulífs, félagasamtaka og stjórnvalda.</p> <p>Þjóðarleiðtogar heims hafa lagt áherslu á að ekki verði unnt að fjármagna heimsmarkmið eingöngu með opinberum framlögum til þróunarsamvinnu og að auka þurfi fjárfestingar einkaaðila til þess að markmiðunum verði náð árið 2030.</p> <p>Við höfum séð það annars staðar á Norðurlöndunum að stjórnvöld vinna í auknum mæli með fyrirtækjum og félagasamtökum að verkefnum sem miða að því að skapa atvinnu og auka hagvöxt í þróunarlöndum. Á sama tíma hefur áhugi norrænna fyrirtækja aukist á þróunarlöndum sem áhugaverðum vaxtarmörkuðum þar sem tækifærum mun fjölga ört á komandi árum. Þau hafa séð sér hag í að fjárfesta í innviðauppbyggingu og mannauði í samstarfi við þarlend stjórnvöld.</p> <p>Meginmarkmið með framlagi Íslands til þróunarsamvinnu er uppbygging félagslegra innviða, störf í þágu friðar, verndun jarðarinnar og sjálfbær nýting náttúruauðlinda. Aðkoma atvinnulífsins – sem býr yfir frumkvæði og margs konar sérþekkingu sem getur nýst við að leysa flókin verkefni – er mikilvægur þáttur í þessari uppbyggingu. Í því samhengi má nefna að níu af hverjum tíu störfum í þróunarlöndum verða til í einkageiranum og hvert starf útrýmir fátækt fimm einstaklinga.</p> <p>Framlag félagasamtaka til samstarfsins er ekki síður verðmætt. Í fjölda ára höfum við átt gott samstarf við félagasamtök á sviði þróunarsamvinnu og mannúðaraðstoðar og munum halda því áfram. Utanríkisráðuneytið leggur nú aukna áherslu á samstarf við félagasamtök í víðara samhengi en hefðbundið hjálparstarf, meðal annars félagasamtök sem tengjast atvinnulífinu og búa yfir mikilli þekkingu af tilteknum atvinnugreinum. </p> <p>Fjárfestingar á vaxandi mörkuðum þróunarríkja geta skilað bæði fjárfestum og samfélögunum töluverðum ávinningi þótt þeim fylgi oft nokkur áhætta. Með samvinnu stjórnvalda, félagasamtaka og atvinnulífs má lágmarka áhættuna, bæði með opinberum stuðningi við einstök verkefni og með því að nýta þekkingu á staðarháttum og tengslanet stjórnvalda við alþjóðastofnanir og stjórnvöld á staðnum.</p> <p>Samstarf við aðila í þróunarríkjum miðar að uppbyggingu stöðugs alþjóðlegs viðskiptaumhverfis og sjálfbærra viðskipta í þróunarríkjunum, enda eru aukin viðskipti og ný tækifæri hagsmunamál okkar allra þegar til lengri tíma er litið. Samstarf byggist á forsendum viðtökuríkja, en jafnréttis-, mannréttinda- og umhverfissjónarmið – sem eru þverlæg málefni í þróunarsamvinnu Íslands – skulu ávallt höfð í heiðri.</p> <p>Til þess að skapa ramma um þetta samstarf hefur utanríkisráðuneytið útfært tvær meginleiðir sem ætlað er að auka samstarfstækifæri á sviði þróunarsamvinnu í þágu heimsmarkmiða. Fyrri leiðin beinist sérstaklega að verkefnum fyrirtækja og seinni leiðin að verkefnum sem félagasamtök veita forystu. Verkefnin skulu ávallt vera til hagsbóta og skapa verðmæti í þróunarlöndum og hafa skýra tengingu við eitt eða fleiri þeirra heimsmarkmiða sem Ísland leggur sérstaka áherslu á. </p> <p>Með þessum leiðum er vonast eftir aukinni þátttöku íslensks atvinnulífs og víðtækara samstarfs fleiri aðila í þróunarsamvinnu í samræmi við heimsmarkmiðin, með það að markmiði að draga úr fátækt og styðja við atvinnusköpun og sjálfbæran vöxt í fátækum ríkjum. </p> <p>Með samstarfsleiðum teljum við að fjölbreyttir samstarfsmöguleikar atvinnulífs og félagasamtaka skapist í þróunarlöndum, sem til lengri tíma litið er ætlað að skila árangri fyrir þróunarsamvinnu. Á sama tíma sjái fyrirtæki og félagasamtök sér langtímahag og ávinning í slíku samstarfi. Í stóra samhenginu er um að ræða sameiginlega hagsmuni: uppbygging stöðugs viðskiptaumhverfis og sjálfbærra viðskipta í þróunarlöndum er forsenda erlendra fjárfestinga, atvinnutækifæra, aukinna viðskipta og nýrra tækifæra.</p> <p>Til að virkja þekkingu, fjármagn og frumkvæði íslenskra fyrirtækja í þessu samhengi, hefur ráðuneytið hleypt af stokkunum nýjum samstarfssjóði atvinnulífs og íslenskra stjórnvalda um heimsmarkmið Sameinuðu þjóðanna. Markmiðið með sjóðnum er að með frekar lágum upphafsstyrkjum til verkefna megi útfæra stærri og arðbær verkefni sem fá frekari fjármögnun annars staðar frá. Þessi verkefni skapa aukna mannsæmandi atvinnu og hagvöxt í þróunarlöndum til lengri tíma. </p> <p>Heimsmarkmiðin eru sameiginleg ábyrgð okkar allra og í þeim felast bæði áskoranir og tækifæri. Nú er kominn vettvangur þar sem íslenskt atvinnulíf getur lagt sín lóð á vogarskálarnar og skilgreint leiðir til að skapa gagnkvæman ávinning. Við vonumst til þess að sem flestir sjái tækifæri í þessum samstarfsvettvangi til að skapa virðisauka fyrir alla aðila og vinna með okkur að því að ná sameiginlegum markmiðum.</p> <p>Að lokum er það er mér sérstaklega ánægjulegt að fá að upplýsa ykkur hér á málstofu um þátttöku fyrirtækja í þróunarsamvinnu að auglýst hefur verið að nýju eftir umsóknum um styrki úr nýja samstarfssjóði atvinnulífsins og íslenskra stjórnvalda um heimsmarkmið Sameinuðu þjóðanna. En nánari kynning á sjóðnum, sem og reynslusaga fyrirtækisins Marels – sem hlaut styrk í janúar sl. – verður hér síðar á málsstofunni. </p> <p>Takk fyrir.</p>
09. september 2019Blá ör til hægriÞróunarsamvinna ber ávöxt, Eftir nokkurra ára hlé hefur vitundarvakningu íslenskra félagasamtaka í alþjóðastarfi, Þróunarsamvinna ber ávöxt, nú verið hleypt af stokkunum á nýjan leik. Það er mér fagnaðarefni af mörgum ástæðum.<br /> <br /> Í fyrsta lagi er full ástæða til að minna okkur öll á að þróunarsamvinna skilar árangri. Þrátt fyrir ofgnótt neikvæðra frétta frá þróunarríkjum blasir við önnur mynd og jákvæðari þegar sjónum er beint að framförum á mörgum sviðum. Gott dæmi um það eru tölur um lífslíkur íbúa fátækra þjóða sunnan Sahara í Afríku, en þar vinnur Ísland m.a. að þróunarsamvinnu. Frá árinu 2000 hafa lífslíkur í þessum heimshluta aukist um ellefu ár; úr 53 árum í 64 ár. Stóri áhrifavaldurinn þar er hversu mikið hefur dregið úr ungbarnadauða. Í þeim efnum hefur Ísland látið til sín taka, en ungbarnaeftirlit og stuðningur við barnshafandi konur er eitt af áherslusviðunum í Malaví þar sem við höldum uppi tvíhliða þróunarsamvinnu.<br /> <br /> Í öðru lagi er það er jákvætt að frjálsu félagasamtökin í mannúðar- og þróunarstarfi taki höndum saman til að vekja þjóðina til umhugsunar um málefni þróunarríkja og samfélagslegar skyldur okkar sem búum í þróuðum ríkjum. Nýlegar skoðanakannanir hérlendis sýna að vísu afgerandi stuðning landsmanna við þróunarsamvinnu, nú síðast í vor þegar fram kom að tæplega 80 prósent landsmanna telur mikilvægt að Íslandi veiti þróunarríkjum og íbúum þeirra aðstoð. Í sömu könnun kom fram víðtækur stuðningur við frjálsu félagasamtökin, en sex af hverjum tíu Íslendingum styðja starf þeirra með frjálsum framlögum. Utanríkisráðuneytið hefur treyst frjálsum félagasamtökum fyrir sífellt stærri hlut af íslensku þróunarfé og ráðstafaði á síðasta ári liðlega 218 milljónum til tólf félagasamtaka hérlendis. Verkefnin voru tuttugu talsins víðs vegar um heiminn og tengjast öll heimsmarkmiðum Sameinuðu þjóðanna.<br /> <br /> Í þriðja lagi verð ég að hrósa frjálsu félagasamtökunum fyrir málefnið sem þau setja á oddinn að þessu sinni: þátttaka fyrirtækja í þróunarsamvinnu. Um leið og þjóðir heims samþykktu metnaðarfull heimsmarkmið um sjálfbæra þróun undir lok árs 2015, varð ljóst að hefðbundin framlög þjóða til þróunarsamvinnu dygðu skammt til að uppfylla markmiðin fyrir árið 2030. Ég hef því lagt mikla áherslu á að virkja atvinnulífið til samstarfs í þróunarríkjum, meðal annars með því að setja á laggirnar sérstakan samstarfssjóð við atvinnulífið um heimsmarkmiðin, og með því að hvetja frjálsu félagasamtökin til samvinnu við atvinnulífið. Við höfum boðið til sameiginlegra kynningarfunda fyrir fyrirtæki og félagasamtök um samstarfsmöguleika við ráðuneytið og jafnframt boðið fulltrúum félagasamtaka á sérstakar vinnustofur þar sem stefna og sýn ráðuneytisins í málaflokknum er skýrð og fulltrúum samtakanna leiðbeint við útfærslu verkefna og gerð umsókna. Aukið samstarf atvinnulífs, félagasamtaka og stjórnvalda er nauðsynlegt til að raunverulegur árangur náist við að útrýma fátækt og auka velsæld í þróunarríkjum.<br /> <br /> Ég tek því heilshugar undir kynningu átaksins á þessu höfuðmálefni, sem segir að sífellt meiri kröfur séu gerðar til fyrirtækja um samfélagslega ábyrga hegðun. Þessi krafa kemur frá starfsfólki, viðskiptavinum og fjárfestum, en þátttaka í þróunarsamvinnu uppfyllir þessar kröfur og veitir viðskiptavinum og fjárfestum skýran og ábyrgan valkost, eins og bent er á.<br /> <br /> Heimsmarkmið Sameinuðu þjóðanna eru metnaðarfyllstu markmið sem ríki heims hafa sett sér og það er á ábyrgð okkar allra að tryggja að þessi sameiginlega framtíðarsýn verði að veruleika. Vitund er fyrsta skrefið.<br /> <br /> <em>Greinin birtist fyrst í Fréttablaðinu í tilefni átaksins Þróunarsamvinna ber ávöxt sem er á vegum félagasamtaka er starfa í mannúðarstarfi og alþjóðlegri þróunarsamvinnu í samstarfi við utanríkisráðuneyti. Markmið átaksins er að hvetja fyrirtæki, stór sem smá, að taka þátt í þróunarsamvinnu og vinna þannig markvisst að framgangi heimsmarkmiða Sameinuðu þjóðanna um sjálfbæra þróun.</em><br />
29. ágúst 2019Blá ör til hægriRæða ráðherra á ráðstefnunni Brexit - Horft til framtíðar<p><strong>Brexit - Horft til framtíðar<br /> Ráðstefna á vegum Alþjóðamálastofnunar í samstarfi við utanríkisráðuneytið<br /> Þjóðminjasafninu, 29. ágúst 2019</strong></p> <p><strong>Opnunarávarp Guðlaugs Þórs Þórðarsonar utanríkisráðherra</strong></p> <p>I would like to offer a warm welcome to everyone, especially those travelling from abroad. We are very pleased to have such an impressive group of experts on Brexit gathered here in Iceland.<br /> <br /> Iceland is a great place to discuss Brexit. We can say that we are in a neutral middle ground, namely the part of the European Economic Area outside the European Union.<br /> <br /> Through the EEA Agreement, Iceland, Norway and Liechtenstein are able to trade freely on the internal market and participate in other areas of mutually beneficial cooperation. <br /> <br /> This year, the 25th anniversary of the EEA Agreement has given us an opportunity to look back and see how the agreement has worked for us, here in Iceland. While the EEA is not perfect, it strikes a balance for Icelanders who in general do not want to join the EU but at the same time seek close cooperation with the EU member states. <br /> <br /> For Iceland, it has brought opportunities and fostered prosperity without us having to join policies of the EU which do not suit our economy or approach, like the common agricultural and fisheries policies. The EFTA States are also free to make free trade agreements with whom they wish and have actually been very successful in that regard.<br /> <br /> To me, this freedom to trade lies at the heart of Brexit. I have been following UK politics closely for decades and the origins of Brexit lie in their quest for more freedom, not less. We all know that when it came to the Brexit campaign and the referendum, less liberal policies got in the mix and had a great impact on the outcome. But we should keep in mind, where the idea of Brexit comes from.<br /> <br /> I have often been asked if Iceland would welcome the UK into the EEA and I have remained open to exploring that option. While it seems that this option is off the table, the EEA Agreement at least offers some important insights into the debate, given its success and longevity. And I think we can all agree that practical solutions are what we need right now. <br /> <br /> The reality is that, unless something unexpected happens, the UK will leave the EU in two months. Whether there is a deal or a no deal, the future relationship between the UK and the EU will need to be negotiated. And it’s important to get that right. There is a lot at stake not just for the UK and the EU but for other close partners and friends, such as Iceland.<br /> <br /> I’m an optimist at heart. I think it’s possible for the UK and the EU to build a new mutually beneficial partnership. And that, my friends, is why you are here today. To explore possible solutions to this important challenge. <br /> <br /> We are all extremely lucky in that we live in times of peace and prosperity. European countries are close friends and trading partners today and it is easy to forget that wasn’t always the case. The EU has played a significant role in this vital development and I respect and acknowledge that. <br /> <br /> That being said, a membership of the EU is not right for everyone. We should be able to find ways to allow trade, cooperation and friendship to continue without everyone having to fit into the same mould. <br /> <br /> I know it is difficult to detangle a relationship which has been developing along a certain path for almost half a century. This has never been done before. I am convinced it can work especially if negotiators on both sides show creativity, flexibility and good will towards each other. <br /> <br /> People often talk about Brexit as a divorce. That automatically conjures up feelings of animosity and dispute, which can cloud our judgement. At this hour, it is important for all involved to remember the strong bonds that tie us together and the advantages that a good solution would generate. <br /> <br /> Those who know me know that I’m a big football fan so I´d prefer to use a football analogy instead. We have national leagues and we have the World Cup. Brexit must drive us to work together for common solution, much like a national team where rivals become allies. We must be resourceful enough to find a way to play together to achieve optimal results. <br /> <br /> In a time where free trade and liberal values like human rights and democracy is under threat, it is imperative that like-minded states stand united to defend our common values. So, let’s play some beautiful, dynamic and fast-paced football to ensure that we “never walk alone”.</p> <br />
11. júlí 2019Blá ör til hægriRæða utanríkisráðherra á ráðstefnu í Lundúnum um fjölmiðlafrelsi<span>Every little step counts<br /> Safety &amp; Protection of Journalists II: Towards a Shared Solution<br /> Address by H.E. Guðlaugur Þór Þórðarson,<br /> Minister for Foreign Affairs of Iceland<br /> <br /> Ladies and gentlemen, distinguished guests,<br /> <br /> I would like to start off by paying tribute to our three speakers, who have all had to experience something no journalist should have to experience. In fact, no one should have to worry about being kidnapped or imprisoned for simply doing their job. And all of us should be able to enjoy full freedom of expression.<br /> <br /> As a politician, I can confess that I occasionally get frustrated with journalists, but it is a small price to pay for media freedom. Diligent and capable journalists play a key role in our society. Without a free press, a society is neither free nor enlightened. Without a free press, democracy and human rights will suffer.&nbsp; &nbsp; &nbsp;&nbsp;<br /> <br /> Last year, 2018, was the deadliest year on record for journalists. UNESCO confirms that at least 99 journalists were killed, 348 imprisoned and further 60 were held hostage. Freedom of expression is being stifled and independent media faces serious challenges.<br /> <br /> Organizations, such as Reporters Without Borders and the Committee to Protect Journalists, follow these trends closely and the Committee to Protect Journalists has spoken of a global crackdown on press freedom worldwide.&nbsp;<br /> <br /> Also, the latest report from the Council of Europe’s platform for the protection of journalism and safety of journalists confirms worsening environment for media freedom in Europe and continuously growing number of attacks of journalists.<br /> <br /> This precarious situation of journalists and the media in Europe prompted the Foreign Ministers of the OSCE countries to make a Decision on the Safety of Journalists in Milan last December where we condemned attacks on journalists and called for their protection by law. We need to follow upon this decision and our message is loud and clear – the media is an integral part of democratic and pluralistic society, and fundamental for our common security.<br /> <br /> Today’s conference shows that other countries are taking note and stepping up to defend media freedom. Iceland is ready to do its part. Iceland may be small, but our human rights and gender equality record has allowed our voice to be heard.&nbsp;<br /> <br /> We have consistently used appropriate international fora to call on states to improve the status of the press, including in the United Nations Human Rights Council, where we hope to use our current membership for visible progress.&nbsp;<br /> <br /> When states repeatedly defy calls for cooperation and improvement of their human rights situation, we use the tools at the Council’s disposal: resolutions and joint statements supported by a broad coalition of likeminded states.&nbsp;<br /> <br /> This year Iceland has led two initiatives in the Council relevant to our discussion today. One is a Joint Statement led by Iceland in the Council in March on the human rights situation in Saudi Arabia, in which we were eventually joined by 35 other states.<br /> <br /> Until this year, there had been little appetite in the Human Rights Council for any joint or concerted action against Saudi Arabia’s appalling human rights record. But as the world followed the gruesome murder of journalist Jamal Khashoggi, in the Saudi consulate in Istanbul it became apparent that joint action might now be possible.<br /> <br /> Our Joint Statement made headlines around the world simply for the fact that Saudi Arabia is rarely censured in that forum. In our Statement, we condemned in the strongest possible terms the killing of Jamal Khashoggi, highlighting that the circumstances of his death reaffirmed the need to protect journalists and to uphold the right to freedom of expression around the world. We called for a prompt investigation into the killing and stressed that it had to be effective, thorough, independent and impartial, as well as transparent. And that those responsible must be held to account.<br /> <br /> The Saudi Government has not responded in a transparent way but I think it is possible to say that the criticism has at least brought to bear some pressure, along with the subsequent further efforts in the Council in the current session. So, while it is impossible to say with any certainty that this Joint Statement of 36 states will have a long-lasting positive effect on human rights in Saudi Arabia, or indeed on the situation of journalists and freedom of expression, we remain hopeful. Positive change takes time. A drop of water hollows out the stone.<br /> <span style="white-space: pre;"> </span><br /> In the ongoing session of the Human Rights Council we also initiated action that relates to the human rights situation in the Philippines. The original and primary focus of three Joint Statements we have previously led in the Council was on extrajudicial killings in relation to the so-called “war on drugs” in the Philippines. You will be aware that there are allegations that 27.000 people may have been killed since President Duterte came to power.<br /> <br /> Recently, as President Duterte has increasingly threatened journalists and media agencies critical of his Government, the freedom of the media has come into sharper focus. The revocation of the registration of the independent news website Rappler, and the arrest of its founder, Maria Ressa, is just one example of retribution for critical coverage of Duterte´s administration and his “war on drugs”.&nbsp;<br /> <br /> The High Commissioner for Human Rights, Michelle Bachelet, has stated that the arrest on libel charges of Maria Ressa appears to be the latest element in a pattern of intimidation of a media outlet that has fiercely guarded its independence and its right to conduct investigations and criticize the authorities.&nbsp;<br /> <br /> About a month ago, eleven independent experts of the Human Rights Council called for an independent investigation into the situation in the Philippines, referring in part to threats against independent media and journalists, noting that the law had been “weaponized” to undermine press freedom. In short, they argued, the Government is doing all it can to silence critical voices, such as that of the independent press.<br /> <br /> On the basis of all this, and our previous leadership on three Joint Statements to the Human Rights Council, we decided to move ahead and table a resolution in the Council. The text expressed concern about allegations of human rights violations in the Philippines, particularly those involving killings, enforced disappearances, arbitrary arrest and detention, intimidation and persecution of or violence against members of civil society, human rights defenders, indigenous peoples, journalists, lawyers, members of the political opposition, and restrictions on the freedoms of opinion and expression, peaceful assembly and association.&nbsp;<br /> <br /> The resolution, which was voted on in favour this morning in Geneva, called for cooperation by the Government of the Philippines with the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights and the mechanisms of the Human Rights Council, and requested a report from the High Commissioner on the human rights situation in the Philippines.<br /> <br /> Ladies and Gentlemen,<br /> There is no doubt that media freedom and the safety of journalists is under threat. Governments and civil society must work together to reverse this trend. We must defend the freedom of speech, a hallmark of any democratic and free society.<br /> <br /> Governments that value democracy and freedom must lead by example and be ready to use existing international processes to push for progress. Iceland will increasingly prioritise media freedom in its work at the Human Rights Council, UNESCO, OSCE and the Council of Europe, working closely with likeminded states and international human rights organizations.<br /> <br /> The UK and Canada have set the course and with the work of the great journalists in the room, I am hopeful that things will change.<br /> <br /> Thank you.<br /> </span> <div>&nbsp;</div>
24. júní 2019Blá ör til hægriRéttindi hinsegin fólks eru mannréttindi<p><span>Það var ánægjulegt að sjá í niðurstöðum könnunar á viðhorfi fólks til utanríkisþjónustunnar hversu margir telja jákvætt og mikilvægt að Ísland hafi tekið sæti í mannréttindaráði Sameinuðu þjóðanna. Ekki síður er jákvætt að sjá hversu margir telja að Ísland geti með sinni málafylgju á þeim vettvangi haft raunveruleg áhrif.&nbsp;<br /> &nbsp;<br /> Það er einmitt mitt mat einnig og lá til grundvallar þeirri ákvörðun á sínum tíma að Ísland byðist til að taka sæti í ráðinu þegar sæti Bandaríkjanna þar losnaði með skömmum fyrirvara fyrir rúmu ári síðan.<br /> &nbsp;<br /> Nú fer í hönd 41. fundarlota mannréttindaráðsins í Genf, sú þriðja sem Ísland tekur þátt í sem aðildarríki þess. Jafnréttismál verða í forgrunni að þessu sinni, þ.m.t. réttindi hinsegin fólks. Fulltrúar Íslands munu þar láta til sín taka með ýmsum hætti, nú sem áður, og erum við stolt af því að geta þannig lagt lóð á vogarskálarnar. Mannréttindi eru hornsteinn utanríkisstefnunnar og það hefur aldrei verið mikilvægara en nú að standa vörð um þau.&nbsp;<br /> &nbsp;<br /> Réttindi hinsegin fólks eru sérstakt áherslumál Íslands. Um það vitnar til dæmis samþykkt Alþingis í liðinni viku á framsækinni löggjöf um kynrænt sjálfræði en með henni skipar Íslands sér í fremstu röð á alþjóðavísu hvað varðar réttindi hinsegin fólks.&nbsp;<br /> &nbsp;<br /> Á alþjóðavettvangi, og ekki síst í mannréttindaráðinu, höfum við einnig lagt mikla áherslu á að tala fyrir auknum réttindum hinsegin fólks. Hið sama á við um þróunarsamvinnu en í nýrri skýrslu utanríkisráðuneytisins hefur verið mörkuð sú stefna að allt starf Íslands í þróunarsamvinnu sé mannréttindamiðað. Ísland fylgist því sérstaklega með stöðu mála hvað varðar réttindi hinsegin fólks í samstarfsríkjum og áhersluríkjum í þróunarsamvinnu.<br /> &nbsp;<br /> Því miður er víða pottur brotinn. Í einu af hverjum þremur ríkjum heims teljast hinsegin sambönd enn glæpur samkvæmt lögum. Víða í Afríku og í Mið-Austurlöndum er ástandið afar slæmt að þessu leyti. Við munum ekki skirrast við að benda á hvar skórinn kreppir. Hryllingssögur af ofsóknum á hinsegin fólki á Gaza-ströndinni, í Úganda eða í Tsjetsjeníu láta engan ósnortinn. Það er skylda okkar að halda því á lofti að mannréttindi eru algild, eiga alltaf við og um alla.&nbsp;<br /> &nbsp;<br /> Óhætt er að fullyrða að við höfum látið verkin tala í mannréttindaráðinu að þessu leyti. Eftir því var til dæmis tekið í reglubundinni allsherjarúttekt á stöðu mannréttindamála í fjórtán aðildarríkjum SÞ í maí að Ísland bar þar upp fleiri tilmæli er vörðuðu LGBTI-réttindi en nokkurt annað ríki. Raunar námu tilmæli Íslands þar alls tíu prósentum þeirra tilmæla sem fram komu um réttindi hinsegin fólks.<br /> &nbsp;<br /> Í fundarlotu mannréttindaráðsins sem nú fer í hönd liggur fyrir skýrsla frá sérstökum fulltrúa ráðsins um réttindi hinsegin fólks. Fyrir ráðinu liggur enn fremur ályktunartillaga um framlengingu starfsumboðs hans, en það þótti tíðindum sæta þegar embættið var sett á með ályktun frá mannréttindaráðinu árið 2016. Líklegt er talið að mjótt verði á munum þegar kemur að því að greiða atkvæði um að framlengja umboð skýrslugjafans og það segir því miður sína sögu. Enn er mikið verk að vinna.&nbsp;<br /> &nbsp;<br /> Einmitt þess vegna hef ég nú ákveðið að verja þrettán milljónum króna sérstaklega til UN Free &amp; Equal, sérstaks verkefnis sem skrifstofa mannréttindafulltrúa Sameinuðu þjóðanna (OHCHR) heldur utan um til að vinna að útbreiðslu réttinda hinsegin fólks hvarvetna í heiminum. Með fjárframlaginu og áframhaldandi áherslu á réttindi hinsegin fólks, bæði í mannréttindaráðinu sem og í þróunarsamvinnu, leggjum við okkar af mörkum til að bæta hag hinsegin fólks og auka virðingu fyrir réttindum þess.&nbsp;<br /> &nbsp;<br /> Í þessum efnum sem öðrum skiptir öllu að tala skýrt og skorinort og án nokkurs undansláttar. Dropinn holar á endanum steininn. Það vitum við.</span></p> <p><span><em>Greinin birtist í Fréttablaðinu 24. júní 2019</em></span></p> <div>&nbsp;</div>
19. júní 2019Blá ör til hægriRæða á fundi í Reykjavík með sendiherrum ESB-ríkja<p><span>FUNDUR MEÐ SENDIHERRUM ESB-RÍKJA Á ÍSLANDI<br /> 19. JÚNÍ 2019<br /> <br /> ÁVARP UTANRÍKISRÁÐHERRA<br /> <br /> Distinguished guests, ladies and gentlemen!<br /> <br /> First of all, let me thank you very much for participating in our celebration on the 75th anniversary of Iceland’s independence.<br /> <br /> Last year we celebrated a century of full sovereignty. As a free, sovereign and an independent nation, we have made the most of our journey so far.&nbsp;One hundred years ago Iceland was one of the poorest nations in western Europe. Now we are one of wealthiest with one of the highest living standards in the world.</span></p> <p><span>Yes, we are blessed with natural resources. But they have always been there. So, the explanation for this turnaround lies elsewhere.<br /> When we took matters into our own hands just over a century ago and fully 75 years ago, we not only gained the freedom of ruling our own matters, we gained to freedom to trade and interact with other nations based on our interests.<br /> Iceland is in fact a text-book example of the benefits of free trade and international cooperation. If we didn’t have access to other markets and if our markets were not open to others, we would still be poor. We would not be hungry, and we would not be cold, but we would be poor.</span></p> <p><span>We have used our independence to cooperate with other nations. We have not isolated our selves from the world, quite the contrary.&nbsp;</span></p> <p><span>In 1949 we became founding members of NATO and in 1970 we joined the European Free Trade Association, EFTA. And a quarter of century ago, in 1994, we joined the European Economic Area when the EEA Agreement came into force.</span></p> <p><span>It was indeed very appropriate, on a year that marked the 50th anniversary of our independence, when we had been a sovereign nation for 75 years, that we were able to use our status as a state among states to enter into such an agreement and to establish such a beneficial partnership with other nations.</span></p> <p><span>The EEA Agreement is Iceland´s most far-reaching and important economic agreement. It creates a firm basis for our participation in the internal market of the EU.</span></p> <p><span>It provides access to a market of more than 500 million people. It ensures a level playing field for our businesses on the internal market and provides more choices and protection for our consumers. Furthermore, it ensures mobility for individuals; students, workers and pensioners, and creates a framework for cooperation in the fields of science, research and education.</span></p> <p><span>Iceland has benefitted enormously from the EEA Agreement. It has been a key element in ensuring a substantial gradual increase in foreign trade and GDP over the last 25 years, resulting in higher living standards for Icelanders.</span></p> <p>But still, the EEA Agreement has powerful enemies here in Iceland.</p> <p><span>In recent years political powers in Iceland have systematically talked down the importance and the benefits of the EEA Agreement. It has been asserted repeatedly that we have to adopt 80-90% of all the EU legislation without having any influence on the content. This is far from the truth. The fact is that we have adopted less then 15% of EU legislation in the past 25 years. And, although math was never my strongest skill in school, I think we can agree that 15% is considerably less than 90%, and some might say on the other end of the scale.<br /> It has also been argued that we might as well join the EU since we are a part of almost every chapter. This is also false. Most importantly we are not subject to the common fisheries policy, which even in this crowd doesn’t have many supporters.&nbsp;</span></p> <p><span>Apart from that we are not subject to policy on agriculture, tax issues, currency cooperation, custom union and foreign policy, to name a few important areas. The fact of the matter is that out of 34 chapter of the EU legislation, 10 chapters are fully integrated in the EEA Agreement and 13 chapters are 100% outside.</span></p> <p><span>But why all the wrong assertions and why is the EEA Agreement wrongly accused?<br /> Yes, because it is a hindrance. It is a hindrance to those in Iceland who seek full membership of the EU. They know that while we can rely on the EEA Agreement the question of joining the EU is far of the horizon.<br /> </span></p> <p><span>And in recent months these powers have gained support from a surprising source. Association that used to fight for non-EU membership has now shifted its focus to EEA Agreement and is fighting for the termination of the agreement. So, the very anti-EU powers and the very pro-EU powers have joined forces against the EEA Agreement.<br /> Politics really are art of the possible, aren’t they?</span></p> <p><span>In this context I would like to point out that the coalition parties in the government are the only political parties that are pure EEA supporters. None of the coalition parties wants to join the EU and all of the support the EEA Agreement. All other parties in Iceland either seek full EEA membership or are against the EEA Agreement.</span></p> <p><span>It is therefore not surprising that this government has given the good functioning of the EEA Agreement high priority. We have invested more resources and streamlined processes; improved parliamentary procedures and involvement from stakeholders; increased presence in Brussels from line Ministries to better shape and influence EEA law.</span></p> <p><span>And we have made some important achievements; 1) big improvements in the EFTA Scoreboard, 2) backlog reduction and 3) more pro-active engagement on key issues at an earlier stage in the process.<br /> <br /> We have also defined four key challenges ahead:<br /> </span></p> <p><span>1) Importance of respecting the two-pillar system.</span>While there is no doubt that the EEA Agreement has served us well, there is no denying that it poses constitutional challenges for us. </p> <p>Powers are increasingly being delegated from the EU Member States to EU’s regulatory agencies and bodies to issue decisions which are binding for the EU States and their agencies and economic operators.&nbsp;</p> <p><span>This is putting strain on a basic feature of the EEA Agreement, the two-pillar structure, which embodies the idea of an independent EU pillar and an independent EFTA pillar, the EU bodies being mirrored in the EFTA pillar.&nbsp;</span></p> <p><span>Fortunately, we have, up to this point, been successful in finding solutions that work, although not all of them have been in conformity with the two-pillar system. However, I don't think I exaggerate when I say that it has become more and more difficult in some cases to find acceptable solutions when national powers are being delegated to supranational entities.<br /> <br /> 2) The second challenge is to address the wide discrepancy in the quality and consistency of implementation of EEA legislation.&nbsp;</span></p> <p><span></span>Iceland is sometimes criticized for being late to agree to incorporate EU legislation into the EEA agreement or for late implementation of EEA legislation. In this respect it should be noted that Iceland´s implementation deficit has decreased dramatically over the past year. It´s currently below 1% which is close to the EU average.&nbsp;</p> <p><span>Unlike in the EU Member States where the EU´s regulations are directly applicable, Iceland with its small administration, needs to make EU regulations part of its internal legal order by way of national implementing measures.</span></p> <p><span>Moreover, Icelandic authorities put great emphasis on the quality of implementation and not only the speed of transposition.</span></p> <p><span>This is not always the case for all Member States of the Internal Market. When the EU Member States has been assessed, certain EU Member States have sometimes been described as ”A world of dead letters”.&nbsp;</span></p> <p><span>The quality of implementation and enforcement is no less important than speed. I believe it is important to keep this in mind when comparisons are made between our countries regarding the implementation of EEA legislation.<br /> <br /> 3) The third challenge is to improve market access</span></p> <p><span>We cannot talk about the EEA Agreement as a gold standard of deep economic integration while market access for one of our key industries – fisheries - remains far below what the EU offers to third countries.&nbsp;</span></p> <p><span>This type of discrimination risks undermining support for our broader cooperation and my government has engaged actively with the EU to find a solution.&nbsp;&nbsp;</span></p> <p><span>I have taken the matter up in meetings with the EU and requested discussions on an improved market access for fisheries products, in line with what the EU now offers in its more recent FTAs with third countries.</span></p> <p><span>4) The last but certainly not least of the four challenges we have defined is to safeguard the EEA Agreement, both domestically and by an outreach.</span></p> <p><span></span>We need to guard against complacency and make sure that the EEA is not taken for granted.</p> <p><span>We need to prioritize key issues and defend our interests in Brussels to ensure the Agreement continues to work for the benefit of our people.&nbsp;&nbsp;</span></p> <p><span>We need to ensure full and fact-based debates on key sensitive EEA issues, including 3rd energy package, DGSIII, meat issue, etc.&nbsp;</span></p> <p><span>As regards the Deposit Guarantee Scheme III in particular, we must be absolutely certain that DGSIII does not impose any state liability on the treasury and, until we are, the Directive cannot be incorporated into the EEA Agreement.<br /> <br /> Dear friends.<br /> </span></p> <p><span>Iceland and the EU enjoy a good relationship. The cornerstone of our close and dynamic relationship is of course the EEA – along with our Schengen cooperation – but we also cooperate on a host of other areas. This includes trade and economic development; security and defence cooperation; climate change; the arctic and human rights.</span></p> <p><span>The government wants to engage closely with the new Commission and Parliament on the political priorities in the next five years – including on key issues like the digital economy and climate change.</span></p> <p><span>We would also want to follow-through on Iceland’s Chairmanship priorities, already described.</span></p> <p><span>And of course, we offer and expect full cooperation with the EU on the incredibly important issue of Brexit, how it is resolved to benefit of all.<br /> <br /> Finally, dear friends, ladies and gentlemen.</span></p> <p><span>The EEA-Agreement has served us well and will continue to do so – if we are able to defend it. When things have been going well for a long time, complacency is inevitable. And you are never closer to loosing something than from the moment you take it for granted.</span></p> <p><span>Third of the Icelandic population are born after we joined the EEA and thousands more do not have any recollection of the society before the agreement.</span></p> <p><span>False news and populist propaganda are the main threats to our continued partnership. We must all step up to the task of defending this important and mutually beneficial cooperation.<br /> </span></p> <div>&nbsp;</div>
11. júní 2019Blá ör til hægriBirtir til<p><span>Brátt verða fjögur ár liðin frá því að stjórnvöld í Rússlandi settu innflutningsbann á íslenska matvöru út af þátttöku í afmörkuðum þvingunaraðgerðum vegna Úkraínudeilunnar og brota á alþjóðalögum sem skipta okkur miklu. Bannið hafði í för með sér mikinn samdrátt á útflutningi til Rússlands enda mun umfangsmeira en aðgerðirnar sem Ísland tekur þátt í.<br /> <br /> Stundum er sagt að þegar einar dyr lokist opnist aðrar. Þannig hafa ný markaðstækifæri opnast í Rússlandi, ekki síst vegna sívaxandi fjárfestinga Rússa í landbúnaði og sjávarútvegi – meðal annars vegna þess að lokað var fyrir innflutning á vestrænum matvælum!<br /> <br /> Það er ánægjulegt að tækifærin eru á sviði nýsköpunar og hátækni, atvinnuvega sem íslensk stjórnvöld leggja áherslu á að byggja upp til framtíðar. Íslensk þekkingarfyrirtæki sem framleiða búnað fyrir matvælavinnslu og fiskveiðar hasla sér nú völl í Rússlandi. Nú þegar hafa nokkur gert eða eru við það að ganga frá milljarðasamningum um sölu á tækni og búnaði til nýrra skipa eða vinnslu í landi.<br /> <br /> Tækifæri eru líka á sviði landbúnaðar. Þótt íslensk mjólk komi reyndar hvergi nærri hófu íslenskir aðilar nýverið í gegnum samstarfssamning við rússnesk mjólkurbú skyrframleiðslu eftir íslenskri uppskrift.<br /> <br /> Til marks um gagnkvæman áhuga á viðskiptum þjóðanna má svo nefna að nýverið fóru annars vegar fram stofnfundur Rússnesks-íslensks viðskiptaráðs og hins vegar fundur Íslandsstofu með rússneskum og íslenskum ferðaþjónustufyrirtækjum. Rússneskt flugfélag býður nú upp á beint flug á milli landanna yfir sumarmánuðina.<br /> <br /> Síðast en ekki síst skiptir miklu að þótt íslensk og rússnesk stjórnvöld greini á um ýmislegt fara samskiptin batnandi. Forsetar landanna hittust fyrr á árinu og í maí, þegar Ísland tók við formennsku í Norðurskautsráðinu, átti ég fund með utanríkisráðherra Rússlands, þar sem gott samstarf á vettvangi norðurslóða var undirstrikað.<br /> <br /> Í dag – á þjóðhátíðardegi Rússlands – er því gott að muna að þrátt fyrir allt eiga Rússland og Ísland langa sögu góðra samskipta á mörgum sviðum, ekki síst milliríkjaviðskipta. Að þessu sambandi vil ég áfram hlúa.</span></p> <p><em>Greinin birtist í Fréttablaðinu 11. júní 2019</em></p>
23. maí 2019Blá ör til hægriRæða utanríkisráðherra í Wilson's Center Polar Institute í Washington<p><span>Ræða ráðherra í Wilson Center<br /> Washington DC, 23. May 2019<br /> Iceland and the Arctic: Iceland´s Chairmanship in the Arctic Council 2019-2021<br /> Mr. Guðlaugur Þór Þórðarson,<br /> Minister for Foreign Affairs of Iceland<br /> <br /> Excellencies, ladies and gentlemen,<br /> It is a great pleasure to be with you here today in the beautiful city of Washington, at this distinguished institution, and to get the opportunity to share with you our vision for the future of the Arctic region as well as some insights into Iceland’s priorities during our two-year chairmanship of the Arctic Council.&nbsp;<br /> <br /> But I want to begin by mentioning your important work here at the Wilson Center. The Center’s approach on its subject matters, offering high-quality views on issues of real international importance, has seldom been as relevant as in today’s increasingly complex world. We need inter-disciplinary approaches to be able to fully understand the challenges we face and to seize the opportunities that rapid changes in our region bring about.<br /> <br /> And we are fortunate that Mr. Sfraga is both the Head of the Wilson Center’s Global Risk and Resilience Programme and the Director of the Center’s Polar Institute, because I know that sustainable development is at the heart of the work of both the GRRP and the Polar Institute.</span></p> <p><span>This is important. Truly. Because sustainable development may in fact be the single most important element to reduce tensions and alleviate risks of escalation in the Arctic region. I will come back to that later.</span></p> <p><span>Iceland assumed the role of Chair of the Arctic Council just two weeks ago from our Finnish partners, who successfully concluded their term at a Ministerial meeting in Rovaniemi, Finland.&nbsp;</span></p> <p><span>Iceland is taking over the chairmanship at a crucial time for the Arctic regions. With the prospects of new oceans and coastlines opening up, key global actors are focusing their attention to the region. We see this in both international and regional politics, in academia and business. And this has, indeed, created a new reality for all of us. But while the interests at stake are high, we must all maintain a cool head and keep our feet firmly on the ground.&nbsp;<br /> First, let’s look at some facts. Temperatures in the Arctic are rising at more than twice the average global rate and Arctic warming trends are expected to continue towards the mid-century. According to scientists, trends after 2050 will depend on today’s mitigating actions.&nbsp;<br /> In Iceland, we feel and see the effects of this with changes in the migration and availability of fish stocks in our waters and with retreating glaciers around the country. Moreover, we know that melting sea ice and ocean acidification put the entire marine ecosystems at risk. Adaptation to these changes will be challenging, not only for most communities in the North but globally, making regional and international co-operation vital. And we need deliberate responses. Responses guided by the fundamental principle of sustainable development and decisions based on scientific research and knowledge.&nbsp;<br /> <br /> Ladies and gentlemen,&nbsp;<br /> Before I delve into the Arctic Council Chairmanship Programme, I would like to offer some reflections and an Icelandic perspective on the changed geostrategic situation and challenges facing us in the High North.&nbsp;<br /> <br /> First, all actors in the Arctic are dependent on close and peaceful cooperation that stretches across borders and boundaries. Beyond the national jurisdictions of the Arctic Council Member States the Arctic region is, in fact, governed in a co-operative manner primarily through the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS). Peaceful co-operation in the Arctic should continue to be at the forefront as we better realize the ever-growing opportunities that lie in the region. But we also need to be aware of the threats and challenges that face us in the Arctic and the effects they could have both locally and globally.&nbsp;</span></p> <p><span>Geography presents us with strategic facts. Iceland is located centrally in the North-Atlantic with Greenland to the West and the Faroe Islands, the UK and Norway to the East. The Arctic Circle touches Iceland´s northern tip and straight lines can be drawn through the Atlantic respectively to the North and South Poles. This geostrategic location has largely determined Iceland´s security policy since the mid-20th Century.</span></p> <p><span>It was then, with the development of naval technology, particularly submarines, and later aviation, including long-range aircraft, that Iceland became a strategic hub and the trans-Atlantic link was born. During the Cold War, secure communications between North America and Europe became fundamental to the credibility and viability of NATO.&nbsp;</span></p> <p><span>In 2006 the US forces withdrew from Iceland and, virtually on the same day, Russia chose to resume its strategic bomber flights into the Icelandic airspace. In recent years this has called for enhanced forward presence in Europe, exercises and capability developments with increased defence budgets. Sea-lines of communication and strategic air corridors across the Atlantic are also getting more attention within the Alliance. Most recently, this also extends to securing underwater cables, which provide essential electronic communications.</span></p> <p><span>Ladies and gentlemen,<br /> How does this affect Iceland? As the only founding member of NATO without armed national forces, Iceland relies on Article 5 and a bilateral Defence Agreement with the US. Nonetheless, we contribute in many different ways to our national and common defence within the Alliance, through civilian capabilities, personnel and experience, and have our own perspective on security developments in our region in a broad sense. This is reflected in our National Security Policy, which enjoys cross-party support and sets the framework for the security and defence policy of our broadly-based coalition Government.</span></p> <p><span>Successive Icelandic governments have expressed their hope that the Arctic would not be militarized beyond the levels seen following the end of the Cold War - a position that is manifested in our Arctic Policy from 2011, which was also adopted through a consensus across the political spectrum. As others, we recognize Russia’s right to safeguard their legitimate security interests in the region with credible defence capabilities. However, the scope, speed and apparent ambition of the Russian military build-up in the Arctic does raise questions.</span></p> <p><span>In our view, military build-up in the High North needs to be avoided. This point cannot be overstated. Reaching common understandings and solutions, while respecting international laws that govern the region and maintaining the stability that has, so far, characterized the region, is of interest and benefit to us all.</span></p> <p><span>Increased attention and activities of non-Arctic states in the region have also drawn attention. Asian states have shown keen interest in the work of the Arctic Council with China, India, Japan, South-Korea and Singapore all joining the Observers group of the Arctic Council in 2013.&nbsp;&nbsp;</span></p> <p><span>This increased interest is moreover reflected in policy making in states such as China and in organizations such as the European Union, mirroring a substantial change in international priorities from what they were just 15 years ago.&nbsp;</span></p> <p><span>A warming climate and the resulting opening up of sea routes, easier access to natural resources and possible security threats resulting from increased traffic in the area pose new challenges and make it increasingly important to ensure that the Arctic remains a low-tension area. This is best done through multilateral collaboration and dialogue. It is not least for this reason that the Arctic Council will have an increasingly important role to play in years and decades to come.</span></p> <p><span>This new reality facing us in the Arctic is reflected in the Arctic Council’s developing international role as the central forum for co-operation in the region. While the Arctic Council does not address military security, the conflictual elements that may result from the opening-up of the Arctic make the Council’s contribution to sustainable development in the region increasingly relevant.&nbsp;</span></p> <p><span>The Arctic Council is an important venue for dialogue and peaceful co-operation in the Arctic region. Its clear mandate and regional focus on sustainable development and knowledge-building has allowed it to continue its work, irrespective of global political tensions. This is not least because of the emphasis put on the quality of the work of the Council and its subsidiary bodies.</span></p> <p><span>In this respect I truly believe that an active dialogue, based on best available scientific research and knowledge, conducted through dynamic collaboration between our countries and organizations, is the best way forward for a constructive development of the Arctic Council. Iceland will continue to emphasise this during our Chairmanship in the Arctic Council, and we welcome the US increased interest in the region.</span></p> <p><span>Ladies and gentlemen,<br /> <br /> The Arctic Council’s focus on sustainable development, and the scientific and policy work that has been carried out by its subsidiary bodies, has yielded important discussions and results on a variety of issues. The Arctic Council has, for instance, increased and broadened our understanding of the Arctic ecosystem, and enabled us to make informed decisions on how we approach the region’s environment and resources. This has also proven relevant to states outside the Arctic, which may explain growing interest in obtaining observer status in recent years.</span></p> <p><span>The Arctic Council is running numerous ambitious projects, which will continue during our Chairmanship. In our priorities we will highlight certain aspects of the Council’s already ambitious agenda as well as introducing new fields of co-operation through specific projects.&nbsp;<br /> As I alluded to earlier, sustainable development will be the guiding light in our Chairmanship program and our heading: Together Towards a Sustainable Arctic, emphasises the need for harmonized international efforts. Moreover, we highlight the need for a holistic approach to sustainable development, addressing equally each of its three pillars - the environment, the economy as well as the social aspect. In our Chairmanship program we have highlighted four main priority areas.&nbsp;</span></p> <p><span>First, and not entirely surprisingly, the Arctic marine environment. The Oceans will figure at the heart of our program. The largest part of the Arctic region is covered by ocean, and the welfare of a large part of the population in the Arctic is based on the sustainable utilization of marine resources. The Arctic Council ‘s subsidiary bodies have carried out many important ocean-related projects and Iceland will focus on further development of projects in that field.&nbsp;<br /> Iceland is particularly interested in strengthening Arctic Council co-operation on mitigating plastic pollution of the oceans and is planning an international scientific conference on the topic in Reykjavík Iceland in April 2020.&nbsp;</span></p> <p><span>Iceland also wants to introduce a new project focusing on innovation and efficient utilization of marine biological resources, or the so-called Blue Bio-Economy. Experience has shown that through innovation and biotechnological solutions it is possible to increase significantly the utilization level of biomass taken out of the ocean. Through successful application of the method it provides for positive outcomes for the environment, it strengthens the economy and has positive effect in the communities.</span></p> <p><span>Our second priority concerns climate and green energy solutions. We will maintain an emphasis on meteorological co-operation. In that respect I would like to mention explicitly a project on mapping glaciers and providing more accurate information on the dramatic glacial reduction being witnessed in our part of the world.&nbsp;</span></p> <p><span>The impending shift in energy sources from fossil fuels to renewable energy will be important, both for reducing greenhouse gas emissions and for improving air quality in Arctic communities. The only answer is to cut emissions immediately and I want to commend the US on their demonstrated achievements in reducing black carbon emissions.&nbsp;<br /> It is a challenge to provide green solutions for energy production in remote communities in the Arctic, but this should be a high priority. Iceland will emphasize continuing to seek practical green energy solutions - focusing specifically on small communities in the Arctic.</span></p> <p><span>The Arctic has historically been bountiful in renewable energy. In Iceland, we speak from first-hand experience as we have been fortunate enough to be able to harvest geothermal and hydropower for decades. There are mainly three viable alternatives in the Arctic. Firstly, hydropower, which constitutes over 70% of Iceland’s stationary resources. Second, geothermal power, found in various parts of the Arctic and which provides for all space-heating in Iceland and, finally, wind power. Moreover, there is huge potential in cutting emissions by using renewable energy on ships. Technology related to alternative fuels for ships is already being developed in Iceland and Icelandic fishing and shipping companies are making progressive changes in their operation.</span></p> <p><span>Our third main priority will be to support Arctic societies in building prosperous and sustainable communities. A more accessible Arctic will stimulate economic activities, both with regards to marine transport and tourism. Growing marine traffic in the Arctic will require better infrastructure to ensure acceptable safety standards. The polar code for Arctic shipping is in place but safety in navigation is hampered in many areas due to lack of reliable charts and other aids. Lack of telecommunications is also of great concern for large areas in the Arctic. Improvements in telecommunications improve both safety at sea, including search and rescue activities, and living conditions in Arctic communities that have very limited telecommunication services.&nbsp;</span></p> <p><span>Most communities in the Arctic will face difficult choices when adapting to the environmental changes, not least small communities and the indigenous people. The Arctic Council has already undertaken some expert work on possible changes that might call for adaptation measures and we will continue co-operation on matters like gender equality, connectivity and adaptation and resilience. Such analysis is highly valuable for policy makers and the Council will do even more to collect best practices that communities could benefit from.&nbsp;</span></p> <p><span>Last but not least, Iceland will continue to work for a stronger Arctic Council, giving due attention to its inner workings and maintaining close consultations between Member States and the Permanent Participants as well as continuing to use innovative ways to enhance engagement with the Arctic Council Observers.</span></p> <p><span>We will also focus on forming new partnerships. The Arctic Economic Council will celebrate its five years anniversary during Iceland’s Chairmanship, and we plan to seize the opportunity to enhance the collaboration between the two Councils. Moreover, we aim at making the most of the fact that Iceland will also be chairing the Arctic Coast Guard Forum, an extremely important actor when debating security, search and rescue in an increasingly open and busy Arctic waters.&nbsp;<br /> </span></p> <p><span>Ladies and gentlemen,<br /> </span></p> <p><span>Looking ahead, trying to envisage what the future could hold in store for us, we know that scientific research indicates that we can expect more drastic changes to the Arctic environment in the next two decades than in the past hundred years. Even a fully implemented Paris Agreement is not expected to curb global warming until after the middle of the 21st Century. Arctic ice will therefore continue to melt and ice-free marine areas will grow during the summer months.&nbsp;</span></p> <p><span>In order to ensure continued stability in the Arctic a race for resources must be avoided. Not only because of the obvious mutual benefits of sustainable use of natural resources, affecting both future economic interests and social development in the region, but also because it could threaten stability and peace in the Arctic and the North Atlantic. It continues to be paramount that international law and norms prevail. All those present in the region, Arctic states as well as others, should be held to a high standard and provocation avoided.</span></p> <p><span>Maintaining a healthy, sustainable and prosperous Arctic region is of vital, international importance. The potential is great but so are the challenges. Developments in the Arctic region offer us, the Arctic states, an opportunity to demonstrate how responsible global actors can and should interact, following international principles and norms enshrined in international treaties, laws and agreements.&nbsp;</span></p> <p><span>If we are fortunate enough to keep the Arctic cool – and I am an optimist and I know that we are – we will remain, for decades and centuries to come, truly, on top of the world.&nbsp;</span></p> <p><span><br /> Thank you.<br /> </span></p>
23. maí 2019Blá ör til hægriOpnunarávarp á málþingi Íslensk Ameríska viðskiptaráðsins Doing Business in the Arctic<p><span>Ambassador Geir H. Haarde,&nbsp;<br /> Consul General and Trade Commissioner for North America Hlynur Guðjónsson,&nbsp;<br /> Conference Chair and Chairman of the Board of the Icelandic American Chamber of Commerce Jón Sigurðsson,&nbsp;<br /> Director of the Arctic Economic Council Anu Fredrikson,&nbsp;<br /> Director of the Polar Institute of the Wilson Center Mike Sfraga and&nbsp; excellencies, ladies and gentlemen,<br /> <br /> It is a pleasure to be with you here today to discuss these two interesting topics - the Arctic and Doing business. And what better environment to do that - surrounded by these beautiful and inspirational pieces of art that Rax has produced.<br /> <br /> His work provides us with a necessary perspective and a feeling of what is at stake – also from new points of view. It shows us a new reality and there is an energy about them - they are all incredibly beautiful, some of them are even a little scary, exciting, and some show us that, sometimes, there is more than meets the eye.&nbsp;<br /> <br /> This is exactly what we need when we debate opportunities in the Arctic.&nbsp; Opportunities that, like Rax’s pieces, would not be on the table if it were not for the often-times scary developments taking place in the Arctic due to climate change and melting sea ice.<br /> <br /> Increased co-operation between the Arctic states is gradually leading to new business opportunities and economic activities.&nbsp;This co-operation is stimulating research and development in various fields that helps us to utilise the resources of the Arctic in a sustainable way.<br /> <br /> Solid infrastructure, including roads, ports and airports, is key. This is something that Icelandic companies and industries are aware of, as improved connections have contributed to increased growth in our country. Better connections in the region will increase the service level for both businesses and the people of the Arctic.&nbsp;<br /> <br /> And we need creativity - an active interplay between the public and private sector, and innovation to tackle the challenges ahead and ensure resilience and prosperity in the region. An example of that are fibre optic cables that allow us to connect within the region and are of significant importance.&nbsp;<br /> <br /> This is also why I have emphasized the importance of developing new Arctic partnerships and networks, mirrored for instance in our strong emphasis on enhancing the collaboration between the Arctic Economic Council, where Mr. Heidar Gudjonsson is now Chairman, and the Arctic Council. I will come back to this later.&nbsp;<br /> <br /> Moreover, we will make the most of the fact that Iceland will also be chairing the Arctic Coast Guard Forum, an extremely important actor when debating security and search and rescue in an increasingly open and busy Arctic waters.&nbsp;<br /> <br /> Open and busy Arctic waters – who would have believed that this would be our reality in 2019. In Iceland we have seen a dramatic increase in port calls by cruise liners bringing ever growing numbers of international tourists to enjoy the Arctic.&nbsp;<br /> </span></p> <p><span>Recently we witnessed, off the coast of Norway, the possible challenges such ships can pose in terms of search and rescue in the Arctic, where we often have limited access to resources.<br /> Now, a little perspective.&nbsp;<br /> <br /> The temperatures in the Arctic are rising at more than twice the average global rate and Arctic warming trends are expected to continue towards the mid-century.&nbsp;<br /> According to scientists, trends after 2050 will depend on today’s mitigating actions. As a fishing nation, Icelanders and Icelandic fisheries companies feel the effects of these developments with changes in the migration and availability of fish stocks in our waters.&nbsp;<br /> <br /> Furthermore, the melting of sea ice and ocean acidification put the entire marine ecosystems at risk. Adaptation to these changes will be challenging for most communities in the North in the years and decades to come.&nbsp;<br /> This makes multilateral and inter-sectoral cooperation vital, not only for the future of the Arctic but also in the global interest.&nbsp;<br /> <br /> And that is also a new reality. The effects of changing climate in the Arctic reach far beyond the Arctic region. Repercussions will be felt around the world, for example through rising sea levels.&nbsp;<br /> <br /> Since this is a global challenge, it calls for a global response in reducing emissions worldwide. And we need private engagement to be able to develop the best solutions for replacing fossil fuel with renewable energy resources.&nbsp;<br /> <br /> Ladies and gentlemen,<br /> In my view, the ultimate goal for the future of the Arctic must be economic prosperity and social well-being in a healthy environment. For all these reasons Arctic affairs are, and will remain, a top priority in Iceland’s foreign policy.&nbsp;<br /> <br /> We have emphasized the importance of striking the right balance between environmental protection, economic growth and social development.&nbsp;<br /> This means adapting to the negative environmental impact but also identifying and making responsible use of the possibilities that these changes may entail.&nbsp;<br /> And the right of the inhabitants of the Arctic to build prosperous yet sustainable communities must be respected.&nbsp;<br /> <br /> The four million people living and working in the Arctic need to see economic development for future generations - creating prosperity while safeguarding what is the largest pristine wilderness in the world.&nbsp;<br /> This is important, not least to the indigenous peoples that inhabit the region and who possess both culture and knowledge of great value. And this is why sustainable development will be the guiding principle during our chairmanship of the Arctic Council.&nbsp;<br /> <br /> The overarching theme of the Icelandic Chairmanship is Together towards a Sustainable Arctic and we will continue to emphasise the importance of addressing equally and linking together each of the three pillars of sustainability; the environment, society and the&nbsp;</span>economy.&nbsp;</p> <p><span>In our program we have highlighted four main priority areas:<br /> <br /> First, and not entirely surprisingly, the Arctic marine environment. Our second priority concerns climate and green energy solutions.&nbsp;Our third main priority will be to support Arctic societies in building prosperous and sustainable communities. And finally, Iceland will continue to work for a stronger Arctic Council. These priorities are naturally inter-related and support each other.&nbsp;<br /> <br /> The Oceans will figure at the heart of our program.&nbsp;We know that the largest part of the Arctic region is covered by ocean, and the welfare of a large part of the population in the Arctic is based on the sustainable use of marine resources. Iceland will, therefore, focus on continuing and further developing ocean-related projects already under way.&nbsp;<br /> <br /> We are also particularly interested in strengthening Arctic Council co-operation on mitigating plastic pollution in the oceans, which is why we are planning an international scientific conference on the topic in Reykjavík Iceland in April 2020.&nbsp;<br /> <br /> Moreover, Iceland also wants to introduce a new project focusing on innovation and efficient use of marine biological resources, or the so-called Blue Bio-Economy.&nbsp;<br /> Experience has shown that through innovation and biotechnological solutions, it is possible to increase significantly the utilization level of biomass taken out of the ocean.&nbsp;<br /> Through successful application of the method it provides for positive outcomes for the environment, it strengthens the economy and has positive effect in the communities. I will go into this in more detail in a second.</span></p> <p><span>Our second priority concerns climate and green energy solutions. We will follow up on Finland’s initiative and continue to focus on meteorological co-operation.&nbsp;<br /> In that respect, I would like to mention explicitly a project on mapping glaciers and providing more accurate information on the dramatic glacial reduction being witnessed in my part of the world.&nbsp;<br /> <br /> The impending shift in energy sources from fossil fuels to renewable energy will continue to be important, both for reducing greenhouse gas emissions and for improving air quality in Arctic communities. Iceland aims for further work to be carried out, continuing to seek practical green energy solutions, focusing specifically on small communities in the Arctic.&nbsp;<br /> Our third main priority will be to support Arctic societies in building prosperous and sustainable communities. The Arctic Council already has a strong record of promoting sustainable development and growth in the region, but in the coming decades, adapting to continuous warming of the Arctic will be a major challenge for many of the small Arctic communities, not least the indigenous people.&nbsp;<br /> <br /> We, therefore, wish to continue co-operation on matters like gender equality, connectivity, adaptation and resilience as well as on economic development. Here, the key is to put education, knowledge sharing and innovation at the forefront.&nbsp;<br /> And speaking of knowledge-sharing, ladies and gentlemen,<br /> <br /> Iceland’s economy has been diversified in the last couple of decades, but previously the strategic sector of it was the sustainable utilization of our fisheries resources. Iceland is blessed with extremely productive fishing grounds. With strong support from many international partners, we saw the United Nations Convention on the Law of Seas come into being. This laid down the foundation for our strong fisheries management system.<br /> <br /> We have invested heavily in maritime research and science in Iceland and we benefit from the fact that there is absolute, cross-societal support for basing our fisheries management on the best available scientific advice. In doing so we have been able to keep our fisheries resources in good shape, for the benefit of the whole of Icelandic society and economy, and we have experience to share when it comes to striking the right balance between protection and sustainable harvesting.&nbsp;<br /> </span></p> <p><span>The Icelandic approach has also meant that for a long time our fishing industry has lived, and prospered, in knowing that their only possibility to grow is through better use of the biomass they are harvesting. In fact, innovation has enabled them to multiply the market value of their products.&nbsp;<br /> <br /> In the last couple of decades, we have seen incredible increase in the levels of utilization of catches. Some fishing companies have even reached 100% utilisation, meaning that they have virtually no biomass waste from their production and, at least equally importantly, this has led to dramatic increase in their total product value.<br /> <br /> This experience has inspired Iceland to propose to the Arctic Council a project on the Blue Bioeconomy.&nbsp;</span>We not only believe, but know, that by applying the sustainable methodology of the Blue Bioeconomy it is possible to dramatically increase the quality and market value of the products of the fishing industry in many of the Arctic communities. In fact, applying biotechnology and innovation is, in my opinion, the perfect example on how innovation can be key for Arctic communities to thrive in a sustainable manner.&nbsp;</p> <p><span>And fourthly, Iceland will continue to work for a stronger Arctic Council and give due attention to the inner workings of the Arctic Council by maintaining the close consultations between Member States and the Permanent Participants. However, as many of the impacts that are affecting the Arctic originate outside the Arctic, we must also strengthen the co-operation with and engagement of other stakeholders in the Arctic.&nbsp;<br /> <br /> Iceland will continue to use innovative ways to enhance the engagement with Arctic Council observers in a mutually beneficial manner. A key for success in that respect is that observers can contribute to the projects of the Arctic Council in a meaningful way.&nbsp;<br /> <br /> Another very important part of our strategy in this regard, which is the one I alluded to earlier, is the formation of new partnerships with a wide variety of stakeholders.&nbsp;<br /> Governments, businesses, communities and individual Arctic residents, everyone has a role to play in this major challenge.<br /> <br /> Important actors have already teamed up with us. The Arctic Economic Council will celebrate its five years anniversary during Iceland’s Chairmanship, and we plan to further enhance the collaboration between the two Councils. To this end we used the opportunity in Rovaniemi earlier this month to sign a Memorandum of Understanding between the two Councils.&nbsp;</span></p> <p><span>The aim of the MoU is to provide a framework for the co-operation and facilitate the achievement of our shared goals. That is to say - safeguarding the well-being, safety and prosperity of all Arctic inhabitants, as well as creating vibrant, sustainable regional economies. The two councils intend to continue co-operation in the field of connectivity, and</span></p> <p><span>I am happy to see that they also intend to focus on the Blue Bioeconomy, maritime safety and capacity building amongst other areas. The work will be co-ordinated through regular exchange of information, participation in each other’s projects and joint activities where appropriate.&nbsp;<br /> <br /> In this light, I am pleased to note that the Arctic Economic Council and the Senior Arctic Officials are planning to convene a joint meeting this fall on the occasion of the five years anniversary of the Council and to further advance their co-operation.&nbsp;&nbsp;<br /> <br /> Ladies and gentlemen,</span></p> <p><span>As a politician I have been a devoted proponent of a strong private sector and of the Government working with the private sector whenever possible. I truly believe that by providing healthy conditions for private undertakings we can unleash hidden powers within our societies that will benefit us all.</span></p> <p><span>I trust that you can all see this well reflected in the Icelandic chairmanship priorities of the Arctic Council for the next two years.&nbsp;But it is also reflected in the fact that this is the first Arctic engagement that I take on after taking over the Chairmanship of the Arctic Council - on Doing Business in the Arctic and in this excellent co-operation with the Icelandic American Chamber of Commerce and other collaborators.&nbsp;<br /> <br /> Our conference chair Jon Sigurdsson was, actually, once upon a time the Icelandic Trade Commissioner to North America but later moved on to become the CEO of one of Iceland’s most successful Icelandic innovation companies, Össur. This is a private sector engagement that I am proud to support.<br /> <br /> In conclusion, I would like to thank all the organisers of today’s event and particularly all the Embassy staff that have worked around the clock in making sure that everything is working as it should.&nbsp;</span></p> <p><span>And last but not least thank you all for turning up and spending a morning with us devoted to Doing Business in the Arctic.&nbsp;<br /> Thank you all.&nbsp;<br /> <br /> </span></p>
21. maí 2019Blá ör til hægriRæða ráðherra á Womenomics viðskiptaráðstefnu í Kaupmannahöfn<p style="text-align: left;">Womenomics Nordic Business Conference<br /> Copenhagen, 21 May 2019</p> <p style="text-align: left;">Womenomics Award</p> <p style="text-align: left;">Statement by <br /> Guðlaugur Þór Þórðarson<br /> Minister for Foreign Affairs of Iceland</p> <p style="text-align: left;"> Dear guests, <br /> <br /> It is with gratitude and pride that I stand here today and receive on behalf of my country this recognition for our "uncompromising Quest for Gender Equality" as you so eloquently put it. <br /> <br /> I understand that this is the first time a country or its people is granted the Womenomics Honorary Award. <br /> <br /> And I say, thank you, we will do our utmost to continue our quest, as this is both a recognition and an encouragement to do better. <br /> <br /> Icelanders are fortunate to have seen important progress on gender equality and for a decade our efforts have been recognized by the World Economic Forum’s Global Gender Gap Index. Due to Iceland’s international reputation as gender champions, gender equality is often the main topic of my meetings with fellow foreign ministers – something I did not expect when I came into office. They want to know how we have achieved this progress. <br /> <br /> I give credit first and foremost to the relentless work and determination of the womens’ movement and women pioneers in Iceland. One of them is former President of Iceland, Madam Vigdis Finnbogadottir, the world’s first democratically elected female head of state, who has been an inspiration to many generations of both men and women. <br /> <br /> These women have also been instrumental to promoting and implementing the public policies essential to progress. In Iceland and the Nordic countries, such policies have paved the way for the development of modern family and gender projects, and the explicit promotion of gender equality at home, at work, and in public life.<br /> <br /> In my view, universal affordable quality childcare and a generous shared parental leave are perhaps the most important steps taken towards building the legal and social infrastructure necessary for women to fully participate at all levels of society. The paternity leave, with a “use-it-or-lose-it” portion accorded to fathers has been a game-changer, both in the public and the private sphere. It already has facilitated a paradigm shift in Iceland, and it has further strengthened deep-rooted values of democracy in the Icelandic society, for the benefit of both men and women. <br /> <br /> This year, it would appear that all roads lead not to Rome but to Reykjavik. Iceland has assumed the chairmanship of the Nordic cooperation and on the Board of the World Bank, representing the Nordic-Baltic constituency and since last year, Iceland is a member of the Human Rights Council in Geneva. <br /> <br /> Gender equality is a common theme in all these roles and shows clearly that we will put gender issues on the agenda whenever and wherever possible. Gender issues are already in our DNA in the Nordic countries, as reflected in the fact that gender mainstreaming is common practice in the Nordic Council of Ministers, and the Nordic foreign ministers usually speak with one voice on gender in international fora. <br /> <br /> This is important, because the struggle for true gender equality is far from over. We need good role models, we need success stories and we need to protect and promote women’s human rights and the empowerment of women internationally. <br /> <br /> It is also my strong believe that the inclusion of men is essential. If men are largely missing from the debate on equality, we are playing with only half the team. <br /> <br /> This morning, some of you were among the 100 people who attended the Barbershop Conference organized by Above and beyond, our hosts here today. Unlike most gender equality events, most participants were men: private sector CEOs, politicians and decision makers from the public sector. <br /> <br /> The first Barbershop event was co-convened by the UN and the permanent representations of Iceland and Suriname to the UN, held at the United Nations in New York in January 2015. <br /> <br /> Since then some 2400 people, within organizations such as ILO, WTO, NATO, OSCE, the European Parliament, OECD, and the Icelandic Parliament, to name but a few, have participated in Barbershops. <br /> <br /> The aim of the Barbershop talks is to raise awareness among men, to stress their role, responsibilities as well as opportunities. Its purpose is to motivate men and boys to commit to upholding gender equality and discuss how men can become agents of change. <br /> <br /> I believe this was the sixth Barbershop event I participate in, which I consider a training camp of a sort. It is designed to equip men with the tools they need in order to take on an active role in achieving equality. This is what the Barbershop is all about. And it works, it is an eye-opener for a lot of men. <br /> <br /> Next Barbershop will be held next month within the West Nordic cooperation in Tórshavn Faroe Islands, focusing on Mobilizing men and boys for gender equality and Gender Equality in the workplace. <br /> <br /> Dear colleagues and friends, <br /> <br /> The Prime Minister of Iceland, Katrin Jakobsdóttir, recently gave a very thought-provoking lecture at the London School of Economics where she reminded students that this year marks the 150th anniversary of John Stuart Mill’s famous essay, The Subjection of Women. The essay describes the urgent need of moving away from the legal subordination of one sex to the other and towards the principle of perfect equality. <br /> <br /> At the current rate, gender equality will not be reached until the year 2133 according a UN assessment. That means we need new strategies since the world cannot afford to wait. <br /> <br /> A recent study by the World Bank (introduced 30 May 2018) found that countries are losing billions in wealth because of differences in lifetime earnings between women and men. Another report, presented by the OECD last year, reveals that promoting gender equality is likely to carry several benefits for societies and economies. Societies that are more gender-equal tend to be happier, healthier, more trusting and have more prosperous economies. <br /> <br /> Gender equality has proven to be good for business as pointed out in many studies. Companies that are led by women or have diverse management teams and boards do better and are more profitable. <br /> <br /> The theme today is: "Accelerate Gender Diversity &amp; Explore Female-Driven Growth Potential", with a focus on how to increase diversity in management and better understand the opportunities of the global female economy. <br /> <br /> Despite Iceland's achievements in the broad sence women sometimes hit the glass ceiling when it comes to highest positions on the private market. <br /> <br /> This is where we need to embrace the female-riven growth potential. I hope to hear about successes in the course of the day, and hopefully take home with me strategies that will help us break the glass ceiling. <br /> <br /> This is where we need to embrace the female-driven growth potential. I hope to hear about successes in the course of the day, and hopefully take home with me strategies that will help us break the glass ceiling. <br /> <br /> A couple of years ago, world leaders agreed to a new agenda, Agenda 2030 and the Global Goals. It provides a blueprint for how we can work together for a sustainable future and right now, all of our countries are hard at work figuring out how to implement those goals. I mention this here because all of you hold a position of power and influence. <br /> <br /> The equal participation of women at all levels, the respect for women‘s human rights and the empowerment of women will be fundamental to our success in reaching all the Global goals. Because half of our human <br /> resources are women, who, given the opportunity, will make our societies wealthier, healthier and better in every way. <br /> <br /> When I make the case for gender equality internationally, I always point to how it benefits us men. Men in gender equal societies tend to live longer and such societies are both more prosperous and more peaceful. This resonates with all men as well as women. <br /> <br /> As a final word: <br /> <br /> Honoured Womenomics Award Committee, let me reiterate my gratitude for the honour you show Iceland. I wish you a productive meeting. <br /> <br /> Thank you for your attention.</p>
21. maí 2019Blá ör til hægriOpnunarávarp ráðherra á rakarastofuráðstefnu WomenomicsOpening address of Minister Guðlaugur Þór Þórðarson<br /> Barbershop 21 May 2019<br /> <br /> Ladies and gentlemen,<br /> <br /> I am very happy to see so many of you here today. It is not that common yet to attend a gender equality event where most participants are men. But let me assure you, most of us have found the Barbershop events to be an eye-opener!<br /> <br /> The world has been a man’s world for a long time and now it’s time that it becomes a gender equal world.<br /> <br /> Today we will focus on the critical role men can play as partners with women in moving the gender equality agenda forward.<br /> <br /> The aim of the Barbershop talks is to raise awareness among men, to stress their role, responsibilities as well as opportunities. Its purpose is to motivate men and boys to commit to upholding gender equality and discuss how men can instead become agents of change.<br /> <br /> The first Barbershop event was co-convened by the UN and the permanent representations of Iceland and Suriname to the UN, held at the United Nations in New York in January 2015.<br /> <br /> Since then some 2400 people, within organizations such as ILO, WTO, NATO, OSCE, the European Parliament, OECD, the World Bank Group and the Icelandic Parliament, to name but a few, have participated in Barbershops.<br /> <br /> I believe this is the sixth Barbershop event I participate in, which I consider this a training camp of sorts. Its designed to equip men with the tools they need in order to take on an active role in achieving equality. This is what the Barbershop is all about.<br /> <br /> Dear friends,<br /> <br /> I was raised by a strong mother who worked full time when most mothers worked part-time or stayed at home. My father was the caring type who usually made us dinner. I didn’t realize it until later how progressive my family really was.<br /> <br /> A lot has changed since I was growing up, but there is still room for improvement. In Iceland for example we have come a long way and we have a great record as one of the most gender equal countries in the world.<br /> <br /> We had the first democratically elected female head of state almost 40 years ago, madame Vigdís Finnbogadóttir. She has been an inspiration to my generation and others, both to men and women. She probably inspired my current boss, the Prime Minister of Iceland, Katrín Jakobsdóttir, leading our government.<br /> <br /> Still, complicated challenges remain, both in Iceland and in other parts of the world. In Iceland, we have put in place laws to ensure equal representation in boards, but the action is yet to be translated into more female CEOs.<br /> <br /> We also have a new law to enforce a decade old legislation on equal pay, but we still need to address the labour market segregation that contributes largely to the absolute gender pay gap.<br /> <br /> If we want to close the gap, we need to change social norms. We must ensure equal opportunities and an equal chance to make the most of them, regardless of gender.<br /> <br /> It never occurred to me to think of women as any less capable than men. And as men sometimes do, I found a partner who, just like my mother, is a strong hard-working woman; an entrepreneur.<br /> <br /> Together we are raising four amazing children, two girls and two boys. I have also become a grandfather to a baby girl. I truly am a rich man.<br /> <br /> Despite my sometimes hectic life as a politician I make every effort to be there for my family. We are a close family and just like my dad, my favourite time is when I have the chance to cook the Sunday roast at our home for the whole family. This is one benefit of gender equality – we men get to be equal in the home and in our families.<br /> <br /> I am not advocating for gender equality solely for my mother, my wife, my daughters or my granddaughter. We know from our experience that gender equality brings benefits to all of us. Also to men.<br /> <br /> Various studies show that more gender equality equals a happier, healthier life for everyone. I often say that men should work hard to build a gender equal society so that they can live longer to be able to enjoy a few more games of soccer over a pint of beer. But that’s just a joke of course – health and happiness are indeed worth striving for.<br /> <br /> Equal participation also translates to a more sustainable peace – when you include women in peace processes, you are both more likely to reach an agreement to end the conflict and to sustain that peace.<br /> <br /> For many years the parliament has been my workplace. There I have had the good fortune of working with inspiring men and women from across the political spectrum. In my experience, it has improved the political debate to have a more equal representation.<br /> <br /> In politics I have had great female mentors and I have also gotten the chance to guide many aspiring women. Such respectful communication between men and women are genuinely enriching.<br /> <br /> We have had a Barbershop conference in the parliament of Iceland, Althingi and at the Foreign Ministry. It opened up a dialogue between men and women on what we could do better. I think our discussion was quite eye-opening and that is what I hope for our session here today.<br /> <br /> I wish you a fruitful discussion and a sharp Barbershop.<br /> <br /> Thank you.<br /> <br /> <br />
17. maí 2019Blá ör til hægriÁvarp utanríkisráðherra á ráðherrafundi Evrópuráðsins<p><span><strong>Helsinki, 17 May 2019</strong></span></p> <p><span><strong>129th Session of the Committee of Ministers, Council of Europe</strong></span></p> <p><span><strong>Mr Guðlaugur Þór Þórðarson, Minister for Foreign Affairs of Iceland</strong></span></p> <p><span><br /> <br /> <em>Mr Chair, Mr Secretary General, Ministers and colleagues,</em><br /> <br /> Let me start by congratulating you, Minister Soini, and your team on the great work you have carried out during the Finnish chairmanship of the Committee of Minister. You have offered a steady hand and a solution-based approach in your work on the Council of Europe´s three pillars and no less regarding the institutional crisis that is threatening the very future of our organisation.<br /> <br /> Iceland commends you, Mr Secretary General, dear Jagland, for your annual report. We remain concerned about the rising trends in Europe where the freedom of expression and the freedom of assembly are undermined and NGOs and the media face increased pressure and attacks.&nbsp;<br /> <br /> Our concerns further extend to other vulnerable groups and, despite some legislative improvements, on the rights of LGBTI people who continue to face discrimination and attacks in some Council of Europe Member States. These are matters we need to address urgently.&nbsp;<br /> <br /> Mr Secretary General, we welcome the focus areas to strengthen the Council of Europe that are highlighted in your report, including the increased focus and interest in artificial intelligence. Women, ethnic minorities, people with disabilities and LGBTI persons are particularly vulnerable to discrimination from biased algorithms and we need to assess what human rights risks are involved and how we can react. We are in full support of undertaking the necessary steps to develop a legal framework on artificial intelligence based on our standards of human rights, democracy and the rule of law.&nbsp;&nbsp;<br /> <br /> Dear colleagues, it is my firm believe that the Council of Europe operates for the benefits of the citizens of our Member States. For this reason, I hope we can find a solution to the crisis upon us. I worry that if it remains unsolved it might not only pose harm to our organisation, but also negatively affect European citizens who can today benefit from the protection provided under various Council of Europe instruments.&nbsp;<br /> <br /> Finally, I would like to take this opportunity to restate Iceland’s support for Georgia’s sovereignty and territorial integrity. I would also like to reiterate our support for the sovereignty of Ukraine within its internationally recognized borders.&nbsp;<br /> <br /> I extend my best wishes to France in their upcoming chairmanship and, once again, thank your Secretary General Jagland for your service to the Council of Europe, and our common mission in promoting human rights. I would also like to take this opportunity to extend congratulations to Secretary General Jagland on Norway’s national day.<br /> <br /> Thank you.<br /> <br /> </span></p>
07. maí 2019Blá ör til hægriÁvarp á utanríkisráðherrafundi Norðurskautsráðsins<p><span>Rovaniemi, 7. maí 2019<br /> Statements from the Arctic States and from the Permanent Participants&nbsp;<br /> Mr. Guðlaugur Þór Þórðarson,<br /> Minister for Foreign Affairs of Iceland<br /> <br /> Thank you Mr. Chair,&nbsp;</span></p> <p><span>Dear colleagues, heads of delegations of the Permanent Participants, ladies and gentlemen,<br /> It gives me great pleasure to be with you here in Rovaniemi today.&nbsp;</span></p> <p><span>Firstly, I would like to congratulate Minister Soini on the very successful completion of the Finnish chairmanship. Under Finland´s leadership we have been able to truly advance our mission in the Arctic Council, in good cooperation with the Permanent Participants, the Arctic Council Working Groups and subsidiary bodies as well as an increasingly large group of Observers. We commend our Finnish colleagues on their great work. You have made our job a lot easier and we look forward to building on your outstanding chairmanship and adding new value to the present work being done. Let me also state that we welcome the Statement by the Chair and the Joint Statement of Ministers.&nbsp;</span></p> <p><span>While I try to build suspense for the Icelandic priority areas, I want to emphasise the role that each of us plays in the well-functioning of the Arctic Council. Our common ground and common responsibility is the Arctic. Our duty is to work together. We may not all agree on every single issue, but I do dare to say that we do share a common understanding, namely that the Arctic is an important region not only to all of us present here today, but also in the context of global environmental developments. Our common goal is to ensure sustainable development in the Arctic, focussing equally on each of the three pillars of sustainability and emphasising active collaboration and knowledge-building.</span></p> <p><span>Looking ahead, and trying to envisage what the future could hold for us, we know that scientific research indicates that we can expect, due to climate change, more drastic changes to the Arctic environment in the next two decades than in the past hundred years. Even a fully implemented Paris Agreement is not expected to curb global warming until after the middle of the 21st Century.</span></p> <p><span>As a result, we must anticipate that the Arctic ice will continue to melt and that ice-free marine areas will grow during the summer months. Adapting to the continuing warming of the Arctic and building resilience will be a major challenge for many of the small Arctic communities, not least to indigenous people and their ways of life.&nbsp;</span></p> <p><span>The Council’s focus on sustainable development, and the scientific work that has been carried out by its subsidiary bodies, has yielded an important basis for discussions on a variety of important issues. The Arctic Council has, for instance, increased and broadened our understanding of the Arctic ecosystem, enabling us to make informed decisions on how we approach the region’s environment and resources. This is relevant to states outside the Arctic, which may explain growing interest in obtaining observer status in recent years.</span></p> <p><span>Growing international interest in Arctic matters demonstrates a dramatic change in international priorities from what they were just 15 years ago. The geostrategic situation in the region has changed and this reality is also reflected in the Arctic Council’s international status and the attention that the work of the Council enjoys. It has evolved from being a peripheral regional venue to being a truly central body for co-operation in the region.</span></p> <p><span>A changing climate poses new challenges and makes it increasingly important to ensure that the Arctic remains a low-tension area.&nbsp; While the Arctic Council does not address military security, it is an important venue for dialogue and peaceful co-operation in the Arctic region. Its clear mandate and regional focus on sustainable development and knowledge-building has allowed it to continue its work, irrespective of global political tensions.</span></p> <p><span>Our shared interest in avoiding a military build-up, or worse conflicts, in the North cannot be overstated. In this regard, increased military activities in the North Atlantic and the Arctic are a source of concern. Reaching common understandings and solutions, while respecting international law that govern the region and maintaining the stability that has, so far, characterized the region is of global interest.</span></p> <p><span>Working closely with all partners, inside as well as outside the region, is of utmost importance for both prosperity and security in the Arctic region. The conflictual elements that may result from the opening-up of the Arctic make the Council’s contribution to sustainable development in the region increasingly relevant. In fact, sustainable development may be the single most important element to reduce tensions and, thereby, alleviate the risk of military build-up.</span></p> <p><span>In this respect I truly believe that an active dialogue, based on state-of-the-art scientific research, conducted through dynamic collaboration between our countries and organizations, is the best way forward for a constructive development of the Arctic Council.</span></p> <p><span>Dear colleagues, leaders of Permanent participants organisations, observers,&nbsp;<br /> </span></p> <p><span>I very much look forward to introducing the Icelandic Chairmanship priorities later here today, as well as to our continued and constructive debates.&nbsp;<br /> </span></p> <p><span>Thank you.<br /> <br /> </span></p>
07. maí 2019Blá ör til hægriKynning ráðherra á formennskuáherslum Íslands á utanríkisráðherrafundi Norðurskautsráðsins<p><span>Rovaniemi, 7. maí 2019<br /> Presentation of the Icelandic Chairmanship Program&nbsp;<br /> Mr. Guðlaugur Þór Þórðarson,<br /> Minister for Foreign Affairs of Iceland<br /> <br /> Thank you, Chairman,<br /> Dear colleagues, ladies and gentlemen,<br /> <br /> I am very pleased to take the floor again in this esteemed gathering, and this time to present Iceland’s Chairmanship program in the Arctic Council.&nbsp;<br /> </span></p> <p><span>Arctic affairs are a top priority in Iceland's foreign policy and chairing the Arctic Council brings a unique and much welcomed opportunity for Iceland to lead the collaboration between the Member States, the Permanent Participants and the Observers within the Council.&nbsp;</span></p> <p><span></span>Rotating the Chairmanship of the Arctic Council is an excellent way of regularly engaging Member States in the Arctic Council's affairs. It provides an opportunity for the Chairmanship to further engage in Arctic issues at the international arena as well as domestically. We look forward to the task and will do our utmost to live up to your expectations.&nbsp;</p> <p><span>We will build our Chairmanship on the ongoing work of the Arctic Council. Most of its ambitious projects will continue and our approach as Chair is to highlight certain aspects of the Council’s already ambitious agenda as well as to introduce new fields of co-operation through specific projects.&nbsp;</span></p> <p><span>In the spirit of the Ottawa declaration that founded the Arctic Council twenty-two years ago, sustainable development will be the guiding light in our Chairmanship program, which we present under the heading Together Towards a Sustainable Arctic. Sustainable development is built on three pillars - the environment, the economy and the people and, as we see it, the Arctic Council should continue to address all those pillars in a balanced manner.&nbsp;</span></p> <p><span>In our Chairmanship program we have highlighted four main priority areas.&nbsp;</span></p> <p><span>First, the Arctic marine environment. It should hardly come as a surprise that Iceland will keep the oceans at heart during our Chairmanship. I even dare to say that few nations have a deeper appreciation of the importance of a healthy marine environment than Iceland.&nbsp;<br /> The largest part of the Arctic region is covered by ocean, and the welfare of a large part of the population in the Arctic is based on the sustainable utilization of marine resources. The Arctic Council Working Groups have carried out many important ocean-related projects and Iceland will focus on continuation and further development of projects in that field.&nbsp;<br /> Iceland is particularly interested in strengthening Arctic Council co-operation on mitigating plastic pollution of the oceans and is planning an international scientific conference on the topic in Reykjavík Iceland in April 2020.&nbsp;</span></p> <p><span>Iceland also wants to introduce a new project focusing on innovation and efficient utilization of marine biological resources, or the so-called Blue Bio-Economy. Experience has shown that through innovation and biotechnological solutions it is possible to increase significantly the utilization level of the biomass taken out of the ocean. When done right this is good for the environment, strengthens the economy and has positive effect in the communities.<br /> Our second priority concerns climate and green energy solutions. We will be continuing Finland´s emphasis on improved weather forecasts in the Arctic. I would in particular like to mention a project on mapping glaciers and providing more accurate information on the dramatic glacial reduction being witnessed in our part of the world.&nbsp;<br /> The impending shift in energy sources from fossil fuels to renewable energy will be important, both for reducing greenhouse gas emissions and for improving air quality in Arctic communities. Iceland aims for further work to be carried out based on the ARENA project and continuing to seek practical green energy solutions for small communities in the Arctic.&nbsp;</span></p> <p><span>Our third main priority will be on the people of the Arctic and their desire to build prosperous and sustainable communities. The Arctic Council has a strong history of promoting sustainable development and growth in communities in the region and we wish to continue co-operation on matters like gender equality, connectivity and adaptation and resilience. In the coming decades, adapting to continuous warming of the Arctic will be a major challenge for many of the small Arctic communities, not least the indigenous people.<br /> Last but not least, Iceland will continue to work for a better and stronger Arctic Council. The Arctic Economic Council will celebrate its five years anniversary during Iceland’s Chairmanship and we plan to seize the opportunity to enhance the collaboration between the two Councils.&nbsp;</span></p> <p><span>We will also give due attention to the inner workings of the Arctic Council by maintaining the close consultations between Member States and the Permanent Participants and continue to use innovative ways to engage with Observers in an enhanced manner. It remains important for prosperity and security in the Arctic region to work also closely with partners outside the region.&nbsp;</span></p> <p><span>Ladies and gentlemen,</span></p> <p><span></span>We are dependent on a close and peaceful co-operation that stretches across borders and boundaries. The Arctic region is governed in a co-operative manner - not least on the basis of the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea. Peaceful co-operation in the Arctic should continue to be at the forefront as we better realize the extent of the ever-growing changes in the region.&nbsp;</p> <p><span>The fact that the eight Arctic Council Member States, along with the six Permanent Participants and close to 40 observers, have been able to insulate our co-operation from negative fallout of various differences that have influenced most other international fora is very important.&nbsp;</span></p> <p><span>In this way, the Arctic Council has been an important venue for political dialogue and peaceful co-operation in the Arctic region. The Council’s clear mandate, with its regional focus on sustainable development in the Arctic, has allowed it to continue its work, irrespective of global political tensions.&nbsp;</span></p> <p><span>Ladies and gentlemen,</span></p> <p><span>Interesting and challenging tasks lie ahead of us and I remain optimistic for our continued good co-operation within the Arctic Council – the most important and representative body on Arctic affairs.</span></p> <p><span></span>Iceland is privileged to take over the Chairmanship from Finland and I want to thank you, Timo, for your personal engagement and commitment.&nbsp;</p> <p><span>We look forward to working with all of you – together towards a sustainable Arctic.<br /> Thank you.&nbsp;<br /> </span></p>
06. maí 2019Blá ör til hægriSaman til sjálfbærni á norðurslóðum<p><span>Á morgun renna upp tímamót á sviði norðurslóðasamvinnunnar þegar Ísland tekur við formennsku í Norðurskautsráðinu til næstu tveggja ára. Fullyrða má að hlutverk ráðsins hafi aldrei verið brýnna en nú og athygli á málefnum norðurslóða aldrei meiri samfara hlýnun loftslags og sviptinga í alþjóðastjórnmálum.<br /> <br /> Undir yfirskriftinni „Saman til sjálfbærni á norðurslóðum“ leggur Ísland áherslu á sjálfbæra þróun í efnahagslegu, umhverfislegu og félagslegu tilliti og beinir sjónum sérstaklega að málefnum hafsins, loftslagsmálum og grænum orkulausnum, svo og fólkinu á norðurslóðum.<br /> <br /> Á vettvangi Norðurskautsráðsins hefur um árabil verið unnið mikilvægt starf við að meta ástand hafsins. Við munum lyfta málefnum hafsins í okkar formennskutíð og beina sérstaklega kastljósinu að plastmengun í norðurhöfum, sem og bláa hagkerfinu og nýsköpun sem til dæmis lýtur að fullnýtingu sjávarafurða.<br /> <br /> Ummerki um loftslagsbreytingar eru hvergi jafn sýnileg og á norðurslóðum þar sem hitastigið hefur hækkað tvöfalt meira en heimsmeðaltalið. Um leið hækkar sjávarhitinn, hafís minnkar og jöklar hopa. Í formennskutíð Íslands verður lögð áhersla á vöktun og greiningu og unnið að hagkvæmum lausnum til orkuskipta í litlum og afskekktum samfélögum samhliða áframhaldandi vinnu við að draga úr losun skammlífra mengunarefna.<br /> <br /> Síðast en ekki síst verður að styðja við sjálfbæra efnahagsþróun á norðurslóðum í þágu þeirra fjögurra milljóna sem búa á svæðinu. Grípa þarf tækifæri sem felast í tækniþróun og bættum samgöngum til að styrkja nýsköpun og fjölbreytta atvinnuvegi. Á formennskutímanum heldur Ísland enn fremur áfram að leiða verkefni um jafnrétti kynjanna á norðurslóðum.<br /> <br /> Framundan eru ærnar áskoranir sem ekki verður tekist á við nema með samvinnu og sjálfbærni að leiðarljósi. Á þessum stefjum byggist formennska Íslands.<br /> </span></p> <p><em>Greinin birtist fyrst í Fréttablaðinu 6. maí 2019</em></p>
03. maí 2019Blá ör til hægriÁvarp ráðherra við móttöku skýrslu um framkvæmd tillagna Thorvalds Stoltenbergs um norrænt utanríkismálasamstarf <span>Ambassadors,&nbsp;<br /> Dear friends from the Nordic Institutes for International Affairs,&nbsp;<br /> Ladies and gentlemen,&nbsp;<br /> Good afternoon – góðan dag.&nbsp;<br /> <br /> It gives me great pleasure to welcome you to this event where we commemorate the 10th anniversary of the 2009 Stoltenberg report – by looking back at the implementation of its proposals. I am especially happy, if not relieved, to see experts from Norway with us here today - Ulf Sverdrup and Kristin Haugevik, as I understand that the strikes at SAS kept us all in suspense.&nbsp;<br /> <br /> This year, 2019, is a busy year for Iceland. In addition to regular international and foreign policy co-operation, and a new task that came with our election to the Human Rights Council in Geneva, Iceland is assuming five-fold chairmanship during this year. We are chairing the N5 and the NB8 foreign policy co-operation, the Nordic Council of Ministers and this summer we will take a seat on the Executive Board of the World Bank on the behalf of the NB8 countries.&nbsp;<br /> <br /> Iceland is also about to assume a two-year chairmanship in the Arctic Council. This will happen next week at a Ministerial in Rovaniemi where we will take over from our Finnish partners, who have over the past two years skillfully navigated the high seas of Arctic politics.&nbsp;<br /> <br /> These chairmanship tasks are different in nature. The upcoming chairmanship in the Arctic Council is probably the biggest task, as the vast Arctic region is a now high on everyone´s agenda. Sustainable development and low-tension in the High North continue to be key, and we will focus our attention on the oceans, the climate and green energy solutions, but also on the interest of the four million people living in the Arctic.&nbsp;<br /> <br /> This chairmanship will also be an exciting task because of the composition of the Council, with our neighbours in Russia, the United States and Canada joining the Nordic five at the table, and an increasing number of observer countries, including all the major economic powerhouses in Asia. The NB8 World Bank co-ordination will be focused on multilateral development co-operation and also last for two years<br /> &nbsp;&nbsp;<br /> The N5 and NB8 Foreign Ministers co-operation also differs from the others - first because its informal character and, second, due to the range of foreign policy issues on our agenda. That brings me to the Stoltenberg report and the reason why we are here.&nbsp;<br /> <br /> The Stoltenberg proposals 10 years ago are, in fact, a prime example of Nordic co-operation at its best. Back then, the five Nordic Foreign Ministers agreed to tasking the renown Norwegian statesman, Thorvald Stoltenberg, to come up with proposals for a closer co-operation on foreign and security policy. He was asked to think outside the box and his work was also meant to trigger debate and discussion in the Nordic countries.&nbsp;<br /> <br /> This is, indeed, what happened, and the Stoltenberg report gathered a lot of attention - and action. It is sometimes said that reports only have one thing in common - to collect dust in the drawers or libraries of the world. The Stoltenberg report proved this myth wrong with its clarity of thought and clear proposals. It did exactly what it set out to do.&nbsp;<br /> <br /> Ten years have passed and this is one of the reasons why Iceland proposed, at the Nordic Foreign Minister´s meeting in Oslo last October, to ask the Nordic Institutes for International affairs to write a report on the implementation of the proposals. This they have done, and we will hear more about the results from the speakers after me.&nbsp;<br /> <br /> Without wanting to steal the thunder, I do know that many of the Stoltenberg proposals were implemented, while others were not. And that was to the point of the exercise as the proposals were some sort of a menu for the Nordic governments to choose from.&nbsp;<br /> Dear colleagues,<br /> <br /> A few words on future co-operation. I see today´s report as an important evaluation of where we are, but also as a basis for possible further work to strengthen further Nordic foreign and security policy co-operation. We live in turbulent times and there is no lack of challenges. This makes the case for closer Nordic co-operation in the future even stronger.&nbsp;<br /> <br /> I believe we as Nordics need and must do more for, at least, three reasons. First, I believe we must do more in protecting human rights around the world and preserving the rule-based international order. Unfortunately, there are deeply worrying developments in many parts of the world, but also closer to home. Countries like ours, the Nordics, need to speak clearly and stay firm on the principles of international law.&nbsp;<br /> <br /> Second, free trade also needs to be promoted. I am a steadfast supporter of international trade, not only for the obvious economic benefit but also because it encourages people-to-people contacts, including amongst the young people. Both is needed in today´s world – maybe more now than ever. Isolationism and trade barriers, let alone trade wars, are not the answer.&nbsp;<br /> <br /> Third, responding to global climate change is probably our biggest challenge both in the near and long term. We need to meet the targets of the Paris Agreement, but also go beyond that. Our systems – societal, energy and economy, and basically our whole way of life, needs to be transformed and become sustainable.&nbsp;<br /> <br /> On all these accounts, and indeed others, the Nordic countries can show themselves, and others, that positive change is possible. We may not agree on everything. In fact, we disagree on a range of topics - just as we do not see eye-to-eye on all issues in domestic politics.&nbsp;<br /> <br /> The fact is, however, that the Nordic countries share the same fundamental values - democracy, rule of law, human rights, equality, diversity. We are ready to stand for these values, honor them, protect and promote. Therein lies our strength, also in our deep-rooted democratic culture, and allows us to discuss different ways and means to the shared goal of ensuring peaceful and prosperous societies and contribute to a stable and sustainable world.&nbsp;<br /> <br /> Dear friends,<br /> <br /> I could talk for hours on this topic, but this is not why we are here! This is the day for the reassessing the Stoltenberg report - 10 years on. Again, congratulations on the report, Ulf, Kristin and Pia and your excellent co-workers at the University.&nbsp;<br /> <br /> Please extend, on behalf of the Nordic Foreign Ministers, our gratitude to your colleagues in Denmark, Finland and Sweden. Your work demonstrates the agility of Nordic co-operation – you were quick and professional in delivering your work. I am confident that it will lay the ground for vivid discussion and hopefully clever conclusions.&nbsp;<br /> <br /> Thank you for your attention.&nbsp;<br /> <br /> <br /> </span>
29. apríl 2019Blá ör til hægriÁvarp utanríkisráðherra á ársfundi Íslandsstofu<span></span> <p><strong>Ársfundur Íslandsstofu</strong></p> <p><span><strong>Norðurljósasal Hörpu</strong></span><strong>, 29. apríl 2019<br /> </strong></p> <p><strong>Ávarp Guðlaugs Þórs Þórðarsonar, utanríkisráðherra</strong><br /> <br /> <span>Formaður stjórnar Íslandsstofu, framkvæmdastjóri, góðir fundargestir</span>,</p> <p><span>Það er ánægjulegt að ávarpa ársfund nýrrar Íslandsstofa, nú þegar bráðum er ár liðið frá því að frumvarp mitt um breytingar á lögum um Íslandsstofu var samþykkt á Alþingi.</span></p> <p><span>Að baki því frumvarpi, sem unnið var í náinni samvinnu með atvinnulífinu og fleiri aðilum, er hugmyndin um vettvang þar sem atvinnulífið og stjórnvöld gætu stillt saman strengi í sókn á erlenda markaði, hugmyndin um langtímastefnumótun þar sem þessir aðilar gengu í takt í átt að sameiginlegu markmiði um aukna verðmætasköpun.</span></p> <p><span>Það er grundvallaratriði í þessum hugmyndum að útflutningsþjónusta og markaðsstarf fyrir Ísland byggist á langtímastefnumótun sem mörkuð er í breiðri samvinnu allra er hagsmuna eiga að gæta og sé ákvörðuð af æðstu ráðamönnum í samstarfi við atvinnulífið.</span></p> <p><span>Þær breytingar sem ég lagði til á lögum um Íslandsstofu og Alþingi samþykkti miðuðu allar að þessu marki, að treysta og styrkja samstarf atvinnulífs og stjórnvalda um markaðsstarf og ímynd Íslands.</span></p> <p><span>Góðir fundarmenn,<br /> Ný Íslandsstofa hefur farið vel af stað og það hefur verið ánægjulegt að fylgjast með þeirri hugmyndavinnu sem nú á sér stað varðandi framtíðarstefnumörkun Íslandsstofu. Fyrir rétt rúmum mánuði ávarpaði ég fyrsta fund Útflutnings- og&nbsp; markaðsráðs sem gegna mun veigamiklu hlutverki við þessa stefnumörkun.</span></p> <p><span>Við framtíðarstefnumörkun Íslandsstofu byggjum við auðvitað á þeim góða grunni sem lagður hefur verið á undanförnum árum og áratugum. Margir hafa komið að því verkefni en það er auðvitað á engan hallað þegar ég segi að Jón Ásbergsson eigi þar stærstan hlut að máli. Ég vil nota þetta tækifæri og þakka Jóni fyrir hönd ríkisstjórnarinnar fyrir hans öfluga starf að útflutningsmálum Íslendinga. Og ég vil ég líka nota þetta tækifæri og hrósa nýrri stjórn Íslandsstofu fyrir að finna að ég tel hárrétta manninn til að taka við keflinu. Ég hef fylgst náið með störfum Péturs Óskarssonar nú á upphafsmetrunum og þau lofa svo sannarlega góðu fyrir framhaldið.</span></p> <p><span>Góðir fundarmenn,<br /> Við Íslendingar eigum í kapphlaupi við þjóðir heims um bætt lífskjör. Í þeirri keppni fæst ekkert gefið. Hvort við Íslendingar náum árangri í þeirri keppni er undir okkur sjálfum komið. Lífskjör okkar Íslendinga næstu áratugi munu ráðast af því hvernig okkur tekst til á allra næstu árum. Það er staðreynd og sú staðreynd hvílir á okkar herðum.</span></p> <p><span>Við gleymum því stundum hversu mikilvæg útflutningsverslun er fyrir okkur Íslendinga. Í upphafi síðustu aldar vorum við meðal fátækustu þjóða Vestur-Evrópu. Með fullveldinu fengum við verslunarfrelsi og einni öld síðar erum við meðal ríkustu þjóða heims.</span></p> <p><span>Það tók okkur vissulega talsverðan tíma að kasta af okkur einangrunarhöftunum en þegar við loksins gerðum það þá hófst hér lífskjarasókn sem á sér vart hliðstæðu.</span></p> <p><span>Og hver skyldi vendipunkturinn í þeim efnum hafa verið? Vissulega voru stigin margvísleg framfaraskref á síðustu öld og víst er að útfærsla landhelginnar vó þar mjög þung og sömuleiðis inngang okkar í EFTA. En vendipunkturinn var innganga okkar í Evrópska efnahagssvæðið fyrir réttum aldarfjórðungi.</span></p> <p><span>EES-samningurinn þýðir í raun að Evrópumarkaðurinn er okkar kjölfestumarkaður. Óheftur aðgangur að kjölfestumarkaði okkar, innri markaði Evrópu, hefur veitt okkur frelsi og áræði til að afla nýrra markaða fyrir vörur okkar og þjónustu. Innri markaðurinn er kjölfestan og stöðugleikinn um leið og við leitum tækifæra á nýmörkuðum.</span></p> <p><span>Við höfum á síðustu 25 árum notið ríkulega góðs af kostum EES-samningsins. Þá er ég ekki bara að vísa til aukningar í landsframleiðslu og ráðstöfunartekna einstaklinga samhliða stórauknum útflutningi og utanríkisverslun almennt.</span></p> <p><span>EES-samningurinn hefur einnig fært okkur umbætur á laga- og samkeppnisumhverfi, bæði fyrir neytendur og atvinnulífið, sem við í dag teljum sjálfsagðar, að ónefndum fjölmörgum tækifærum á sviði vísinda-, rannsókna og menntamála.</span></p> <p><span>Og kannski er lykilhugtakið hér sjálfsagt. Hvort sem horfum á málin sem neytendur, atvinnurekendur, innflytjendur, útflytjendur, launþegar, fræðimenn eða námsmenn, þá er svo margt í okkar umhverfi og í daglegu lífi sem við teljum sjálfsagt en er í reynd grundvallað á þeim réttindum sem við njótum samkvæmt EES-samningnum.</span></p> <p><span>Þessi staða er alltaf hættuleg. Þegar við teljum eitthvað sjálfsagt eða sjálfgefið þá erum við aldrei nær því að missa það frá okkur.</span></p> <p><span>Ný lífskjarasókn fyrir næstu kynslóðir felst í því að opna nýja markaði en ekki að loka þeim sem fyrir eru. Ný lífskjarasókn fyrir næstu kynslóðir felst í því hafa áfram nánast óheftan aðgang að okkar kjölfestumarkaði um leið og við leitum nýrra tækifæra á vaxandi mörkuðum. Ný lífskjarasókn felst í því að íslensk fyrirtæki geta áfram keppt og þróast á kjölfestumarkaði sínum á jafnræðisgrundvelli og notað samkeppnishæfni sína til að sækja fram á nýjum mörkuðum. Ný lífskjarasókn mun byggja á því að unga fólkið okkar geti áfram sótt sér þekkingu og reynslu á grundvelli þeirra réttinda sem það nýtur samkvæmt EES-samningnum.</span></p> <p><span>Það var mikið gæfuspor á 75 ára afmæli fullveldisins, fyrir réttum aldarfjórðungi, að við skyldum nýta forræði okkar yfir eigin málum til að gera alþjóðasamning á okkar eigin forsendum, sérsniðinn að okkar hagsmunum.</span></p> <p><span>Það er og á að vera sameiginlegt verkefni stjórnvalda og atvinnulífsins að tryggja að þessi kjölfesta íslenskrar utanríkisverslunar verði áfram fyrir hendi og að hún verði undirstaða nýrrar lífskjarasóknar.</span></p> <p><span>Góðir fundarmenn,<br /> Þessi fyrsti ársfundir nýrrar Íslandsstofu gefur góð fyrirheit. Órofa samstaða atvinnulífsins og stjórnvalda um markmiðið, öflugir stjórnendur og frábært starfsfólk – þetta eru forsendur fyrir góðum árangri.</span></p> <p><span>Ég hlakka til að fylgjast með framhaldinu og óska ykkur af heilum hug velfarnaðar í þessu mikilvæga verkefni.</span></p>
24. apríl 2019Blá ör til hægriÁvarp utanríkisráðherra á ráðstefnu Alþjóðamálastofnunar Háskóla Íslands um alþjóðlega samvinnu, Alþjóðasamvinna á krossgötum: Hvert stefnir Ísland?<p><strong>Alþjóðasamvinna á krossgötum: Hvert stefnir Ísland?</strong></p> <p><strong>Norræna húsinu, 24. apríl 2019<br /> </strong></p> <p><strong>Ávarp Guðlaugs Þórs Þórðarsonar, utanríkisráðherra</strong><br /> <br /> Ágætu fundargestir,<br /> <br /> Mér er ánægja að bjóða ykkur velkomin í Norræna húsið í dag. Utanríkisþjónustan hefur einsett sér að örva þjóðfélagsumræðu um utanríkismál og alþjóðasamvinnu og er samstarf utanríkisráðuneytisins og Alþjóðamálastofnunar liður í þeirri vinnu. <br /> <br /> Ég tel að alþjóðasamvinna standi raunverulega á krossgötum og þess sjást merki jafnt í norrænum og íslenskum stjórnmálum sem víðar í Evrópu og Norður-Ameríku. Það er mikilvægt að við hlúum að þeirri samvinnu sem okkur hefur reynst vel, beitum okkur fyrir umbótum þar sem þeirra er þörf og verðum áfram talsmenn þeirra gilda sem íslenskt samfélag byggir á.<br /> <br /> Í ár virðast allir vegir liggja til Reykjavíkur. Reglubundna formennsku Íslands í norrænu samstarfi og Norðurskautsráðinu ber upp á þessu ári auk þess sem við tökum við sæti Norðurlanda og Eystrasaltsríkja í stjórn Alþjóðabankans. Af þessu sést glöggt hversu veigamikil norræn samvinna er í okkar störfum. Norðurlöndin vinna saman í öllum þessum ráðum og stofnunum sem endurspeglast í yfirskrift norrænu formennskunnar: „Gagnvegir góðir“. <br /> <br /> Við það bætist að í fyrrasumar fékk Ísland víðtækan stuðning til að gegna veigameira hlutverki í mannréttindaráði Sameinuðu þjóðanna. Framganga Íslands í ráðinu hefur vakið athygli á heimsvísu og sýnir svo ekki verður um villst að lítil ríki geta haft áhrif. Það hefur komið mér þægilega á óvart hversu vel framlag okkar á alþjóðavísu er metið. Til okkar er horft þegar fjallað er um mannréttindi um allan heim, ekki síst þegar kemur að jafnrétti kynjanna. <br /> <br /> Það gildir um Norðurlöndin öll. Sameiginleg norræn gildi og menning varða veginn í norrænni samvinnu og þau eru samofin ímynd okkar og störfum á alþjóðavettvangi. Við höfum byggt upp samfélög þar sem einstaklingar njóta mannréttinda í ríkum mæli án tillits til kyns eða annarra þátta. <br /> <br /> Í samstarfi utanríkisráðherranna sem ég leiði í ár taldi ég brýnt að leggja áherslu á samskipti Norðurlandanna við Kína og mögulegt samstarf á sviði utanríkisviðskipta. Þá verður gerð úttekt á framkvæmd tillagna Thorvalds Stoltenbergs, fyrrverandi utanríkisráðherra Noregs, um aukið samstarf Norðurlandanna í utanríkis- og öryggismálum og það skoðað hvort óska eigi eftir tillögum um frekara samstarf til næstu tíu ára. <br /> Góðir gestir,<br /> <br /> Aldarafmæli fullveldisins á síðasta ári varð okkur öllum tilefni til að líta yfir farinn veg og hugleiða þær miklu framfarir sem hafa orðið á þessum tíma. Þær hefðu aldrei getað orðið án virkrar þátttöku í alþjóðasamstarfi, ekki síst í líflegum utanríkisviðskiptum. <br /> <br /> Ísland hefur alla tíð lagt sitt af mörkum til þeirrar almennu ríkjasamvinnu sem varð að veruleika í kjölfar síðari heimsstyrjaldarinnar og þannig höfum við kosið að tilheyra hópi lýðræðisríkja Evrópu, Norður-Ameríku og annarra vestrænna ríkja. Sú samvinna virðist æ mikilvægari þegar hún er sett í samhengi við strauma og stefnur víðs vegar um heim. <br /> <br /> Ég þreytist ekki á að minna á hversu mikilvæg alþjóðalög og virkt alþjóðlegt samstarf eru smáum herlausum ríkjum eins og Íslandi. Með störfum okkar á vettvangi Sameinuðu þjóðanna og annarra alþjóðastofnana stöndum við vörð um þjóðarétt sem er grundvallarforsenda í samskiptum ríkja og samstaða vestrænna ríkja er þar sannarlega mikilvæg. Kjarninn í alþjóðlegu samstarfi Íslands á sviði öryggis- og varnarmála er svo aðild okkar að Atlantshafsbandalaginu, sem nýverið fagnaði 70 ára afmæli.<br /> <br /> Það er kannski mergur málsins. Við þurfum ekki að velja hvort við tökum virkan þátt í störfum alþjóðastofnana eða vinnum náið með stærri ríkjum. Síður en svo. <br /> Náin samvinna við Bandaríkin, sem og Bretland og Þýskaland, innan og utan alþjóðastofnana hefur reynst okkur afar vel. Árangursríkar samningaviðræður við bresk stjórnvöld í tengslum við Brexit, fyrirhugað viðskiptasamráð og náið varnarsamstarf milli Bandaríkjanna og Íslands, auk tíðra funda með ráðherrum Bretlands og Bandaríkjanna, gefa eru skýrt merki um að svo megi verða áfram. <br /> <br /> Alþjóðlegt samstarf er einnig lykillinn að sjálfbærni og friðsæld á norðurslóðum. Ísland hefur lengi talað gegn frekari hervæðingu á norðurskautinu og vaxandi hernaðarumsvif Rússa á svæðinu vekja því nokkurn ugg. Þrátt fyrir núning í samskiptum vesturvelda við Rússa hefur tekist að byggja upp mikilvægan samstarfsvettvang Norðurskautsráðsins. <br /> <br /> Aðildarríkin vinna saman að því að takast á við þær fjölmörgu áskoranir sem felast í hröðum breytingum á svæðinu vegna hlýnunar jarðar. Með sjálfbæra þróun að leiðarljósi mun íslenska formennskan í Norðurskautsráðinu meðal annars beina kastljósinu að málefnum hafsins, loftslagsmálum og endurnýjanlegri orku, auk stuðnings við samfélög á norðurslóðum. <br /> <br /> Þá má ekki gleyma því að utanríkisviðskipti byggja einnig á alþjóðlegu samstarfi og regluverki. Mikið er rætt um að þessi öld verði öld Asíu enda eykst hagsæld þar hratt og íbúum fjölgar. Ég hef leitast við að funda með kollegum mínum í stærstu ríkjum Asíu í þeim tilgangi að liðka fyrir viðskiptum. Þannig hefur okkur meðal annars tekist að koma á samkomulagi sem greiðir fyrir beinum flugsamgöngum milli Íslands og Japans og öðru samkomulagi um tímabundin atvinnuréttindi ungs fólks í Japan og á Ísland, auk annars samkomulags sem greiðir fyrir útflutningi íslenskrar landbúnaðarvöru til Kína. Utanríkisþjónustan er í dag með sendiráð í þessum tveimur löndum, auk Indlands. Þar vinnur starfsfólk okkar að því að aðstoða íslensk fyrirtæki við að opna á ný tækifæri á þessum fjarlægu mörkuðum, auk þess að kynna íslenska menningu og samfélag fyrir heimafólki.<br /> <br /> Á vettvangi EFTA hefur svo tekist að semja um fríverslun við fjörutíu ríki víðsvegar um heim, nú síðast við Indónesíu. Við tökum einnig þátt í rekstri norrænna nýsköpunarsetra í bæði Hong-Kong og Singapore sem opna leiðir fyrir íslensk fyrirtæki á þessa markaði. Við merkjum aukinn áhuga ríkja eins og Singapore á Íslandi, en þar spilar staða okkar innan norðurslóða stórt hlutverk. <br /> <br /> Góðir gestir,<br /> <br /> Það er vel við hæfi að unga fólkið hefji leikinn hér í dag. Eins og ég sagði í upphafi, þá stöndum við á krossgötum. Framtíðin er unga fólksins og þau hafa tækifæri til að hafa áhrif á hvernig sú framtíð verður. Ætlum við að aðlaga lífsstílinn til að koma í veg fyrir að verstu spár um loftslagsbreytingar rætist? Ætlum við að standa vörð um alþjóðlega samvinnu sem hefur vísað veginn til velsældar allt frá lokum síðari heimsstyrjaldarinnar? Eða ætlum við jafnvel að hverfa frá samstarfi sem hefur þjónað hagsmunum Íslands undanfarinn aldarfjórðung?<br /> <br /> Ég hef áður rætt um EES-kynslóðina, unga fólkið sem man ekki eftir sér öðruvísi en innan Evrópska efnahagssvæðisins. Þar eru reglurnar neytandanum í vil, íslensk fyrirtæki keppa jafnfætis evrópskum á einum stærsta neytendamarkaði í heimi og íslensk ungmenni geta farið til náms og starfa innan svæðisins og notið þar sömu réttinda og innfæddir. <br /> <br /> Ég er þess fullviss að unga fólkið er jafnsannfært og ég um mikilvægi alþjóðlegrar samvinnu. Nú þegar angar erlendrar einangrunarstefnu teygja anga sína inn í íslensk stjórnmál er nauðsynlegt að slá skjaldborg um þá samvinnu. <br /> <br /> Breiðfylking íslenskra stjórnmálamanna, fjölmiðlafólks, háskólafólks og almennings, hefur að undanförnu sýnt samstöðu og ljáð alþjóðlegri samvinnu rödd og andlit. Í áherslum okkar er blæbrigðamunur, og stundum rúmlega það, en mér virðist meirihluti þings og þjóðar ætla að standa saman gegn öflum sem vilja grafa undan EES-samningnum á því sem eru í besta falli illa ígrundaðar forsendur – ef ekki af hreinum ásetningi. <br /> <br /> Í þessu sambandi er mikilvægt að hafa hugfast að samningurinn hefur skilað almenningi og fyrirtækjum gríðarlegum ávinningi án þess að Ísland hafi þurft að fórna sínum hagsmunum svo nokkru nemi. Íslenska sjávarútvegsstefnan, ein aðalundirstaða hagsældar okkar, stendur sem fyrr óhögguð og á forsendum Íslands. Að sama skapi tekur landbúnaðarstefna okkar mið af íslenskum aðstæðum. Við erum ekki hluti af tollabandalagi sambandsins og getum stundað frjáls viðskipti og gert fríverslunarsamninga við þá sem okkur sýnist. <br /> <br /> Alþjóðleg samvinna og virk hagsmunagæsla er undirstaða þess að lífskjör og tækifæri hérlendis geti áfram orðið með því sem best sem gerist í heiminum. Þar er samstarfið innan Evrópska efnahagssvæðisins lykilþáttur, sem og vestræn samvinna í þágu öryggis. Síðast en ekki síst felur þátttaka í alþjóðlegri samvinnu í sér viðurkenningu erlendra ríkja á því að Ísland sé frjálst og fullvalda ríki. Undir minni forystu verður áfram gefið í en ekki dregið úr, þegar kemur að alþjóðlegri samvinnu.</p> <br />
13. apríl 2019Blá ör til hægriRæða utanríkisráðherra á fundi hóps smáríkja innan Alþjóðabankans <p>Thank you Chair.</p> <p> It is an honour and pleasure for me to be invited to make some remarks at this Small States Ministerial roundtable, in particular focusing on the Blue Economy.&nbsp;</p> <p>The Blue Economy concept is not very old but is now a widely used term for economic activity, growth and development related to oceans, seas and coasts.&nbsp;</p> <p>A sustainable blue economy can provide small states, especially large ocean nations, with a greener more competitive economy.&nbsp;</p> <p>In this regard I particularly like the definition by the World Bank, referring to it as the "sustainable use of ocean resources for economic growth, improved livelihoods, and jobs while preserving the health of ocean ecosystem." Which is fully in line with the aims and objectives of SDG 14.</p> <p>This definition describes in many ways the history of the economic development of Iceland. In short, we became both sovereign and a wealthy nation by sustainably using our fisheries resources. However, this is not only a historical fact, sustainable use of our ocean resources will also be a major part of our future prosperity.&nbsp;</p> <p>We need to take seriously the challenges the ocean faces, with environmental degradation, the impacts of climate change, marine pollution and growing populations. At the same time, we must realize the opportunities that healthy oceans and sustainable use of its resources can provide.&nbsp;</p> <p>We need to approach this in a holistic way in partnership with all actors, on the local, regional and global level. At the global level let me, in particular, mention the World Bank and FAO which are increasingly stepping up to play the role we expect of them.</p> <p>In its dialogue with the World Bank, Iceland has consistently made the case for a bigger engagement in all aspects of the ocean economy, but notably in sustainable fisheries. We therefore note with pleasure the Bank’s growing emphasis on the oceans and its resources, with the ProBlue initiative now emerging as a flagship programme and we are proud to be one of ProBlue´s core members. We also welcome the growing interest in the special challenges of SIDS member countries.</p> <p>In our bilateral collaboration with the Bank we have also been experiencing significant and growing interest in making use of the knowledge we have to offer. We are glad to be able to share our experience in this area with other countries.&nbsp;</p> <p>We have learnt that successes will only be achieved through science and research, innovation, collaboration and investment - and through the common understanding that value is more important than volume when it comes to the sustainability of our ocean resources.</p> <p>There are great opportunities in the transition towards a greener or, in our case a bluer, economy. There is increasing global demand for quality and innovative products and services that emphasize sustainability and circularity - it makes good business sense.&nbsp;</p> <p>The oceans are of crucial importance for any meaningful discussion on climate change and they have too often been on the margins instead of in the center. Therefore, we need to bring climate aspects into the ocean agenda and, more importantly, bring ocean aspects into the climate agenda.&nbsp;</p> <p>We must also acknowledge that to ensure the future of a sustainable Blue Economy we need serious actions in dealing with marine pollution, including solutions on plastic pollution. Iceland strongly supports this agenda and we realize that this poses great threats not the least to small island developing nations, the large ocean nations that are most reliant on healthy oceans.&nbsp;&nbsp;</p> <p>I would like to emphasize that partnership is essential in tackling these issues. This cannot be solved locally in a global economy. In oceans without physical borders, we must act together on a regional and global scale when making necessary changes to the usual way of doing business.</p> <p>This is a common task and common responsibility for all of us, islands and land locked countries, small states and large.</p> <p>I thank you for your attention.</p>
12. apríl 2019Blá ör til hægriRæða ráðherra á stofnviðburði mannréttindasjóðs Alþjóðabankans<p><span>Ræða<br /> Stofnviðburður nýs mannréttindasjóðs Alþjóðabankans (Human Rights and Development Trust fund (HRDTF))<br /> 12. apríl 2019<br /> <br /> Madame Bachelet,&nbsp;<br /> Madame Okoro,&nbsp;<br /> Madame Pazarbasioglu&nbsp;<br /> Fellow Governors and donors of the Human Rights and Development Trust Fund,&nbsp;<br /> Ladies and Gentlemen,&nbsp;<br /> <br /> Let me start by congratulating the World Bank Group on the establishment of the new Human Rights and Development Trust Fund. I think this is a testament to the commitment of the World Bank to a more human-rights centred development. I am glad to witness human rights occupy a more ambitious and visible space within the Bank‘s agenda.&nbsp;<br /> <br /> Human rights are deeply integrated within Iceland’s foreign policy, as we believe that promoting and safeguarding human rights underpin our well-being and prosperity. For the first time, Iceland is now also explicitly implementing a human-rights based approach in its development cooperation, and our support to this trust fund aligns very well with our policy.&nbsp;<br /> <br /> We are also proud to have been elected to serve on the Human Rights Council last year, as a first-time member but also the smallest country to be elected to the Council. We are adamant to use this important platform for the short time we have this seat, to debate and actively advocate for the advancement of human rights.&nbsp;</span></p> <p><span>I can also assure you that we will continue to keep the international organisations that we work with and support accountable to treat all human beings free and equal in dignity and rights. The accumulated knowledge of the past 10 years of the predecessor of the new fund, the Nordic Trust Fund, has given the Bank a further understanding on the importance of human rights to development.</span></p> <p><span>For example, on how sexual orientation and gender identity rights; sexual and reproductive rights and gender-based violence interconnect with development. That will no doubt serve the new trust fund well and lead to further application of human rights-based projects in the World Bank´s operations.&nbsp;</span></p> <p><span>It is with sincere pleasure and sense of duty that Iceland has participated in the establishment of the new trust fund and we are happy to be one of its founding donors. I wish the new Human Rights and Development Trust Fund and its team all the best and I hope that we will see more countries, North and South, join as donors. May its operations fuel a renewed focus on a human rights-based approach to development within the Bank.&nbsp;</span></p> <p><span>Congratulations once more.&nbsp;<br /> Thank you.<br /> <br /> <br /> </span></p>
04. apríl 2019Blá ör til hægriÓrofa samstaða í sjötíu ár<p><span><br /> Fyrir réttum sjötíu árum komu fulltrúar tólf þjóða saman í Washington í Bandaríkjunum og horfðu til óvissrar framtíðar. Evrópa var að rísa úr öskustó áralangra stríðshörmunga með gríðarlegu mannfalli og hryllilegum óhæfuverkum. Fornir fjendur höfðu snúið bökum saman til að sigrast á gerræði nasismans og vinaþjóðir í Norður-Ameríku barist við hlið Evrópubúa til að tryggja lýðræðislega framtíð. Nú hafði álfunni hins vegar verið skipt upp á milli austurs og vesturs, járntjald hafði verið dregið upp frá Eystrasalti í norðri að Adríahafi í suðri, kalt stríð stórveldanna var skollið á.&nbsp;<br /> <br /> Þjóðirnar tólf sem stofnuðu með sér Atlantshafsbandalagið 4. apríl 1949 voru staðfastar og stórhuga.&nbsp; Eins og fornir kappar sórust þessi sjálfstæðu lýðræðisríki í fóstbræðralag og hétu því að árás á eitt þeirra jafngilti árás á þau öll.&nbsp;&nbsp;<br /> <br /> Það var stórt og áræðið skref fyrir hið unga lýðveldi Ísland að vera eitt þessara tólf ríkja. Auk þess var Ísland var eina herlausa ríkið og Bjarni Benediktsson, þáverandi utanríkisráðherra,&nbsp; áréttaði í undirritunarávarpi sínu að svo yrði áfram. Ákvörðun ríkisstjórnarinnar var ekki óumdeild.&nbsp; Tekist var harkalega á bæði innan og utan þinghússins þessa síðvetrardaga árið 1949. Deilurnar um aðildina að Atlantshafsbandalaginu urðu svo að bitbeini í íslenskum stjórnmálum næstu áratugi. Íslenskir ráðamenn þess tíma vildu leggja fortíðina að baki, nýlendutíma, konunglegt yfirvald, ömurð, fátækt og hernám – nýtt lýðveldi horfði hnarreist fram á veginn, þjóð meðal þjóða.&nbsp;<br /> <br /> Að fortíð skal hyggja ef framtíð á að byggja. Hver er staðan í dag? Hvar stendur Ísland í heimsmynd öryggis- og varnarmála? Bandalagið sem gerðumst á sínum tíma stofnendur að hefur bæði vaxið að styrk og umfangi. Ríki Austur-Evrópu sem mynduðu Varsjárbandalagið, meðal annars til höfuðs Atlantshafsbandalaginu, leystu það upp fyrir um þremur áratugum og hafa síðan gengið unnvörpum til liðs við Atlantshafsbandalagið og vestræna samvinnu. Þannig hefur bandalagsríkjunum fjölgað í 29, brátt þrjátíu, þegar Norður-Makedónía verður tekin í hópinn.<br /> <br /> Atlantshafsbandalagið hefur fyrst og fremst það markmið að tryggja varnir bandalagsríkjanna, hvers og eins og sameiginlega. Auk þess gegnir það enn veigamiklu hlutverki við að tryggja frið á Balkanskaga og stuðlar að uppbyggingu, stöðugleika og borgaralegri yfirstjórn öryggismála í stríðshrjáðum samstarfsríkjum. Atlantshafsbandalagið vinnur með Sameinuðu þjóðunum og í umboði þeirra. Ekki má gleyma að okkar norrænu vinaþjóðir utan bandalagsins, Svíþjóð og Finnland, starfa eins náið með bandalaginu og mögulegt er án fullrar aðildar. Það kom glögglega ljós á Trident Juncture 2018, vel heppnaðri varnaræfingu sem fór meðal annars fram hér á landi í fyrrahaust.&nbsp;<br /> <br /> Ísland leggur sitt af mörkum í starfi innan bandalagsins og í verkefnum þess til að tryggja langtímafrið og lýðræði, ekki síst með jafnrétti og mannréttindi að leiðarljósi. Þessi gildi verða alltaf grundvöllur okkar framlags og þátttöku, sem fer ávallt fram á borgaralegum forsendum eins og áréttað er í þjóðaröryggisstefnu fyrir Ísland.&nbsp;</span></p> <p><span>Erfitt er að spá fyrir um hvað framtíðin ber í skauti sér&nbsp; Við horfum til gríðarlegra tækninýjunga, framþróunar og stökkbreytinga í öryggismálum, vörnum, aðgengi að upplýsingum, tækni og búnaði. Við höfum allan heiminn innan seilingar, en á sama tíma virða ógnir og áskoranir engin landamæri, flæða á milli heimshluta í netheimum eða upplýsingasamfélagi þar sem hefðbundinn viðbúnaður eða varnir eru aðeins brot af stærri mynd þjóðaröryggis. </span></p> <p><span>Eitt er þó víst að hér eftir sem hingað til felst bæði öryggi og stöðugleiki í aðild Íslands að Atlantshafsbandalaginu sem hefur gegnt lykilhlutverki í að tryggja frið í okkar heimshluta allt rá stofnun. Skrefið sem ríkisstjórn okkar unga lýðveldis tók fyrir sjötíu árum reyndist því mikið heillaskref.&nbsp;&nbsp;<br /> </span></p> <div><em>Birt í Morgunblaðinu 4. apríl 2019</em></div>
27. mars 2019Blá ör til hægriÍ forystu í mannréttindaráðinu <span>Ísland var í forystu 36 aðildarríkja Sameinuðu þjóðanna fyrr í þessum mánuði þegar fastafulltrúi okkar í mannréttindaráðinu flutti sameiginlegt ávarp um ástand mannréttindamála í Sádi-Arabíu. Þetta framtak markar þáttaskil því á vettvangi ráðsins hefur aldrei náðst slík samstaða um gagnrýni á sádiarabísk stjórnvöld. Þau hafa ekki aðeins hafa gengist við morðinu á blaðamanninum Jamal Khashoggi heldur fangelsa þau einnig konur (og karla) fyrir það eitt að beita sér fyrir bættum réttindum kvenna í landinu.&nbsp;<br /> <br /> Mannréttindi eru hornsteinn í utanríkisstefnu Íslands. Við erum stolt af því að hafa látið verkin tala, jafnvel þorað á meðan aðrir þegja, og vonum að gagnrýnin skili árangri. Ekkert er gefið í þeim efnum – en dropinn holar steininn. Frelsi og mannréttindi eru forsendur velsældar og um leið einn helsti mælikvarði hennar. Það á við um Sádi-Arabíu eins og önnur ríki.<br /> <br /> Ísland hefur tekið virkan þátt í störfum mannréttindaráðsins frá kosningunni í fyrrasumar. Á dögunum sótti ég í þriðja sinn svonefnda ráðherraviku, fyrstur íslenskra utanríkisráðherra. Ýmislegt má bæta í starfsemi ráðsins og talar Ísland áfram fyrir umbótum og breytingum á starfsháttum þess.&nbsp;&nbsp;<br /> <br /> Margt er hins vegar vel gert. Mannréttindaráðið afgreiddi 29 ályktanir í lok fyrstu fundarhrinu ársins í vikunni sem leið. Þar ber einna hæst sérstaka ályktun um mannréttindaástandið í Níkaragva. Hin ályktunin er söguleg og fjallar um konur og stúlkur í íþróttum. Þar ályktar ráðið í fyrsta sinn um réttindi fólks með óhefðbundin kyneinkenni og áréttar að einstaklingar eigi ekki að þurfa að undirgangast ónauðsynlegar aðgerðir. Einnig samþykkti ráðið ályktanir sem sneru að stöðu mannréttinda í Íran, Sýrlandi og Mjanmar, svo dæmi séu tekin. Ísland studdi þessar ályktanir með virkum hætti og lagði ennfremur lóð á vogarskálar við samþykkt ályktunar um vernd þeirra sem berjast fyrir mannréttindum er tengjast umhverfismálum.<br /> <br /> Ísland lætur skýrt að sér kveða í störfum mannréttindaráðsins og er öflugur málsvari mannréttinda. Af því er ég stoltur.<br /> </span> <div>&nbsp;</div> <p><em>Birt í Fréttablaðinu 27. mars 2019.</em></p>
13. mars 2019Blá ör til hægriEES og atvinnulífið: ræða utanríkisráðherra á morgunfundi utanríkisráðuneytisins, Samtaka atvinnulífsins og Alþýðusambands Íslands um EES-samstarfiðEES OG ATVINNULÍFIÐ<br /> MORGUNFUNDUR UTANRÍKISRÁÐUNEYTISINS, ÁSAMT SA OG ASÍ<br /> 13. MARS 2019<br /> <br /> ÁVARP UTANRÍKISRÁÐHERRA<br /> <br /> Góðir gestir.<br /> <br /> Ég ætla að hefja þennan fund á því að fullyrða að EES-samningurinn sé mikilvægasti viðskiptasamningur sem við Íslendingar höfum gert og ég held því raunar fram að EES-samningurinn sé einn allra mikilvægasti alþjóðasamningur í sögu okkar sem fullvalda þjóðar.<br /> <br /> Um þessar mundir er aldarfjórðungur liðinn frá því að EES-samningurinn tók gildi. <br /> Þetta er langur tími í sögu okkar sem fullvalda þjóðar. Það er áhugaverð staðreynd að um þriðjungur Íslendinga er fæddur eftir gildistöku samningsins og líklegt er að stór hluti landsmanna muni vart eftir lífinu fyrir tilkomu EES. Þetta er EES-kynslóðin ef svo mætti að orði komast. <br /> <br /> Við höfum á síðustu 25 árum notið ríkulega góðs af kostum EES-samningsins. Þá er ég ekki bara að vísa til aukningar í landsframleiðslu og ráðstöfunartekna einstaklinga samhliða stórauknum útflutningi og utanríkisverslun almenn, heldur einnig umbætur á laga- og samkeppnisumhverfi, bæði fyrir neytendur og atvinnulífið, sem við í dag teljum sjálfsagðar, að ónefndum fjölmörgum tækifærum á sviði vísinda-, rannsókna og menntamála. <br /> <br /> Við teljum þetta í dag svo sjálfsagt.<br /> <br /> Og kannski er lykilhugtakið hér sjálfsagt. Hvort sem horfum á málin sem atvinnurekendur eða launþegar, sem innflytjendur eða útflytjendur, sem fræðimenn eða námsmenn, þá er svo margt í okkar umhverfi og í daglegu lífi sem við teljum sjálfsagt en er í reynd grundvallað á þeim réttindum sem við njótum samkvæmt EES-samningnum.<br /> <br /> Þessi staða er alltaf hættuleg. Þegar við teljum eitthvað sjálfsagt eða sjálfgefið þá erum við aldrei nær því að missa það frá okkur.<br /> <br /> Og hvað er það sem við eigum á hættu að missa?<br /> <br /> EES-samningurinn felur í sér nánast óheftan aðgang að einum stærsta markaði heims.<br /> <br /> EES-samningurinn felur í sér að íslensk fyrirtæki keppa á jafnræðisgrundvelli við evrópsk fyrirtæki.<br /> <br /> EES-samningurinn felur í sér niðurfellingu toll og afnám tæknilegra viðskiptahindrana.<br /> <br /> EES-samningurinn felur í sér að Íslendingar geta búið og unnið hvar sem er á EES-svæðinu.<br /> <br /> Þetta er að hluta til ávinningur okkar af EES-samningnum. En hvert er gjaldið? Fengum við allt fyrir ekkert, eins og sagt var á sínum tíma?<br /> Kannski ekki, en sú lýsing er þó ekki mjög fjarri lagi.<br /> <br /> Á sama tíma og við tökum þátt í innri markaði Evrópu hefur okkur tekist að standa utan við þau svið þar sem við teljum hagsmuni okkar ekki ganga saman við ESB. Íslenska sjávarútvegsstefnan, sem er ein aðalundirstaða hagkerfis okkar, lifir góðu lifi á okkar eigin forsendum. Sömuleiðis höldum við uppi landbúnaðarstefnu sem hentar séraðstæðum Íslands. <br /> <br /> Við erum ekki hluti af tollabandalagi sambandsins og við getum stundað frjáls viðskipti og gert fríverslunarsamninga við þá aðila sem okkur sýnist.<br /> <br /> EES-samningurinn þýðir í raun að Evrópumarkaðurinn er okkar kjölfestumarkaður. <br /> Óheftur aðgangur að kjölfestumarkaði okkar, innri markaði Evrópu, hefur veitt okkur frelsi og áræði til að afla nýrra markaða fyrir vörur okkar og þjónustu. Innri markaðurinn er kjölfestan og stöðugleikinn um leið og við leitum tækifæra á nýmörkuðum.<br /> <br /> Og vegna þess að við stöndum fyrir utan tollabandalagið getum við leitað nýrra tækifæra í þeim mörkuðum sem nú eru að vaxa hraðast.<br /> <br /> Ágætu fundargestir.<br /> <br /> EES-samningurinn á sér óvildarmenn og hefur átt um nokkurt skeið. Vegna þess hve góður samningurinn er og hversu vel hann tryggir íslenska hagsmuni, er hann helsta hindrunin í vegi þeirra sem vilja að Ísland gangi í tollabandalag Evrópusambandsins með fullri aðild að sambandinu. Ef EES-samningsins nyti ekki við, ættu sjónarmið þessara hagsmunaafla greiðari leið að íslensku þjóðinni.<br /> <br /> Með markvissum og þaulskipulögðum hætti hafa ESB-sinnar hér á landi reynt að grafa undan EES-samningnum. Skýrasta dæmið um rangfærslur í þessu skyni eru linnulausar fullyrðingar um að við Íslendingar innleiðum 80-90 prósent af löggjöf Evrópusambandsins.<br /> <br /> Og af því að við gerum það, þá gætum við allt eins verið í Evrópusambandinu og haft þá bein áhrif á mótun löggjafarinnar.<br /> <br /> Þessu er ítrekað haldið fram og klifað á þessari tölu, 80-90%. Á fyrsta ári mínu sem utanríkisráðherra lét ég gera úttekt á þessu og þá kemur í ljós, svart á hvítu, að frá gildistöku samningsins árið 1994 og til ársloka 2016 þurftum við Íslendingar að innleiða 13,4% af gerðum Evrópusambandsins.<br /> <br /> Þá er því einnig ranglega haldið fram að undir EES-samninginn falli öll helstu málefnasvið ESB og við séum því hvort eð er nánast inni í sambandinu en án áhrifa. Þetta er líka fullkomlega rangt. Mestu skiptir fyrir okkur að við erum ekki hluti af sameiginlegu sjávarútvegsstefnunni sem enginn getur lengur mælt bót. <br /> <br /> En þar fyrir utan þá erum við laus við stefnu ESB þegar kemur að landbúnaði/dreifbýlisþróun, skattamálum, gjaldmiðilssamstarfi, byggðastefnu, réttarvörslu, dóms- og innanríkismálum, tollabandalagi, utanríkistengslum, öryggis- og varnarmálum, fjárhagslegu eftirliti, framlagsmálum og stofnunum, svo eitthvað sé nefnt.<br /> <br /> Af 34 köflum ESB löggjafarinnar, þá eru 10 kaflar að fullu hluti af EES-samningnum og 13 kaflar standa alfarið fyrir utan.<br /> <br /> Í stuttu máli erum við aðilar að því sem hentar okkur best en það sem okkur yrði mest íþyngjandi stendur fyrir utan. Þetta er það sem menn áttu við þegar þeir lýstu samningnum sem „allt fyrir ekkert.“<br /> <br /> Linnulausar rangfærslur ESB-sinna víkja ekki staðreyndum til hliðar. Innganga í ESB myndi þýða að við tækjum upp 100% af ESB gerðum en ekki 13,4%. Innganga í ESB myndi þýða að allir 34 málaflokkar ESB ættu við um okkur en ekki þeir sem okkur eru hagfelldastir.<br /> <br /> Staðreyndin er sú að við erum aðilar að sérsniðnum samningi sem hentar íslenskum hagsmunum ákaflega vel. <br /> <br /> EES-samningurinn er þannig þyrnir í augum þeirra sem eiga þann draum stærstan og mestan að ganga inn í tollabandalag ESB.<br /> <br /> En á allra síðustu misserum hefur þessum óvildarmönnum EES-samningsins borist liðsauki, og sá liðsauki er heldur betur úr óvæntri átt. Hreyfing sem lengst af barðist gegn inngöngu Íslands í ESB hefur nú beint spjótum sínum að EES-samningnum og finnur honum allt til foráttu. Því er haldið fram að samningurinn feli í sér skerðingu á fullveldi Íslands og honum verði að segja upp.<br /> <br /> Það er kaldhæðnislegt að ESB-sinnar og þessir sjálfskipuðu fullveldisverðir hafi sameinast um að koma EES-samningnum fyrir kattarnef. Þótt endamarkið sé ekki hið sama hjá þessum hópum hafa þeir sameiginlega hagsmuni af því að ryðja EES-samningnum úr vegi.<br /> <br /> Ef þessum hreyfingum tekst sameiginlegt ætlunarverk sitt þá stöndum við Íslendinga frammi fyrir tveimur kostum þegar kemur að því að tryggja hagsmuni okkar á þessum kjölfestumarkaði okkar í Evrópu.<br /> <br /> Annars vegar með inngöngu í ESB með öllu því sem aðild fylgir, þ.á m. sameiginlegu sjávarútvegsstefnunni og tollabandalaginu. Hinn kosturinn væri tvíhliða samningur við Evrópusambandið. <br /> <br /> Við sjáum hvernig fimmta stærsta efnahagsveldi heims, Bretlandi, gengur að gera tvíhliða samning við ESB. <br /> <br /> Dettur einhverjum í hug að Ísland gæti upp á eigin spýtur náð samningi við ESB um sambærileg eða betri kjör en þau sem við njótum samkvæmt EES-samningnum? Og höfum í huga að kjör eru ekki bara tollaprósentur. Fyrir íslenskan útflutning til Evrópu skipta tæknilegar hindranir mun meira máli í flestum tilvikum.<br /> <br /> Það er í þessu sambandi fyllsta ástæða til að rifja upp og taka undir orð þáverandi forsætisráðherra, Davíðs Oddssonar, þegar EES-samningurinn var í höfn, að við hefðum aldrei náð viðlíka samningi nema í samfloti með öðrum EFTA-ríkjum. Þau sannindi áttu við þá og þau eiga við í dag enn frekar.<br /> <br /> En þýðir þetta að EES-samningurinn sé fullkominn og hafinn yfir gagnrýni?<br /> <br /> Nei, svo sannarlega ekki.<br /> <br /> Við eigum stöðugt að leita leiða til að bæta framkvæmd hans og sníða af honum þá ágalla sem fyrir kunna að finnast. Á síðustu tveimur árum höfum við verið að efla hagsmunagæslu okkar við mótun löggjafar sem tekin er upp í EES-samninginn. Við höfum staðið vörð um tveggja stoða kerfi EES-samningsins sem felur í sér að við höfum okkar eigin eftirlitsstofnun og okkar eigin dómstól. Þetta eru öflugar stofnanir sem eiga að njóta trausts sem undirstaða samningsins.<br /> <br /> Ég vék að því áður að ekkert gerist sjálfkrafa og það er á okkar ábyrgð að nýta þau mörgu tækifæri sem EES-samningurinn veitir okkur. Öflug þátttaka og virk hagsmunagæsla eru lykillinn að árangri í EES-samstarfinu, eins og á öðrum alþjóðlegum vettvangi. Það þýðir ekki að sitja á hliðarlínunni þó að samningurinn sé okkur hagfelldur. <br /> <br /> Það verður að leggja sérstaka áherslu á öfluga hagsmunagæslu á fyrri stigum löggjafarferlis ESB, þegar besta tækifærið gefst til að hafa áhrif á löggjöfina.<br /> <br /> Við þurfum að standa vörð um tveggja stoða kerfið sem var og er grundvallarforsenda fyrir EES-samningnum. Þótt vissulega sé svigrúm til að finna sameiginlegar lausnir þá verðum við að halda fast um taumana í þessu efni.<br /> Við þurfum enn frekar að gæta okkar hagsmuna þegar kemur að framlögum til uppbyggingarsjóðs EES en ESB hefur þar gengið á lagið með sífellt auknum kröfum.<br /> <br /> Það er einnig okkar markmið að koma á fullri fríverslun með fisk en ESB hefur þráast við að fella niður tolla á tilteknar fiskafurðir.<br /> Við þurfum einnig að gera ríkari kröfu á að innleiðing ESB-gerða sé samræmd á EES-svæðinu, en sterkar vísbendingar eru uppi um að brotalamir séu á efnislegri innleiðingu í ákveðnum ESB-ríkjum.<br /> <br /> Með bættri framkvæmd samningsins þá getur Ísland skapað sér betri stöðu til að fá undanþágur eða sértækar aðlaganir á löggjöf ESB þar sem miklir hagsmunir eru í húfi. Sú ríkisstjórn sem nú situr hefur sett á oddinn að hrinda í framkvæmd endurbótum á framkvæmd EES-samningsins og við vinnum nú eftir markvissri aðgerðaráætlun. <br /> <br /> Góðir gestir.<br /> <br /> Utanríkisráðuneytið, í samstarfi við önnur ráðuneyti, hefur unnið markvisst að því að endurbæta framkvæmd EES-samningsins. Áþreifanlegar tillögur í því efni voru settar fram í skýrslu sem ég lagði fram í apríl 2018 og voru þær samþykktar í ríkisstjórn. Ég vil nefna nokkur dæmi um þætti í endurbótastarfinu og árangurinn af þeim:<br /> <br /> 1) EES-gagngrunnurinn sem við erum að opna almenningi í dag en grunnurinn hefur verið í notkun sem hópvinnutæki stjórnsýslunnar nú um nokkurt skeið. Með þessum bættu vinnubrögðum er innleiðingarhalli Íslands kominn niður í 0.5% samkvæmt nýbirtu frammistöðumati ESA. Þetta er besti árangur Íslands frá upphafi mælinga.<br /> <br /> Með opnun gagnagrunnsins gefst tækifæri fyrir okkur öll, stjórnsýsluna, Alþingi og hagsmunaaðila, til að nýta hann sameiginlega til að fylgjast með tillögum að lagasetningu sem gætu síðar haft áhrif á íslenskt samfélag.<br /> <br /> Árangur næst best með samhentu átaki okkar allra. EES-gagnagrunnurinn hefur nýst vel til þess til að bæta skilvirkni stjórnsýslunnar í EES-málum. Með opnum hans getum nú unnið enn betur að því að bera kennsl á veigamestu málin sem varða Ísland og móta afstöðu til þeir<br /> <br /> 2) Í öðru lagi vil ég nefna forgangslista ríkisstjórnarinnar sem nú er samþykktur árlega. Þar eru tilgreind þau mál í lagasetningarferli hjá ESB sem metin eru sem forgangsmál út frá íslenskum hagsmunum. Sérstaklega er fylgst með þeim málum og tryggt að sjónarmiðum íslenskra stjórnvalda sé komið á framfæri. Til að svo megi verða verður auknu fjármagni varið til starfsemi sendiráðs Íslands í Brussel og fulltrúum fagráðuneyta fjölgað þar, til að sinna þessari bráðnauðsynlegu hagsmunagæslu. Þetta er afar brýnt.<br /> <br /> Á næstu dögum verða drög að nýjum forgangslista ríkistjórnarinnar 2019 kynnt til leiks. Eins og í fyrra, er mikilvægt að hagsmunaaðilar komi athugasemdum á framfæri, ef með þarf. Þetta fyrirkomulag reyndist vel í fyrra og sýnir hversu mikilvægt er að við vinnum saman að hagsmunum okkar. Forgangslistinn er góð umgjörð um stærstu hagsmunamálin. En við þurfum að gera enn betur.<br /> <br /> 3) Þriðja dæmið sem mig langar að nefna er þátttaka í nefndastarfi ESB. Við eigum að leggja sérstaka áherslu á öfluga hagsmunagæslu á fyrstu stigum löggjafarferils ESB. Innan ESB starfa meira en 600 nefndir og vinnuhópar sem við eigum rétt á að taka þátt í samkvæmt EES-samningum (fyrir utan fjölda óformlegra hópa). Bróðurparturinn af gerðunum sem við tökum upp í samninginn er meðhöndlaður í þessum nefndum. Unnið er að því að kortleggja þessar nefndir á öllum sviðum EES-samningsins til að skera úr um því hvaða nefndum við þurfum að taka þátt í og hvaða nefndum við getum sleppt.<br /> <br /> 4) Fjórða og síðasta dæmið um umbætur sem við höfum unnið að er áhersla á að fjölga fulltrúum frá fagráðuneytum í Brussel. Þetta er afar mikilvægur þáttur, bæði til að sinna betur nefndaþátttöku hjá EFTA eða ESB og stofna til sambands við framkvæmdastjórnina, ráðið og Evrópuþingið á hinum ýmsu sviðum. Slíkt gerist ekki á einni nóttu. Það þarf að skapa tengsl og byggja upp traust til lengri tíma.<br /> <br /> Góðir fundargestir.<br /> <br /> Á tímamótum er gagnlegt að líta um öxl en ekki síður fram á veginn. Við eigum að keppa að því marki að gera enn betur þegar EES-samningurinn er annars vegar; við eigum að horfa gagnrýnum augum á okkar eigin verk og finna leiðir til að tryggja betri framkvæmd samningsins og skoða reglulega kosti og galla aðildar okkar að samningnum.<br /> <br /> Af þessari ástæðu ákvað ég í tilefni af skýrslubeiðni á Alþingi sl. vor að skipa starfshóp undir forystu Björns Bjarnasonar til vinna skýrslu um aðild Íslands að EES-samningnum og meta kosti og galla aðildar. Það er von mín að skýrsla starfshópsins lyfti umræðu um EES-samninginn á hærra plan en verið hefur síðustu misseri.<br /> <br /> Við skulum hafa í huga að stór hluti íslensku þjóðarinnar þekkir ekki tilveruna án þess að njóta þeirra réttinda sem EES-samningurinn kveður á um. Upplýst umræða um kosti og galla aðildar okkar að samningnum mun vonandi hrinda aðför þeirra ólíku hagsmunaafla sem nú hafa sameinast um að koma EES-samningnum fyrir kattarnef.<br /> <br /> Það var mikið gæfuspor á 75 ára afmæli fullveldisins að við skyldum nýta forræði okkar yfir eigin málum til að gera alþjóðasamning á okkar eigin forsendum, sérsniðinn að okkar hagsmunum. <br /> <br /> Ég er þess fullviss að málefnaleg og vönduð skoðun á 25 ára reynslu okkar af EES-samninginn mun sýna ótvíræðan ávinning af aðild okkar en jafnframt verða okkur hvatning til að bæta framkvæmd samningsins enn frekar.<br /> <br /> Ég þakka áheyrnina.<br /> <br />
12. mars 2019Blá ör til hægriRæða ráðherra við útskrift í Sjávarútvegsskóla Háskóla Sameinuðu þjóðanna<span>Dear fellows, director, teachers and staff of the United Nations University Fisheries Training Programme,<br /> ladies and gentlemen, dear friends.<br /> …<br /> I am very pleased to be given the opportunity to address this twenty-first graduation ceremony of the UNU Fisheries Training Programme in Iceland [UNU-FTP].<br /> I would like to congratulate all the twenty-four fellows who are graduating here today – 15 men and nine women from 15 countries in Africa, Asia, Oceania and the Caribbean. You have completed your training – and survived the darkest winter months on this small island in the north! Now as the days are getting longer in Iceland you will return to your home countries, with new experiences and ideas.&nbsp;<br /> My special thanks go to our distinguished director, Tumi, and his team for consistently working to strengthen and improve the programme, placing strong emphasis on practical training while helping fellows to strive for academic excellence. The scope of the Fisheries Training Programme has grown from six graduated fellows from three countries in its starting year in 1998 to a global network of four hundred fellows from over 60 countries at present.&nbsp;<br /> <br /> You can all be proud of the programme which serves as key competency centre for fisheries development and research drawing on Icelandic and international expertise from a wide network of partners from the private sector, government and research institutions. We are thankful to all these partners for sharing their knowledge and contributing to our international development efforts.&nbsp;<br /> <br /> Moreover, I want to commend Tumi and the staff for their increased focus on gender equality. Not only do they strive for gender-balance among fellows each year, but they have included gender equality into the curriculum of the training programme. This is very important as women globally account for about 50 percent of the workforce in fisheries and aquaculture, and yet, women in developing countries face substantial challenges to engage in and benefit equitably from these sectors. I look forward to seeing the UNU-FTP reach gender parity in the near future and for you as graduates to push the envelope further on gender aspects in the fisheries sector in your countries.<br /> …<br /> Fisheries are a vital source of food security and nutrition for many, not least vulnerable coastal and small island communities. Furthermore, over three billion people depend on marine and coastal biodiversity for their livelihoods. This we know very well in Iceland where fish has been the lifeline of the nation through the centuries, as its main food supply and its chief export product and the foundations for our economy.&nbsp;<br /> The Sustainable Development Goal 14 recognises the vital importance of the world’s oceans by calling for the conservation and sustainable use of marine resources. Through its training and capacity building activities in fisheries development, the Fisheries Training Programme makes an important contribution to achieving this goal, which is essential to reach several other SDGs and targets.&nbsp;&nbsp;<br /> Promoting the sustainable management and use of natural resources, in particular the fisheries resource, remains one of the key focus areas in Iceland’s international development cooperation – paving the way towards ending poverty, strengthening resilience and fighting inequality. Sustainable management of the fisheries is essential for any country to reach long term economic and social benefits in the sector and I emphasize the long-term vision of sustainable use as essential in this regard.&nbsp;<br /> To this end, institutional capacity building and transfer of knowledge and skills through the UNU training programmes will continue to play an important role in our development cooperation. Increased focus is being placed on seeking opportunities to further integrate their work with Iceland’s wider development efforts, thus linking capacity building to clear results.&nbsp;<br /> …<br /> Indeed, dear guests, I am pleased to tell you that earlier this year Iceland signed partnership agreements with the Governments of Liberia and Sierra Leone for development cooperation projects supporting SDG 14, which have been prepared in close collaboration with the World Bank. The projects take a holistic and integrated approach to sustainably improve livelihoods and conditions in targeted fishing communities in each respective country. The UNU-FTP is a strategic training partner in the projects, providing capacity building through taking in fellows from partner institutions in Liberia and Sierra Leone for the six months training programme, and building institutional capacity in management and fisheries related sectors.&nbsp;<br /> In fact, in this group of fellows graduating here today there are three from Liberia and two from Sierra Leone who will now be returning to their home countries, ready to get involved in the projects and working towards taking them forward.&nbsp;<br /> …<br /> Dear fellows,<br /> Allow me to congratulate you again on your graduation. Over the past six months you have undergone intensive training in your respective field. You have had the chance to share your experiences with each other, the hurdles you face in your work, and – importantly – offer and receive each other’s advice on how to overcome these.<br /> As countries continue to address the challenges of implementing the Agenda 2030 for Sustainable Development, learning will play an instrumental role, with knowledge, skills and attitudes being important drivers of change. All of you are equipped with these important instruments and can act as pioneers of change in your home countries, powering the transformation required to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals.<br /> <br /> Thank you.<br /> </span>
04. mars 2019Blá ör til hægriRæða ráðherra á málstofu um konur, viðskipti og lög<p><span>Ms. Kristalina Georgieva, interim President of the World Bank Group</span></p> <p><span>Your excellency, Minister of Development Cooperation of Denmark, Ms. Ulla Törnæs</span></p> <p><span>Other distinguished participants,</span></p> <p><span>Ladies and Gentlemen,&nbsp;</span></p> <p><span>It is my pleasure to welcome you to this launching event for the 2019 Report on Women, Business and the Law. We are pleased to be able to partner with the World Bank on this important matter and welcome all the distinguished speakers.</span></p> <p><span>Gender equality is one of the corner stones of Iceland´s foreign policy. Iceland contributes actively to the promotion and protection of human rights, with emphasis on women's rights and equal opportunity for all, which are values that we Icelanders hold dear.&nbsp;</span></p> <p><span>Over the past few decades, we have witnessed increased respect for women's human rights and various legal reforms and gender-responsive policies. We have also seen active economic and political participation of women but in Iceland almost 80% of women participate in the workforce. All this combined has raised well-being and prosperity in Iceland.&nbsp;</span></p> <p><span>Without the women´s movement in this country and constant vigilance working on gender equality we would not have such a thriving society.</span></p> <p><span>In our international development cooperation, we put emphasis on gender equality and women´s empowerment as we strongly believe in gender equality as a human right and as a driver of economic and social development. It is our believe that by supporting countries towards gender equality, they will reap the benefits as a society.&nbsp;</span></p> <p><span>Iceland has collaborated with Malawi and Uganda, our partners in bilateral development cooperation, for over three decades and we continue to support their progress on women´s rights and empowerment.</span></p> <p><span>Without half the team, the game cannot be won. Therefore, we also actively work to engage men in the fight for gender equality.&nbsp;</span></p> <p><span>Iceland was a pioneer when it introduced exclusive paternity leave in the year 2000. It has changed norms and behaviour in a meaningful way and enabled men to engage in their children's early lives and at the same time been supportive to women´s constant participation in the labour market.&nbsp;</span></p> <p><span>A recent OECD report, commissioned by the Nordic Council of Ministers, shows that improvements in gender equality have contributed considerably to economic growth in the Nordic countries. It revealed that the steady increase of women in the labour market can account for 10-20% of the Nordic region's GDP per capita growth in the past 40-50 years.<br /> Today, most people agree that gender equality is a no-brainer and that discrimination against women should not exist.&nbsp;</span></p> <p><span>Still, complicated challenges remain, both in Iceland and in other parts of the world. In Iceland, we have put in place laws to ensure equal representation in boards, however this has yet to be translated into more female CEOs. We also have a new law to enforce a decade old legislation on equal pay, but we still need to address the labour market segregation that contributes largely to the absolute gender pay gap.&nbsp;</span></p> <p><span>It is good to take stock occasionally as we are about to do here today, and focus on how we tailor our national policies, so they advance gender equality. It is beneficial for us to discuss how we go from good policies to good practice.</span></p> <p><span>I commend the World Bank on the new report and the interim President for her commitment to gender equality within the World Bank Group. The Bank has done a good job in addressing women´s rights and their participation, voice and agency in the labour market.</span></p> <p><span>But we can always do more.</span></p> <p><span>The entire world has collectively agreed to aim for a gender equal world by 2030, through our shared Sustainable Development Goals.&nbsp;</span></p> <p><span>The equal participation of women at all levels, the respect for their human rights and the empowerment of women and girls will be fundamental to our success in reaching all the other goals.&nbsp;</span></p> <p><span>And now, it is my pleasure to welcome warmly the interim President of the World Bank Group, Ms. Kristalina Georgieva who will introduce the main findings of the Women, Business and the Law report.<br /> </span></p> <div>&nbsp;</div>
04. mars 2019Blá ör til hægriÁvarp á fundi um útgöngu Bretlands úr Evrópusambandinu<p><span>Formaður bresk-íslenska viðskiptaráðsins, formaður viðskiptaráðs, framkvæmdastjóri Samtaka verslunar og þjónustu, ambassador Nevin, góðir gestir.</span></p> <p><span>Viðfangsefni þessa fundar er svo sannarlega mikilvægt og mig langar – áður en ég vík að afstöðu og undirbúningi íslenskra stjórnvalda fyrir útgöngu Breta úr Evrópusambandinu – að þakka bresk-íslenska verslunarráðinu fyrir að standa fyrir þessum fundi og raunar Viðskiptaráði öllu fyrir að taka virkan þátt í þeirri samvinnu sem íslensk stjórnvöld hafa átt við íslenskt viðskiptalíf og fleiri hagsmunaaðila um viðbrögð og undirbúning fyrir Brexit.<br /> Allt frá því að úrslit þjóðaratkvæðagreiðslunnar í Bretlandi urðu ljós um sumarið 2016 hafa íslensk stjórnvöld unnið að því hörðum höndum að gæta hagsmuna Íslands og skilgreina skýr markmið út frá mismunandi sviðsmyndum&nbsp;</span></p> <p><span>Við höfum gert það í nánu samráði við Alþingi, hagsmunaaðila og í góðri samvinnu með hinum EFTA-ríkjunum, sérstaklega Noregi og Liechtenstein.</span></p> <p><span>Við höfum átt fjölda funda með breskum stjórnvöldum og einnig með ESB.&nbsp;<br /> <br /> Sjálfur hef ég átt á annan tug funda með breskum ráðherrum og öðrum hátt settum embættismönnum um Brexit og fundir íslenskra embættismanna með breskum kollegum telja nú vel á fimmta tuginn, og þá er eingöngu um að ræða formlega fundi. Óformlegir fundir, símtöl og önnur samskipti eru svo að segja óteljandi.</span></p> <p><span>Gríðarlega umfangsmikil upplýsingaöflun og greiningarvinna hefur farið fram í samstarfi við helstu hagsmunaðila.</span></p> <p><span>Þetta ætti að gefa einhverja vísbendingu um þann forgang sem undirbúningur fyrir Brexit hefur haft í utanríkisþjónustunni síðustu misseri.</span></p> <p><span>Góðir gestir.</span></p> <p><span>Ég hef sagt og segi enn að Brexit er ekki stórmál.&nbsp;</span></p> <p><span>Útganga Breta úr Evrópusambandinu felur vissulega í sér áskoranir og flókin úrlausnarefni.&nbsp;<br /> En þegar maður setur Brexit í samhengi við önnur viðfangsefni ríkja á alþjóðavettvangi, þá eru engar forsendur fyrir þeim harmkvæðum og heimsendaspám sem því miður hafa litað alla umræðu um Brexit.</span></p> <p><span>En þið megið ekki misskilja mig.&nbsp;</span></p> <p><span>Brexit er&nbsp; auðvitað mikilvægt viðfangsefni – og þannig höfum við nálgast málið í utanríkisráðuneytinu frá því að ég tók þar við og það var gert af hálfu forvera míns líka.&nbsp;<br /> Við höfum lagt áherslu á að afla gagna og upplýsinga, á greiningarvinnu og kortlagningu íslenskra hagsmuna. Við höfum líka horft á málin út frá lausnum og tækifærum. Þessi vinna hófst í ráðuneytinu um leið og niðurstaðan um Brexit lá fyrir í júní 2016 og henni hefur verið haldið áfram.</span></p> <p><span>Það þjónar ekki íslenskum hagsmunum að horfa á Brexit sem heimsendi.</span></p> <p><span>Jóhanna mun hér á eftir fara nánar yfir það hvernig íslensk stjórnvöld hafa hagað undirbúningi sínum vegna Brexit en ég vil þó segja nokkur orð um málið almennt.</span></p> <p><span>Ég tók við embætti utanríkisráðherra 11. janúar 2017 og hef síðan þá átt fjölmarga fundi með breskum ráðamönnum, hátt settum aðilum innan ESB og ráðherrum aðildarríkja ESB. Á flestum þessara funda hefur Brexit borið á góma með einum eða öðrum hætti.<br /> <br /> Það sem upp úr stendur í mínum huga, eftir öll þessi samtöl og þau sjónarmið sem ég hef hlustað á, er sú staðreynd, að hagsmunir Bretlands og ESB ríkjanna standa eindregið til þess að útganga Breta hafi ekki í för með sér viðskiptahindranir milli þessara aðila.</span></p> <p><span>Allir munu tapa á því.</span></p> <p><span>Það er eðlilegt að fólk hafi áhyggjur á þessum óvissutímum. Þá er mikilvægt að hafa í huga að íslensk og bresk stjórnvöld vinna að því hörðum höndum að tryggja eins hnökralaus viðskipti hægt er, sama hvernig útgöngu verður háttað.</span></p> <p><span>Það er líka rétt að við séum öll meðvituð um það, að ekki er hægt að sjá fyrir hið ófyrirsjáanlega. Og þess vegna ríður á því að stjórnvöld og atvinnulífið séu sameiginlega í stakk búin að takast á við breytingar í þeim tilvikum þar sem EES-samningurinn mun ekki lengur gilda, og þá vonandi einungis til skamms tíma.</span></p> <p><span>Við skulum líka hafa í huga að samskipti Breta og Íslendinga eiga sér sögulegar rætur. Bretar og Íslendingar hafa stundað viðskipti frá örófi alda og menningartengsl milli þjóðanna eru mikil og djúpstæð. Allt þetta skiptir máli þegar kemur að því að leysa sameiginleg viðfangsefni – mæta áskorunum saman.</span></p> <p><span>Góðir gestir.</span></p> <p><span>Ég hef sagt að Brexit sé eins og hjónaskilnaður. Það þýðir ekkert að velta fyrir sér af hverju og hvers vegna. Skilnaður er niðurstaða. Hvort skilnaður leiðir til góðs eða ills fer alfarið eftir því hvernig aðilar nálgast málin og hvort þeir geta sett sameiginlega hagsmuni ofar öllu.<br /> Vandinn við Evrópusambandið að þar eru enn 27 makar eftir í hjónabandinu. Ef einhver þeirra sér að Bretlandi farnast betur eftir skilnaðinn þá fara þeir að hugsa sér til hreyfings. Og Brussel má ekki hugsa til þess.</span></p> <p><span>Að öðru leyti ætla ég að láta öðrum eftir bollaleggingar um þessi mál.&nbsp;</span></p> <p><span>Minn forgangur í málinu hefur verið skýr: Brexit er veruleiki, hvernig tryggjum við íslenska hagsmuni sem best við þessar kringumstæður?</span></p> <p><span>Frá upphafi hafa stjórnvöld sett fram þrjár skýrar sviðsmyndir sem stjórnsýslan vinnur eftir:</span></p> <p><span>1.&nbsp;Að gerður verði djúpur og víðfeðmur efnahags- og samstarfssamningur við Bretland sem undirstrikar náin tengsl landanna á helstu sviðum.</span></p> <p><span>2.&nbsp;Að EFTA-ríkin fjögur (Ísland, Noregur, Liechtenstein og Sviss) eða EFTA-ríkin þrjú innan EES (EFTA-ríkin utan Sviss) semji í sameiningu við Bretland þegar það á við og samræmist hagsmunum Íslands.</span></p> <p><span>3.&nbsp;Að samningur við Bretland taki mið af samningum ESB og Bretlands þegar það á við og samræmist hagsmunum Íslands.</span></p> <p><span>Við skulum hafa í huga að hver þessara leiða útilokar ekki aðra. Á sumum sviðum gæti þannig verið æskilegt að gera sameiginlegan samning með hinum EFTA-ríkjunum innan EES sem endurspeglar samning Bretlands og ESB. Á öðrum sviðum gæti aftur á móti verið ákjósanlegt að gera tvíhliða samning á milli Íslands og Bretlands.</span></p> <p><span>Óháð því hvaða leið verður farin er ljóst að með útgöngu Bretlands úr ESB verður vendipunktur í samskiptum Íslands og Bretlands.&nbsp;</span></p> <p><span>Viðskipta- og efnahagssamstarfið hefur á síðustu 23 árum nær alfarið byggst á EES-samningnum og nú stendur Bretland ásamt samstarfslöndum frammi fyrir því að móta samskiptin á nýjum grunni. Þetta felur í sér tækifæri og möguleika til að þróa áfram samskiptin milli Íslands og Bretlands, báðum löndum til hagsbóta. Bretland er ekki aðeins nágrannaríki Íslands í Atlantshafinu heldur eitt stærsta hagkerfi heims og viðskiptaveldi sem hefur metnað til að ryðja brautina í alþjóðlegri fríverslun.</span></p> <p><span>Á grundvelli þessara mismunandi sviðsmynda höfum við sagt að verkefni íslenskra stjórnvalda sé þríþætt:</span></p> <p><span>Í fyrsta lagi að tryggja, í samvinnu við Noreg og Liechtenstein, að atriði í útgöngusamningi Bretlands og ESB sem varða innri markaðinn gildi líka um Ísland og hin EFTA-ríkin innan EES. Þá höfum við gert ráðstafanir til þess að EES-samningurinn og aðrir samningar Íslands við ESB geti gilt um Bretland fyrst eftir útgöngu.</span></p> <p><span>Í öðru lagi höfum við unnið að framtíðar efnahags- og samstarfssamningi við Bretland sem nær yfir viðskipti og önnur atriði sem falla í dag undir EES-samninginn. Formlegar viðræður um slíkan samning gætu hafist á fyrirhuguðu bráðabirgðatímabili.</span></p> <p><span>Í þriðja lagi höfum við hugað vandlega að því hvernig megi auka og styrkja tvíhliða samstarf Íslands og Bretlands á ýmsum sviðum eins og til dæmis í öryggis- og varnarmálum en gagnkvæmur vilji er fyrir því.</span></p> <p><span>Að tryggja að samskipti milli Íslands og Bretlands verði snurðulaus er stórt verkefni en úrsögnin felur jafnframt í sér tækifæri á þeim sviðum sem samningar ESB hafa gilt um samskiptin.&nbsp;</span></p> <p><span>Jafnvel þótt EES-samningurinn feli í sér góð viðskiptakjör fyrir útflutning til Bretlands og að stærstur hluti íslensks útflutnings til Bretlands njóti annað hvort tollfrelsis eða tollaívilnana þá tryggir EES-samningurinn ekki fullt tollfrelsi í viðskiptum með sjávarafurðir.&nbsp;</span></p> <p><span>Á viðskiptasviðinu er því ljóst að með úrsögn Breta úr ESB skapast nýtt tækifæri til að tryggja betri viðskiptakjör fyrir okkar helstu afurðir inn til Bretlands og ESB með lægri tollum.</span></p> <p>Frá fyrsta degi höfum við lagt mikla áherslu á að þetta verkefni sé unnið í nánu samstarfi stjórnvalda og atvinnulífs, og eftir atvikum annarra aðila sem hagsmuna hafa að gæta.</p> <p>Það er reyndar rauður þráður í mínum áherslum að fá atvinnulífið til liðs við stjórnvöld þegar kemur að hagsmunagæslu á erlendum vettvangi.</p> <p>Í ársbyrjun 2017 var skipaður Brexit-stýrihópur utanríkisráðuneytisins, sem og fimm vinnuhópar til að skilgreina markmið Íslands fyrir framtíðarviðræður við Bretland.&nbsp;</p> <p><span>Í nóvember 2017 var birt viðamikil skýrsla sem byggði á þessu starfi og greindi hagsmuni Íslands við útgöngu Breta úr EES samhliða útgöngu þeirra úr ESB.&nbsp;</span></p> <p><span>Þá hafa vinnuhóparnir haldið áfram greiningarvinnu sinni sem miðar að því að skila helstu markmiðum og forgangsröðun samningsatriða þegar kemur að fyrirkomulagi framtíðarviðskipta Íslands og Bretlands.&nbsp;</span></p> <p><span>Vinnuhóparnir hafa átt samráð við fulltrúa ólíkra atvinnugreina við að kortleggja stöðuna og skilgreina samningsmarkmið Íslands.</span></p> <p><span>Ég tel að okkur hafi tekist vel í þessu samstarfi við hagsmunaaðila og þetta eigi í raun að vera fyrirmynd að því hvernig við mótum stefnu okkar og áherslur þegar kemur að utanríkisviðskiptastefnu.</span></p> <p><span>Góðir gestir.</span></p> <p><span>Brexit er ekki heimsendir en við höfum engu að síður tekið þetta verkefni föstum tökum og erum vel í stakk búin að mæta þeim áskorunum sem útganga Breta hefur í för með sér.</span></p> <p><span>Hvort sem Bretar ganga úr Evrópusambandinu án samnings eða ekki þá höfum við búið svo um hnútana að sem minnst röskun verði á samskiptum okkar við Bretland, hvort sem í hlut eiga fyrirtæki eða einstaklingar.<br /> </span></p> <div>&nbsp;</div>
26. febrúar 2019Blá ör til hægriRæða utanríkisráðherra í mannréttindaráði SÞ fyrir hönd NB8-ríkjanna gegn dauðarefsingumHuman Rights Council<br /> Geneva, 26 February 2019<br /> Biennial high-level panel discussion&nbsp;<br /> on the question of the death penalty<br /> Theme: Human rights violations related to the use of the death penalty, in particular with respect to the rights to non-discrimination and equality<br /> <br /> STATEMENT BY H.E. GUÐLAUGUR ÞÓR ÞÓRÐARSON,&nbsp;<br /> MINISTER FOR FOREIGN AFFAIRS OF ICELAND,&nbsp;<br /> ON BEHALF THE NORDIC-BALTIC STATES<br /> <br /> Mr. President,&nbsp;<br /> <br /> I am honoured to deliver this intervention on behalf of the Nordic-Baltic States: Denmark, Estonia, Finland, Latvia, Lithuania, Norway, Sweden and my own country Iceland.<br /> <br /> We thank the panellists for their interventions. We reiterate our strong opposition to the death penalty in all circumstances. The death penalty constitutes a violation of the right to life and its abolition is necessary for the enhancement of human dignity and the progressive development of human rights.<br /> <br /> We are alarmed by the evidence of discriminatory use of the death penalty against persons belonging to racial and ethnic minorities or based on gender or sexual orientation. The disproportionate impact of its use on persons in vulnerable and marginalized situations is particularly troubling.<br /> <br /> When the UDHR was adopted, only 16 countries had abolished the death penalty. Today, more than two-thirds of the countries in the world have abolished it in law or practice. This represents a huge positive shift in the global outlook.<br /> <br /> It is therefore deeply worrying that some States are now choosing to go against this global trend by resuming executions. Imposition of death sentences for any offence, including drug offences, is incompatible with the fundamental tenets of human rights.<br /> <br /> Instead of resuming executions, authorities should focus on evidence-based approaches to crime prevention in conformity with international human rights law. Moreover, States providing bilateral technical assistance to combat drug crime must ensure that the programmes, to which they contribute, do not result in violations of the right to life.<br /> <br /> In closing, we would like to ask the panel to share best practises in addressing the discriminatory use of the death penalty against women, especially linked to adultery.<br /> <br /> Thank you.<br />
26. febrúar 2019Blá ör til hægriÁvarp utanríkisráðherra á framlagaráðstefnu vegna Jemen<span>Ávarp utanríkisráðherra á framlagaráðstefnu vegna Jemen, 26. febrúar<br /> <br /> Ladies and Gentlemen,<br /> <br /> We gather here in Geneva today, one day after the opening of the fortieth session of the Human Rights Council in this same building. It should remind us that the Yemen crisis is not only a humanitarian crisis of the greatest magnitude, it is also a most urgent human rights issue.<br /> <br /> Years of conflict has brought upon the people of Yemen the most devastating consequences; displacement, economic and institutional collapse, hunger, disease and death. This conflict is man-made and completely unnecessary, which makes it even worse.&nbsp;<br /> <br /> We must do all we can to bring the conflict in Yemen to an end. Thankfully, there have been some positive signs in recent weeks and months, and I applaud the efforts of the United Nations, and the disputing parties, for their endeavour.&nbsp;<br /> <br /> Ladies and Gentlemen,<br /> <br /> The need for funding, to alleviate the suffering of the people in Yemen, is obvious and Iceland wants to do its part and respond to the dire humanitarian needs.<br /> <br /> Last October I announced a contribution of 820.000 US Dollars, which has already been allocated to UNICEF and World Food Programme. Today, I am pleased to announce that we provided, in January, a further contribution of 300.000 US Dollars to UNFPA, and will be pledging a further 250.000 Dollars to the same Agency - to be allocated in the coming weeks. This bring us, in total, to over 1.3 million US Dollars overall in the space of only a few months.&nbsp;<br /> <br /> It is a well-known fact that in times of crisis, women and girls become increasingly vulnerable to gender-based violence and exploitation as families and communities become dispersed and chaotic conditions contribute to a sense of lawlessness. It is, therefore, critical to provide funding for humanitarian actors such as the UNFPA that play a leading role in protecting women and girls from gender-based violence and in maintaining their dignity and respect.<br /> <br /> In addition, we allocated part of our 2018 and 2019 budgets in support of civil society organizations where the Icelandic Red Cross received 215.000 USD for projects in Yemen in 2018 and Save the Children another 170.000 USD for Yemen in 2019.&nbsp;&nbsp;<br /> <br /> Finally, my Government will be considering further funding for the Yemen crisis later this year and, more importantly, Iceland will continue to be an advocate for human rights and respect for human dignity - and support all efforts that may contribute to a political settlement and end the conflict in Yemen.&nbsp;<br /> <br /> Thank you.<br /> </span>
25. febrúar 2019Blá ör til hægriRæða Íslands í fertugustu fundarlotu mannréttindaráðs Sameinuðu þjóðanna<p>Human Rights Council<br /> Geneva, 25 February 2019<br /> Address by<br /> H.E Guðlaugur Þór Þórðarson<br /> Minister for Foreign Affairs of Iceland<br /> <br /> Mr./Madame President, Excellencies, ladies and gentlemen.<br /> &nbsp;<br /> When I addressed this chamber one year ago, I did not know that Iceland would soon after be elected to serve on the Human Rights Council. For Iceland, it was a proud moment, made even more meaningful as we celebrated 100 years of sovereignty in 2018. I thank you for your support.</p> <p>Mr./Madame President, I have sometimes been asked what useful purpose it serves to be a member of the Human Rights Council. There are those who deem it merely a talking shop. Others argue that the Council has been guilty of bias – that it spends too much time debating human rights violations in some countries, while ignoring similar or worse situations in others.</p> <p>My response is that yes, the Human Rights Council certainly has its flaws. For me though, the answer to the question is clearly not to disengage with the Council because of these imperfections, but rather to engage even more. Why? Because if it is broken, we need to fix it.&nbsp;</p> <p>This Council is and should be the primary arena for debating and advancing human rights at the national and international level.</p> <p>Most importantly, we must not forget that the Council has been successful on many fronts. Only last September, it came together to pass landmark resolutions on the dire human rights situations in Venezuela, Myanmar and Yemen.&nbsp;</p> <p>Similarly, the UPR has proven to be of utmost importance as it allows each Member State – even those that may think they are beyond reproach – to listen to the comments and questions of others, to receive criticism and recommendations to improve their human rights record.</p> <p>Overall, the Human Rights Council has proven to be a valuable platform for advocacy on behalf of those left voiceless and have their rights ignored or violated in all parts of the world.&nbsp;</p> <p>Nevertheless, and I want to stress this part: The Council could and should do even more, and Iceland will, for its part, strive to support efforts to that effect - in the session underway and in future sessions.&nbsp;</p> <p>Ladies and Gentlemen,</p> <p> When the Human Rights Council was established more than ten years ago, we made it clear that Council members should “uphold the highest standards in the promotion and protection of human rights” and “fully co-operate with the Council”.</p> <p> As a new member of the Council, and as a first-time member of the Council, Iceland has pledged to act in accordance with this standard. Regrettably, however, many Member States have proven unwilling to do the same. States which join the Council should lead by example and expect their own human rights record to be subject to particular scrutiny during their time as members.&nbsp;</p> We have in this body highlighted the situation in the Philippines, where reports of extrajudicial killings have reached new heights with some estimates up to 27.000 people killed with impunity. It is, therefore, a concern when a re-election to this Council is claimed to justify these killings as a legitimate part of the so called “war on drugs”.<br /> <br /> The question we must ask ourselves is whether we are not, by electing and re-electing countries to this Council that have less than stellar human rights records, to put it mildly – playing into the hands of those who argue and accuse this Council of not being a force for good but rather a protector of human-rights abusers.<br /> &nbsp;<br /> Mr./Madame President,<br /> <p> Iceland is not only a first-time member of the Human Rights Council, but also the smallest country to be elected to the Council. We believe more countries should be encouraged to serve as members, of all sizes and strength, to expand its reach and impact. We advocate for the full participation of small states from all corners of the world and hope our election can serve as an inspiration.&nbsp;&nbsp;</p> Large and powerful member states tend to run repeatedly for membership, thereby making it harder for smaller countries to gain a seat at the table. One could argue that this is the ultimate proof that the Council matters greatly, but on the other hand, this often blocks the way for others, including smaller members of the United Nations.<br /> <p> In our opinion, we ought to consider a rotational basis of membership and ensure that all those that desire to serve on the Council can do so. Human rights are universal and belong to all of us, big and small, and we should all be able to engage fully.</p> Mr./Madame President,<br /> <p> I would like to add my voice to those who have in this chamber expressed concern about the rising intolerance against migrants and minorities, also in mainland Europe. We also see a worrying trend in anti-Semitism and Islamophobia where individuals are targeted for hate and discrimination simply for their faith. We cannot return to our past of us versus them, of indiscriminate hate and fear.&nbsp;</p> I am also concerned about increasing repression, through arrests and detention of human rights defenders, journalists, lawyers and judges. Let me in this context draw attention to the independence of the judiciary in countries such as Turkey, where it has come under increased scrutiny, and call on the Turkish Government to ensure fair proceedings. <p>The brutal murder of journalist Jamal Khashoggi, which the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia has confirmed took place in its consulate in Istanbul, further highlights the plight of journalists and human rights defenders. Widespread arbitrary arrests, torture and the persecution of human rights defenders for peacefully exercising their fundamental rights is unacceptable – always and everywhere. I cannot mention Saudi Arabia without also stressing the urgent need for the Kingdom to improve the status of women’s human rights.&nbsp;</p> <p>We must also continue to advocate for political resolution of disputes; for the rights of all citizens to be upheld and, in the case of Venezuela, for the peaceful return to democracy – and for humanitarian assistance to be allowed to reach those in need.</p> <p>Finally, repeated reports of violence against lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex individuals, including in Chechnya and Tanzania are also of great concern to us.&nbsp; On this point, I want to highlight our pledge to put the human rights of LGBTI individuals in the forefront of our membership of the Human Rights Council.</p> <p>I am also pleased to announce Iceland´s intention to become a regular contributor to the Office of the Human Rights Commissioner´s work in this field. We got it right decades ago in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights when we set out that all human beings are born free and equal in dignity and rights. This means everyone, irrespective of their gender, sexual orientation or gender identity.</p> <p>I thank you.</p>
15. febrúar 2019Blá ör til hægriÁvarp utanríkisráðherra á blaðamannafundi utanríkisráðherra Íslands og BandaríkjannaBlaðamannafundur utanríkisráðherra Íslands og Bandaríkjanna<br /> Kaldalóni, Hörpu, 15. febrúar 2019<br /> <br /> Ávarp Guðlaugs Þórs Þórðarsonar utanríkisráðherra<br /> <br /> • Good afternoon everybody and thank you for coming to this press conference on the occasion of the visit of US Secretary of State, Michael Pompeo, to Iceland.<br /> <br /> • Iceland and the United States have for decades enjoyed a very close relationship – a true friendship.<br /> <br /> • 75 years ago, in 1944, the United States was the first country to recognise the Republic of Iceland, which meant a lot during times of war and we still are grateful for.<br /> <br /> • In fact, the United States entered the front-line of World War II in Iceland six months prior to Pearl Harbour.<br /> <br /> • Our countries are bound together by common heritage but also principles and values, which continue to be tested as we, together, face different regional and global challenges – values that we need to uphold and protect.<br /> <br /> • The ocean also connects us and today we discussed our continued good co-operation in the Arctic as Iceland assumes the Chairmanship in the Arctic Council in May – where sustainable development and ocean affairs will feature prominently.<br /> <br /> • As geography changes in the High North and the Arctic becomes more accessible through alternative transportation routes, we need to enhance our co-operation even further, for example in fields like search and rescue.<br /> <br /> • Iceland and the United States share strategic interests and today we talked about the upcoming NATO Ministerial meeting in Washington in April, where we will celebrate 70 years of successful transatlantic cooperation. <br /> <br /> • Our bilateral defence co-operation, which is based on our 1951 Defence agreement, also stands on strong footing and continues to evolve as security conditions call for.<br /> <br /> • The decade-long presence of US armed forces in Iceland left a lasting cultural legacy – we eat, watch TV and do our business more like Americans than most other European nations.<br /> <br /> • In a sense, we are a transatlantic nation, which brings me to trade and our people-to-people connections. <br /> <br /> • The United States is Iceland´s largest bilateral trading partner, and US travellers are the single largest group of visitors to Iceland. <br /> <br /> • Last year some 700.000 US tourists visited Iceland, or twice the size of our population, reflecting the relationship and frequent flight connections between our countries.<br /> <br /> • There is, however, still unrealized potential for trade in our commercial relationship and, today, we decided to establish an Economic Dialogue between Iceland and the United States to advance our bilateral economic co-operation further.<br /> <br /> • The Economic Dialogue will include bilateral discussions between government officials, but also private sector with the goal of boosting bilateral trade, investment and, importantly, private sector ties. <br /> <br /> • Dear Secretary, dear Mike, thank you for a fruitful meeting and visiting Iceland. I look forward to the continued co-operation and friendship between Iceland and the United States.<br /> <br /> <br /> <br />
14. febrúar 2019Blá ör til hægriÁvarp utanríkisráðherra á ársfundi Félags atvinnurekenda<p style="text-align: left;"><strong><span><strong>Ávarp utanríkisráðherra<br /> <em>Allir elska Ísland</em></strong></span></strong></p> <p style="text-align: left;"><strong>Ársfundur Félags atvinnurekenda<br /> 14. febrúar 2019<br /> </strong><br /> <br /> Ágætu fundargestir,<br /> <br /> Það er mér sönn ánægja að ávarpa ykkur hér í dag.<br /> <br /> Það er sérstaklega ánægjulegt að vera boðið að flytja erindi á fundi undir yfirskriftinni „Allir elska Ísland“. <br /> <br /> Ég tek mér það bessaleyfi að snúa erindisheitinu upp í spurningu og spyr:<br /> <br /> Elska allir Ísland?</p> <p style="text-align: left;">Á þessum degi elskenda er við hæfi að rifja upp að sínum tíma sungu þær Sigga Beinteins og Sigrúna Eva „Nei eða já“ í Söngvakeppni evrópskra sjónvarpsstöðva. Ég ætla að hlífa ykkur við söngröddinni en rétt eins og þær stöllur vil samt ég svara þessari spurningunni bæði játandi og neitandi. <br /> <br /> Fyrst að Já-inu. <br /> <br /> Í starfi mínu sem utanríkisráðherra síðastliðin tvö ár hef ég hitt fjölda ráðherra og framkvæmdastjóra alþjóðlegra stofnana og fyrirtækja og get ekki annað en fyllst stolti þegar ég finn hversu sterkt orðspor Íslands og Íslendinga er. Jákvæð athygli umheimsins í okkar garð er mikið ánægjuefni. </p> <p style="text-align: left;">Án efa hafa markaðsátök á borð við „Inspired by Iceland“ og „Iceland Naturally“ og vörumerki á borð við „Iceland“ og „Icelandic“ skipt miklu máli. </p> <p style="text-align: left;">Þau standa fyrir hágæða íslenskar afurðir í alþjóðlegu markaðsstarfi. Vörumerkin eru gæðastimpill á íslenskar útflutningsvörur og útflutningsþjónustu. Íslensk fyrirtæki geta tengt sig uppruna sínum og njóta góðs af jákvæðri ímynd landsins. Þetta virkar vegna þess að það er innistæða fyrir þessu. </p> <p style="text-align: left;">En það kemur margt fleira til en markaðsherferðir og sterk vörumerki. </p> <p style="text-align: left;">Orðspor Íslands verður til með samvinnu okkar allra. Hvert og eitt ykkar, og þar á meðal fyrirtæki á borð við geoSilika, Brugghús Borgar, Baseparking og Brauð &amp; co og önnur sem hér eru í dag, eiga sinn þátt í því.</p> <p style="text-align: left;">Þegar við eigum í samstarfi við erlend fyrirtæki eða tökum á móti erlendum gestum hér heima, hefur það áhrif. Þegar ungt námsfólk stundar nám erlendis og myndar þar tengslanet, þá telur það. Íslenskt listafólk og íþróttafólk ber hróður okkar um víða veröld og árangur okkar í jafnréttismálum er alkunna. </p> <p style="text-align: left;">Við þetta bætist svo allt það fólk sem starfar við það að koma fram fyrir Íslands hönd, hvort sem það erum við í utanríkisþjónustunni, samstarfsfólk okkar í öðrum ráðuneytum, Íslandsstofu, Kynningarmiðstöðvum listgreina eða aðrir. </p> <p style="text-align: left;">Í fyrra stóðu sendiráðin okkar fyrir mörg hundruð viðburðum til að vekja athygli á landi og þjóð, enda tvöföld ástæða til að fagna á því fullveldis- og knattspyrnuári. <br /> Íslandsstofa hratt af stað markaðsverkefninu „Team Iceland“ og með því voru sagðar örsögur af árangri Íslands á fullveldisöldinni undir merkjum „Hundred years of thinking differently“. </p> <p style="text-align: left;">Þarna reyndum við að svara heiðarlega og af óvanalegri hógværð spurningunni um hvernig okkur Íslendingum tókst, þrátt fyrir náttúruhamfarir, vosbúð, frostavetur og faraldra, að byggja upp nútímalegt og gott samfélag hér á hjara veraldar á einungis hundrað árum.</p> <p style="text-align: left;">Við eigum svo sannarlega nóg af sönnum, góðum sögum að segja: Af sjálfbærum sjávarútvegi, árangri í vísindum, nýsköpun og hátækni, endurnýjanlegri orku, menningu og listum, og síðast en ekki síst af jafnrétti. </p> <p style="text-align: left;">Gott orðspor Íslands á öllum sviðum skapar þannig bæði traust og aðdráttarafl, sem nýtist fyrirtækjum í sókn á markaði. En gott orðspor er ekki nóg til að halda uppi bestu lífsgæðum og stöðugum hagvexti á Íslandi – það þarf töluvert meira til. </p> <p style="text-align: left;">Ég hef ósjaldan vísað í McKinsey skýrsluna frá 2012 þar sem fram kemur að auka þurfi útflutning um einn milljarð í hverri viku. <br /> <br /> Og hér er ég komin að NEI-inu í erindi mínu í dag: <br /> <br /> Það elska ekki allir Ísland nógu mikið, eða hvað? </p> <p style="text-align: left;">Ef svo væri streymdu hingað alþjóðleg fyrirtæki og fjárfestar og við ættum jafnvel heimsþekkt stórfyrirtæki og vörumerki líkt og nágrannaþjóðir okkar, sem hefðu sterka alþjóðlega stöðu. Við erum því miður ekki nógu nálægt því að ná þessu markmiði.</p> <p style="text-align: left;">Staðreyndin er sú að undanfarin ár hefur heildarútflutningur aukist allt of lítið. Hluta skýringarinnar má rekja til óhagstæðrar gengisþróunar, en betur má ef duga skal.<br /> Utanríkisþjónustan þarf að gera sitt. Undanfarin tvö ár höfum við brett upp ermar og reynt að velta við öllum steinum í okkar leit. </p> <p style="text-align: left;">Í skýrslunni Utanríkisþjónusta til framtíðar sem kom út fyrir rúmu ári lögðum við fram yfir 150 tillögur um hvernig við getum gert betur, meðal annars í þágu íslenskra fyrirtækja á alþjóðavettvangi. Það er gaman að segja frá því að í dag höfum við framkvæmd 114 af 151 tillögu. </p> <p style="text-align: left;">Um þessar mundir stýrir Björn Bjarnason úttekt starfshóps stjórnvalda um kosti og galla EES aðildar. Ég er þess fullviss að sú úttekt muni leiða í ljós mikilvægi EES fyrir íslenskt atvinnulíf. </p> <p style="text-align: left;">Við höfum þegar ráðist í eflingu hagsmunagæslunnar á vettvangi EES til þess að koma sjónarmiðum Íslands betur á framfæri. Það er markmið hjá okkur, og ein af tillögunum, að EES-reglur verði innleiddar þannig að þær verði minna íþyngjandi fyrir íslenska hagsmunaaðila. Við höfum því breytt verklagi og komið upp vinnuferlum hjá ráðuneytum sem miða að því að sporna við því að innleiddar gerðir verði meira íþyngjandi en þörf er á. Dæmi eru nefnilega um að við höfum gengið lengra en þörf krefur við innleiðingu; vandað okkur of mikið. </p> <p style="text-align: left;">Við höfum eflt samráð við atvinnulífið um hvernig aðild aðalþjóðlegum viðskiptasamtökum og efnahags- og fjármálastofnunum geti betur þjónað því og hvaða viðskiptasamninga sé þörf til að opna nýja markaði fyrir íslensk fyrirtæki </p> <p style="text-align: left;">Ég hef sjálfur undirritað 20 nýja viðskiptasamninga og tekið upp viðskiptahagsmunamál okkar við fjölmarga ráðherra helstu samstarfsríkja Íslands, svo sem Bandaríkjanna, Bretlands, Frakklands, allra Norðurlandanna, Japans, Kína og Indlands, svo nokkur dæmi séu tekin. </p> <p style="text-align: left;">Ég hef farið fyrir viðskiptasendinefnum og opnað viðskiptaþing erlendis til að kynna íslenska vöru og þjónustu. Ég hef einnig setið ófáa fundi með forsvarsmönnum íslenskra fyrirtækja og samstarfsaðilum þeirra erlendis. </p> <p style="text-align: left;">Eitt mikilvægasta verkefnið sem við höfum komið í gegn er að hafa samþykkt lög um nýja Íslandsstofu, þar sem atvinnulífinu er gefin megin ábyrgð á að stýra ferðinni í eflingu markaðssetningar Íslands. Nýskipuð stjórn, nýráðinn framkvæmdastjóri og nýtt og skilvirkara skipulag gefa von um enn öflugri Íslandsstofu sem verði betur í stakk búin til að styðja við útflutning, fjárfestingar og markaðssetningu Íslands. Þetta verður gert í samstarfi við fjölmarga aðila og ekki síst utanríkisþjónustuna. <br /> <br /> Nú er unnið að undirbúningi langtímastefnu, í samstarfi við hagaðila, um nýja alþjóðlega sókn Íslands á markaði. Hér er áherslan ekki síst á að vinna með grasrótinni í atvinnulífinu. Unnið er að umfangsmikilli greiningu á samkeppnishæfni og sóknarfærum Íslands annars vegar og hins vegar á því hvernig efla megi stuðningskerfið sjálft, ekki síst úti á mörkuðum. <br /> <br /> Heimurinn er að breytast hratt, og miklu hraðar en flestir gera sér grein fyrir. Við sjáum að kínverska millistéttin telur brátt hálfan milljarð manna, og er nú þegar fjölmennari en íbúar Bandaríkjanna og Kanada samanlagt. Nýjar siglingaleiðir opnast brátt sem munu breyta mjög mynstri vöruflutninga og þjónustuverslun.</p> <p style="text-align: left;">Við þurfum því að halda árvekni okkar og sveigjanleika til að takast á við nýja tíma. Við þurfum að vinna öll saman að því að verja hagsmuni okkar en sýna jafnframt áræðni til að sækja á nýja markaði.</p> <p style="text-align: left;">„Nei eða já - af eða á? Erfitt er oft að finna svarið. Þó á ég von á því að finna það hjá þér.“ <br /> En það er einmitt hjá ykkur, kæru fundargestir, og þeim fyrirtækjum og stofnunum sem þið starfið hjá þar sem svörin verða til. Samvinnan við atvinnulífið og fyrirtækin er undirstaða þess að starf okkar á sviði viðskiptaþjónustu skili árangri. Megi það verða farsælt og öflugt, hér eftir sem hingað til. <br /> <br /> Ég þakka ykkur gott hljóð og óska ykkur góðs og elskulegs fundar. <br /> <br /> <br /> <br /> <br /> <br /> <br /> <br /> <br /> <br /> <br /> <br /> <br /> <br /> <br /> <br /> </p>
06. febrúar 2019Blá ör til hægriÁvarp á málstofu um áhrif EES-samningsins á íslenskt samfélag<p><span>Fundarstjóri, góðir gestir.</span></p> <p><span>&nbsp;</span>Samningurinn um evrópska efnahagssvæðið er mikilvægasti viðskiptasamningur okkar Íslendinga.&nbsp;</p> <p><span>Raunar má fullyrða að EES-samningur sé einhver mikilvægasti alþjóðasamningur sem við höfum gert.</span></p> <p><span>Það er því fullt tilefni fyrir þá aðila hér á landi sem láta sig alþjóðamál, stöðu Íslands og hagsæld þjóðarinnar varða, að lyfta umræðu um EES-samninginn upp á hærra plan en tíðkast hefur síðustu misserin.</span></p> <p><span>Ég vil því, áður en lengra er haldið, þakka Háskólanum í Reykjavík fyrir þetta framtak; að efla til fundahalda um áhrif EES-samningsins á íslenskt samfélag.</span></p> <p><span>Um þessar mundir er aldarfjórðungur liðinn frá því að EES-samningurinn tók gildi. Þetta er langur tími í sögu okkar sem fullvalda þjóðar.</span></p> <p><span>Í upphafi gerðu margir ráð fyrir því að EES-samningurinn yrði til bráðabirgða. Í dag er hins vegar orðið ljóst að samningurinn er öflugur grunnur fyrir þátttöku í innri markaði Evrópu á jafningjagrundvelli, fyrir þau ríki sem vilja standa utan ESB. Ef horft er til álfunnar í heild, og allra þeirra ríkja sem hafa ríka efnahagslega hagsmuni af samvinnu og góðum samskiptum innan Evrópu, má segja að EES sé tæki sem tekst að tryggja einstaklega farsæl samskipti.&nbsp;</span></p> <p><span>Þátttaka þriggja EFTA-ríkjanna í&nbsp; EES er þannig til vitnis um mikilsverðan árangur innan evrópsks samstarfs á breiðum grundvelli og ég tel að við getum verið stolt af því að sem við höfum áorkað þar.&nbsp;&nbsp;</span></p> <p><span>Það er áhugaverð staðreynd að um þriðjungur Íslendinga er fæddur eftir gildistöku samningsins og líklegt er að stór hluti landsmanna muni vart eftir lífinu fyrir tilkomu EES. Þetta er EES-kynslóðin ef svo mætti að orði komast.&nbsp;</span></p> <p><span>Við höfum á síðustu 25 árum notið ríkulega góðs af kostum EES-samningsins. Þá er ég ekki bara að vísa til aukningar í landsframleiðslu og ráðstöfunartekna einstaklinga samhliða stórauknum útflutningi og utanríkisverslun almennt.</span></p> <p><span>EES-samningurinn hefur einnig fært okkur umbætur á laga- og samkeppnisumhverfi, bæði fyrir neytendur og atvinnulífið, sem við í dag teljum sjálfsagðar, að ónefndum fjölmörgum tækifærum á sviði vísinda-, rannsókna og menntamála.&nbsp;</span></p> <p><span>Og kannski er lykilhugtakið hér sjálfsagt. Hvort sem horfum á málin sem neytendur, atvinnurekendur, innflytjendur, útflytjendur, launþegar, fræðimenn eða námsmenn, þá er svo margt í okkar umhverfi og í daglegu lífi sem við teljum sjálfsagt en er í reynd grundvallað á þeim réttindum sem við njótum samkvæmt EES-samningnum.<br /> <br /> Þessi staða er alltaf hættuleg. Þegar við teljum eitthvað sjálfsagt eða sjálfgefið þá erum við aldrei nær því að missa það frá okkur.</span></p> <p><span>Og hvað er það sem við eigum á hættu að missa?</span></p> <p><span>EES-samningurinn felur í sér nánast óheftan aðgang að einum stærsta markaði heims.</span></p> <p><span>EES-samningurinn felur í sér að íslensk fyrirtæki keppa á jafnræðisgrundvelli við evrópsk fyrirtæki á þeim sviðum sem samningurinn varðar. Á þessum sviðum er inn- og útflutningur frjáls innan efnahagssvæðisins.</span></p> <p><span>EES-samningurinn felur í sér niðurfellingu toll og afnám tæknilegra viðskiptahindrana sem hafa tvímælalaust haft jákvæð áhrif á helstu útflutningsgreinar okkar.</span></p> <p><span>EES-samningurinn felur í sér að Íslendingar geta búið og unnið hvar sem er á EES-svæðinu, og jafnvel notið elliáranna á Spáni kjósi þeir að gera það, enda tryggja reglur EES-samningsins samræmda og samfellda framkvæmd löggjafar á sviði almannatryggingar.</span></p> <p><span>EES-samningurinn felur í sér að einstaklingar og stofnanir geta tekið þátt í víðtækum samstarfsáætlunum EES og er ávinningur Íslands af þátttökunni er mun meiri en það sem lagt er til áætlananna.<br /> <br /> Þetta er að hluta til ávinningur okkar af EES-samningnum. En hvert er gjaldið? Fengum við allt fyrir ekkert, eins og sagt var á sínum tíma?</span></p> <p><span>Kannski ekki, en sú lýsing er þó ekki mjög fjarri lagi.</span></p> <p><span>Á sama tíma og við tökum þátt í innri markaði Evrópu hefur okkur tekist að standa utan við þau svið þar sem við teljum hagsmuni okkar ekki ganga saman við ESB.&nbsp; Íslenska sjávarútvegsstefnan, sem er ein aðalundirstaða hagkerfis okkar, lifir góðu lifi á okkar eigin forsendum. Sömuleiðis höldum við uppi landbúnaðarstefnu sem hentar séraðstæðum Íslands.&nbsp;</span></p> <p><span>Við erum ekki hluti af tollabandalagi sambandsins og við getum stundað frjáls viðskipti og gert fríverslunarsamninga við þá aðila sem okkur sýnist.</span></p> <p><span>EES-samningurinn þýðir í raun að Evrópumarkaðurinn er okkar kjölfestumarkaður. Óheftur aðgangur að kjölfestumarkaði okkar, innri markaði Evrópu, hefur veitt okkur frelsi og áræði til að afla nýrra markaða fyrir vörur okkar og þjónustu. Innri markaðurinn er kjölfestan og stöðugleikinn um leið og við leitum tækifæra á nýmörkuðum.</span></p> <p><span>Og vegna þess að við stöndum fyrir utan tollabandalagið getum við leitað nýrra tækifæra í þeim mörkuðum sem nú eru að vaxa hraðast.<br /> <br /> Ágætu fundargestir.</span></p> <p><span>EES-samningurinn á sér óvildarmenn og hefur átt um nokkurt skeið. Vegna þess hve góður samningurinn er og hversu vel hann tryggir íslenska hagsmuni, er hann helsta hindrunin í vegi þeirra sem vilja að Ísland gangi í tollabandalag Evrópusambandsins með fullri aðild að sambandinu. Ef EES-samningsins nyti ekki við ættu sjónarmið þessara hagsmunaafla greiðari leið að íslensku þjóðinni.</span></p> <p><span>Með markvissum og þaulskipulögðum hætti hafa ESB-sinnar hér á landi reynt að grafa undan EES-samningnum. Skýrasta dæmið um rangfærslur í þessu skyni eru linnulausar fullyrðingar um að við Íslendingar innleiðum 80-90 prósent af löggjöf Evrópusambandsins.<br /> Og af því að við gerum það, þá gætum við allt eins verið í Evrópusambandinu og haft þá bein áhrif á mótun löggjafarinnar.</span></p> <p><span>Þessu er ítrekað haldið fram og klifað á þessari tölu, 80-90%. Á fyrsta ári mínu sem utanríkisráðherra lét ég gera úttekt á þessu og þá kemur í ljós, svart á hvítu, að frá gildistöku samningsins árið 1994 og til ársloka 2016 þurftum við Íslendingar að innleiða 13,4% af gerðum Evrópusambandsins.</span></p> <p><span>Stærðfræði var aldrei mitt sterkasta fag en ég held að ekki þurfi að vera mikill ágreiningur um það að 13,4% er langt frá því að vera 80-90%. Hér er því um hreina og klára rangfærslu að ræða.</span></p> <p><span>Þá er því einnig ranglega haldið fram að undir EES-samninginn falli öll helstu málefnasvið ESB og við séum því hvort eð er nánast inni í sambandinu en án áhrifa.</span></p> <p><span>Þetta er líka fullkomlega rangt. Mestu skiptir fyrir okkur að við erum ekki hluti af sameiginlegu sjávarútvegsstefnunni sem enginn getur lengur mælt bót.&nbsp;</span></p> <p><span>En þar fyrir utan þá erum við laus við stefnu ESB þegar kemur að landbúnaði/dreifbýlisþróun, skattamálum, gjaldmiðilssamstarfi, byggðastefnu, réttarvörslu, dóms- og innanríkismálum, tollabandalagi, utanríkistengslum, öryggis- og varnarmálum, fjárhagslegu eftirliti, framlagsmálum og stofnunum.</span></p> <p><span>Af 34 köflum ESB löggjafarinnar, þá eru 10 kaflar að fullu hluti af EES-samningnum og 13 kaflar standa alfarið fyrir utan.</span></p> <p><span>Í stuttu máli erum við aðilar að því sem hentar okkur best en það sem okkur yrði mest íþyngjandi stendur fyrir utan. Þetta er það sem menn áttu við þegar þeir lýstu samningnum sem „allt fyrir ekkert.“</span></p> <p><span>Linnulausar rangfærslur ESB-sinna víkja ekki staðreyndum til hliðar. Innganga í ESB myndi þýða að við tækjum upp 100% af ESB gerðum en ekki 13,4%. Innganga í ESB myndi þýða að allir 34 málaflokkar ESB ættu við um okkur en ekki þeir sem okkur eru hagfelldastir.<br /> Staðreyndin er sú að við erum aðilar að sérsniðnum samningi sem hentar íslenskum hagsmunum ákaflega vel.&nbsp;</span></p> <p><span>En á allra síðustu misserum hefur þessum óvildarmönnum EES-samningsins borist liðsauki, og sá liðsauki er heldur betur úr óvæntri átt. Hreyfing sem lengst af barðist gegn inngöngu Íslands í ESB hefur nú beint spjótum sínum að EES-samningnum og finnur honum allt til foráttu. Því er haldið fram að samningurinn feli í sér skerðingu á fullveldi Íslands og honum verði að segja upp.</span></p> <p><span>Það er kaldhæðnislegt að ESB-sinnar og þessir sjálfskipuðu fullveldisverðir hafi sameinast um að koma EES-samningnum fyrir kattarnef. Þótt endamarkið sé ekki hið sama hjá þessum hópum hafa þeir sameiginlega hagsmuni af því að ryðja EES-samningnum úr vegi.<br /> Ef þessum hreyfingum tekst sameiginlegt ætlunarverk sitt þá stöndum við Íslendinga frammi fyrir tveimur kostum þegar kemur að því að tryggja hagsmuni okkar á þessum kjölfestumarkaði okkar í Evrópu.</span></p> <p><span>Annars vegar með inngöngu í ESB með öllu því sem aðild fylgir, þ.á m. sameiginlegu sjávarútvegsstefnunni og tollabandalaginu. Hinn kosturinn væri tvíhliða samningur við Evrópusambandið. Við sjáum hvernig fimmta stærsta efnahagsveldi heims, Bretlandi, gengur að gera tvíhliða samning við ESB.&nbsp;<br /> <br /> Dettur einhverjum í hug að Ísland gæti upp á eigin spýtur náð samningi við ESB um sambærileg eða betri kjör en þau sem við njótum samkvæmt EES-samningnum? Og höfum í huga að kjör eru ekki bara tollaprósentur. Fyrir íslenskan útflutning til Evrópu skipta tæknilegar hindranir mun meira máli í flestum tilvikum.</span></p> <p><span>Það er í þessu sambandi fyllsta ástæða til að rifja upp og taka undir orð þáverandi forsætisráðherra, Davíðs Oddssonar, þegar EES-samningurinn var í höfn, að við hefðum aldrei náð viðlíka samningi nema í samfloti með öðrum EFTA-ríkjum. Þau sannindi áttu við þá og þau eiga við í dag enn frekar.</span></p> <p><span>En þýðir þetta að EES-samningurinn sé fullkominn og hafinn yfir gagnrýni?</span></p> <p><span>Nei, svo sannarlega ekki.&nbsp;</span></p> <p><span>Við eigum stöðugt að leita leiða til að bæta framkvæmd hans og sníða af honum þá ágalla sem fyrir kunna að finnast. Á síðustu tveimur árum höfum við verið að efla hagsmunagæslu okkar við mótun löggjafar sem tekin er upp í EES-samninginn. Við leggjum alla áherslu á að standa vörð tveggja stoða kerfi EES-samningsins sem felur í sér að við höfum okkar eigin eftirlitsstofnun og okkar eigin dómstól. Þetta eru öflugar stofnanir sem eiga að njóta trausts sem undirstaða samningsins.</span></p> <p><span>Ég vék að því áður að ekkert gerist sjálfkrafa og það er á okkar ábyrgð að nýta þau mörgu tækifæri sem EES-samningurinn veitir okkur. Öflug þátttaka og virk hagsmunagæsla eru lykillinn að árangri í EES-samstarfinu, eins og á öðrum alþjóðlegum vettvangi. Það þýðir ekki að sitja á hliðarlínunni þó að samningurinn sé okkur hagfelldur.&nbsp;</span></p> <p><span>Það verður að leggja sérstaka áherslu á öfluga hagsmunagæslu á fyrri stigum löggjafarferlis ESB, þegar besta tækifærið gefst til að hafa áhrif á löggjöfina.<br /> <br /> Við þurfum að standa vörð um tveggja stoða kerfið sem var og er grundvallarforsenda fyrir EES-samningnum. Þótt vissulega sé svigrúm til að finna sameiginlegar lausnir þá verðum við að halda fast um taumana í þessu efni.</span></p> <p><span>Við þurfum enn frekar að gæta okkar hagsmuna þegar kemur að uppbyggingarsjóði EES.</span></p> <p><span>Það er einnig okkar markmið að koma á fullri fríverslun með fisk en ESB hefur þráast við að fella niður tolla á tilteknar fiskafurðir.</span></p> <p><span>Við þurfum einnig að gera ríkari kröfu á að innleiðing ESB-gerða sé samræmd á EES-svæðinu, en sterkar vísbendingar eru uppi um að brotalamir séu á efnislegri innleiðingu í ákveðnum ESB-ríkjum.&nbsp;Ég hvet íslenska fræðimenn til að skoða þau mál sérstaklega.&nbsp;</span></p> <p><span>Með bættri framkvæmd samningsins þá getur Ísland skapað sér betri stöðu til að fá undanþágur eða sértækar aðlaganir á löggjöf ESB þar sem miklir hagsmunir eru í húfi.&nbsp; Sú ríkisstjórn sem nú situr hefur sett á oddinn að hrinda í framkvæmd endurbótum á framkvæmd EES-samningsins og við vinnum nú eftir markvissri aðgerðaráætlun.&nbsp;<br /> <br /> Meðal átaksverkefna hefur verið ýtt úr vör að undanförnu til að bæta framkvæmd EES-samningsins er svokallaður EES-gagnagrunnur, sem er miðlægt hópvinnutæki stjórnsýslunnar. Til að auka gagnsæi og þekkingu á EES-málum stendur til að koma á fót upplýsingaveitu fyrir almenning, Alþingi og hagsmunaaðila sem byggð verður á gagnagrunninum. Þar verður hægt að skoða stöðu löggjafar ESB sem varðar Ísland.&nbsp;<br /> <br /> Þá má nefna að nú er forgangslisti ríkisstjórnarinnar samþykktur árlega. Þar eru tilgreind þau mál í lagasetningarferli hjá ESB sem metin eru sem forgangsmál út frá íslenskum hagsmunum. Sérstaklega er fylgst með þeim málum og tryggt að sjónarmiðum íslenskra stjórnvalda sé komið á framfæri. Til að svo megi verða verður auknu fjármagni varið til starfsemi sendiráðs Íslands í Brussel og fulltrúum fagráðuneyta fjölgað þar, til að sinna þessari bráðnauðsynlegu hagsmunagæslu. Þetta er afar brýnt.<br /> </span></p> <p><span>Góðir fundargestir.</span></p> <p><span>Á tímamótum er gagnlegt að líta um öxl en ekki síður fram á veginn. Við eigum að keppa að því marki að gera enn betur þegar EES-samningurinn er annars vegar; við eigum að horfa gagnrýnum augum á okkar eigin verk og finna leiðir til að tryggja betri framkvæmd samningsins og skoða reglulega kosti og galla aðildar okkar að samningnum.<br /> <br /> Af þessari ástæðu ákvað ég í tilefni af skýrslubeiðni á Alþingi sl. vor að skipa starfshóp undir forystu Björns Bjarnasonar til vinna skýrslu um aðild Íslands að EES-samningnum og meta kosti og galla aðildar. Það er von mín að skýrsla starfshópsins lyfti umræðu um EES-samninginn á hærra plan en verið hefur síðustu misseri.</span></p> <p><span>Við skulum hafa í huga að stór hluti íslensku þjóðarinnar þekkir ekki tilveruna án þess að njóta þeirra réttinda sem EES-samningurinn kveður á um. Upplýst umræða um kosti og galla aðildar okkar að samningnum mun vonandi hrinda aðför þeirra ólíku hagsmunaafla sem nú hafa sameinast um að koma EES-samningnum fyrir kattarnef.<br /> <br /> Það var mikið gæfuspor á 75 ára afmæli fullveldisins að við skyldum nýta forræði okkar yfir eigin málum til að gera alþjóðasamning á okkar eigin forsendum, sérsniðinn að okkar hagsmunum.&nbsp;</span></p> <p><span>Ég er þess fullviss að málefnaleg og vönduð skoðun á 25 ára reynslu okkar af EES-samninginn mun sýna ótvíræðan ávinning af aðild okkar en jafnframt verða okkur hvatning til að bæta framkvæmd samningsins enn frekar.</span></p> <p><span>Ég þakka áheyrnina og ítreka þakkir til Háskólans í Reykjavík fyrir að efna til umræðu um þessi mikilvægu mál.<br /> </span></p> <div>&nbsp;</div>
01. febrúar 2019Blá ör til hægriÁvarp við opnun nýrrar fæðingadeildar héraðsspítalans í Mangochi í Malaví<span>Vígsluathöfn nýrrar fæðingadeildar héraðsspítalans í Mangochi<br /> Fæðingadeild héraðsspítalans<br /> 31. janúar 2019<br /> <br /> Honourable Atupele Muluzi, Minister of Health and Population<br /> Honourable Clement T. Chiwaya, MP, Mangochi Central <br /> Principal Secretary of the Ministry of Health and Population<br /> Reverend Moses Chimpendo, District Commissioner of Mangochi<br /> Traditional Chiefs present<br /> All senior government officials present<br /> Distinguished guests, Ladies and gentlemen<br /> <br /> Today we celebrate the opening of the Maternity Wing and the Maternal and Child Health Centre of the Mangochi District Hospital. The construction of these facilities was funded by the Icelandic government, and therefore it gives me great pleasure to visit Malawi on this occasion. This is my first time in Malawi.&nbsp;<br /> <br /> The welcoming attitude of the people is heart-warming, and the beauty of the country is striking. I must confess that the weather here is much better than in my country, where recently we have had temperatures below freezing point, which makes Iceland a fitting name.<br /> <br /> Yesterday we travelled around various parts of your beautiful district, learning about some of the results of our joint development programme. I was very impressed with what we saw and clearly, we are making good progress.&nbsp;<br /> <br /> I also took the opportunity to plant trees at the sites we visited. Iceland is very committed to the Paris Declaration on Climate change and can hopefully make some contribution to Mangochi District efforts in reforestation and combatting climate change in the future.&nbsp;&nbsp;<br /> <br /> This visit has also made me think about the past and the many Icelandic people who have lived here, many of whom have very fond memories of your country and never tire of telling stories about how wonderful Malawi is. After all, Iceland has been collaborating with Malawi and Mangochi for 30 years.<br /> <br /> For almost ten years of these 30, our cooperation has been led and implemented by the Mangochi District Council. The main reason for this arrangement is to ensure local ownership of our cooperation programme.&nbsp;<br /> <br /> This new Maternity Wing and Maternal and Child Health Centre is yours – its construction was requested by you, it was led by you – and now you must take the responsibility of using it to the benefit of the women and children in the district. Lastly, you must maintain it well.<br /> <br /> Nevertheless, even if we want the District Council to be in charge, Iceland as a development partner has not hesitated to make it known that we need to monitor closely how funds are used and activities implemented. We have accountability obligations to our tax payers and citizens in Iceland, just as you have in Malawi.&nbsp;<br /> <br /> We take seriously our obligations to fight corruption. This our partners know, as Iceland has always taken action whenever suspicions of such behaviour have arisen in the past. I hereby ask that we keep on our fruitful collaboration to fight corruption.&nbsp;<br /> <br /> Through our long-standing cooperation, Iceland has supported many major investments in the Mangochi District, not only this Maternity Wing and Maternal and Child Health Centre. In fact, we have for an extended time been the largest funder of the investment budget of the Mangochi District Council. This is a fact that I am happy to note.&nbsp;<br /> <br /> Within the health sector, we have supported investments in health clinics, health posts, maternity wards, staff houses, ambulances and supported the Health Surveillance Assistants system in various ways.&nbsp; The biggest single investment so far, has been the Community Hospital in Monkey Bay which was inaugurated back in 2012.&nbsp;<br /> <br /> This formal inauguration of the Maternity Wing and the Maternal and Child Health Centre is not only a milestone for this district, but also for Iceland as a committed donor. It is expected that up to 30 thousand children will be born in facilities we have supported here in the Mangochi District this year. This is in fact about eight times more deliveries than in the entire health care system per year back home in Iceland.<br /> <br /> Iceland has also funded investments in clean water and sanitation for well over 300 thousand people, in various Traditional Authorities, and thereby contributed to the fact that Mangochi has been cholera free for the last two years.&nbsp;<br /> <br /> We have also made major investments in 12 target schools, building school blocks, administration facilities, teacher’s houses, trained teachers and procured teaching materials. The major emphasis is placed on reducing the dropout of pupils after standard four and to improve the basic reading proficiency for children in standards one to three.&nbsp;<br /> <br /> When visiting schools in Mangochi we are made acutely aware of the challenges associated with the rapidly growing population in Malawi.&nbsp; Preliminary results of the 2018 census indicate that the population has grown by 35% since the last census in 2008.<br /> <br /> Mangochi has now an estimated population of 1.2 million, which is about 400 thousand more than in 2010 when preparations for the Mangochi Basic Services programme started. The strain caused by this high growth is strongly felt in the health and education sectors and challenges the sustainability of results achieved.<br /> <br /> One of the most effective ways to tackle this situation is the adoption of family planning programmes that address some of the underlying factors for population growth, as well as some fundamental human rights.<br /> <br /> A straight forward action would be to prevent teen pregnancies.&nbsp; In that respect we would like to applaud the efforts of the Malawian government, and in particular His Excellency the President of the Republic, in ending child marriages. Teen pregnancies contribute negatively to the health of mothers and their children, and restrain their future possibilities in life.<br /> <br /> Furthermore, early child bearing places an extra burden on the health services. Investing in efforts to end child marriages and early child bearing is not only morally right but also makes a very good economic sense.<br /> <br /> I would like to emphasise that human rights and gender equality are placed high on the Icelandic development agenda and we hope to be a reliable development partner for Malawi to support such issues.<br /> <br /> As I said earlier, this year marks 30 years of cooperation between Iceland and Malawi. This is a long timespan. I would like to use this opportunity to thank the Malawian government and, in particular, the staff of the Mangochi District Council for its commitment and dedication to our cooperation.<br /> <br /> Iceland will continue to support the Mangochi District. Currently, we are working on the second phase of the Mangochi Basic Services Programme that will run until 2021.&nbsp; This phase includes upgrading of the Makanjira Health Centre, continued support to the 12 primary schools, as well as many new and rehabilitated boreholes.<br /> <br /> Furthermore, the programme includes economic empowerment component, both for women and youth, and support to the Mangochi Council Secretariat. We firmly believe that this support will benefit many people in this district.<br /> <br /> As I look at these buildings, I feel confident that it will be of great support to mothers-to-be in the Mangochi District and their unborn children. In recent years, Malawi has done well in lowering maternal and child mortality rates, and this facility will offer opportunities for even further improvements.<br /> <br /> However, having good facilities is only one part of what is required. This maternity wing needs to have first rate doctors and midwifes, and other qualified personnel. That responsibility lies with the Malawi government and I have full faith that that firm actions have be taken to ensure that this investment brings welfare to the communities.<br /> <br /> Finally, I want to congratulate you all on this new Maternity Wing and the Maternal and Child Health Centre and I wish the people of Malawi and of the Mangochi District prosperity in the future.<br /> </span> <div>&nbsp;</div>
14. janúar 2019Blá ör til hægriÁvarp á norðurslóðamálþingi í Háskólanum á Akureyri<span>Ávarp á málþingi<br /> Háskólinn á Akureyri, 14. janúar 2019<br /> Iceland’s priorities in the Arctic Council<br /> Mr. Guðlaugur Þór Þórðarson,<br /> Minister for Foreign Affairs of Iceland<br /> <br /> Foreign Minister of Finland Mr. Timo Soini, ladies and gentlemen.&nbsp;<br /> <br /> It gives me great pleasure to address this gathering here in the beautiful surroundings of Eyjafjörður and Akureyri – the Arctic Capital of Iceland.<br /> <br /> The Arctic is the topic of today’s discussions and I would like to share with you some thoughts and considerations as we prepare for Iceland’s upcoming Chairmanship of the Arctic Council, starting in May this year.&nbsp;<br /> <br /> First, allow me, Mayor of Akureyri, Ásthildur Sturludóttir, to acknowledge the great history of Akureyri, not least the part of it that connects with two of Iceland’s main themes for our upcoming chairmanship of the Arctic Council - the ocean on the one hand, and sustainable economic development on the other.&nbsp;<br /> <br /> Akureyri has long been an important port with its ice-free harbour playing a significant role in our nation’s history. Ever since the hard-working people of Akureyri mastered the art of salting herring and cod in the 19th century, the town has been an important fishing centre. Here, some of Iceland’s major fishing companies have established themselves while providing important work and innovation opportunities for the community at large.<br /> The University of Akureyri has also grown and matured considerably since it was established in 1987 and made intelligent use of the proximity to the ocean and the fishing industry by offering a unique study program in fisheries-sciences. Here, students can acquire knowledge of the marine ecology, fishing methods and fish processing technologies, as well as marketing of fisheries products in cooperation with the business community.&nbsp;<br /> <br /> This link between ocean sciences, fisheries and the business community provide a good example of how a coastal community like Akureyri can make use of its strengths to enhance knowledge of its natural environment, support its local industries and further develop economic opportunities in a sustainable manner for the benefit of future generations.&nbsp;<br /> It is, amongst other things, stories like this that we want to highlight in relation to Iceland’s Chairmanship of the Arctic Council. Here, we have experience to share that can be of use to other coastal communities in the Arctic.&nbsp;&nbsp;<br /> <br /> Akureyri also plays an important part in the day-by-day work of the Arctic Council, with secretariats of two working groups situated in town, PAME and CAFF. In this way, Akureyri is often at the forefront of our Arctic cooperation and will certainly have a role to play in Iceland’s upcoming Chairmanship of the Arctic Council. Here, in Akureyri, many important northern government organizations have also been established, including the Stefansson Arctic Institute, the Icelandic Arctic Cooperation Network, the Polar Law Institute and the Arctic Portal.&nbsp;<br /> <br /> Ladies and gentlemen,<br /> <br /> Charing the Arctic Council brings a unique and much welcomed opportunity for us and we very much look forward to take on the Chairmanship in May.&nbsp;<br /> In the spirit of the Ottawa declaration that founded the Arctic Council twenty-two years ago, sustainable development is the golden thread in our Chairmanship program because social, environmental and economic sustainability must go together.&nbsp;<br /> Most inhabitants in the Arctic region live in close proximity to nature and must deal with challenging environmental conditions. This is our reality in Iceland. We rely extensively on our natural environment for our livelihood, be it fishing, tourism, energy production or agriculture. With sustainable development as our guiding principle we have managed to build a prosperous society. Through the rich and diverse cultures that the circumpolar Arctic region harbours, we, together, can build thriving, sustainable societies for all, based on knowledge sharing, innovation and hard work.<br /> <br /> We have presented a draft plan for Iceland’s upcoming chairmanship of the Arctic Council. We will be further developing the plan with our Arctic Council partners over the next few months, but I can share with you our broader points of departure.&nbsp;<br /> <br /> Firstly, the oceans will figure at the top of our agenda. The largest part of the Arctic region is covered by ocean, and the welfare of a large part of the population in the Arctic is based on the utilization of marine resources. The Arctic Council has carried out many important ocean related projects and Iceland will focus on continuation and further development of projects in that field. Iceland is particularly interested in strengthening Arctic Council cooperation on mitigating plastic pollution of the oceans and is planning an international scientific conference on the topic in Reykjavík next year.&nbsp;<br /> <br /> Iceland is blessed with rich fishing grounds off its shores and everybody agrees that management of our fisheries resources must always be fully based on the best scientific advice. In the past twenty years, we have seen incredible increase in the percentage of utilization of catches, with some companies leaving virtually no biomass waste from their production.<br /> <br /> This experience has given Iceland inspiration to propose to the Arctic Council a project on the Blue Bioeconomy in the Arctic Region. We believe that by applying the sustainable methodology of the Blue Bioeconomy it is possible to increase significantly the quality and the market value of the products of the fishing industry in many of the arctic communities.&nbsp;<br /> <br /> The second priority area in our chairmanship program is Climate and Green Energy Solutions. We will be continuing the emphasis on meteorological cooperation that Finland initiated, and I would like to mention a project on mapping glaciers, using a digital elevation method and, thereby, providing a more accurate information on the dramatic glacial reduction that we witness in this part of the world.&nbsp;<br /> <br /> The impending shift in energy sources from fossil fuels to renewable energy will be important, both for reducing greenhouse gas emissions and for improving air quality in communities in the Arctic. Iceland aims for further work to be carried out in this field with a special focus on practical green energy solutions for small communities in the Arctic.&nbsp;<br /> Our third main substantive focus will be on the people of the Arctic and their desire to build prosperous yet sustainable communities. The Arctic Council has a strong history of promoting sustainable development and growth in communities in the region and we have ambition to continue cooperation on matters like gender equality, connectivity, adaptation and resilience. In the coming years and decades adapting to continuous warming of the Arctic will be a major challenge for many of the small Arctic communities, not least the indigenous people.<br /> <br /> Finally, Iceland will continue to work for a better and stronger Arctic Council. The Arctic Economic Council will celebrate its five years anniversary during Iceland’s chairmanship and it would be very fitting, we think, to seize that opportunity to enhance the collaboration between the two councils.&nbsp;<br /> <br /> We will also give due attention to the inner workings of the Arctic Council by maintaining the close consultations between member states and the permanent participants, and continue to engage with observers in an innovative and enhanced manner. It is of utmost importance for both prosperity and security in the Arctic region to work closely with all partners, inside as well as outside the region.<br /> <br /> Ladies and gentlemen.<br /> <br /> I would like to recognise the important role that our Finnish friends played in establishing the Arctic Council. Here, I am referring to Finland’s initiative in creating the Rovaniemi Arctic program in 1991. This was a brilliant undertaking which demonstrated great foresight and paved the way for the establishment of the Arctic Council five years later.&nbsp;<br /> Finland is now near the end of its chairmanship period of the Arctic Council. I want to congratulate Finland on its great leadership over the past two years and the excellent work they have done while chairing the Arctic Council.&nbsp;<br /> <br /> Let me also say that we are very grateful for the support that we have received from Finland in the preparations for our upcoming chairmanship and we look forward to keeping continued close contact throughout and beyond Iceland’s chairmanship period.&nbsp;<br /> Dear Timo it will be an honour and a privilege to take over the Chairmanship of the Arctic Council from you and a challenge for us to live up to your standards.&nbsp;<br /> <br /> Ladies and gentlemen,<br /> <br /> Interesting tasks lie ahead of us. Many of them will be challenging, but we have the tools and the means to continue to work together for a sustainable and prosperous Arctic region. That is why I remain optimistic for the future of the Arctic region.&nbsp;<br /> <br /> Thank you.<br /> </span>
13. desember 2018Blá ör til hægriAtvinnulífið og þróunarsamvinna<p>Nú í byrjun desember mælti ég fyrir nýrri þróunarsamvinnustefnu á Alþingi fyrir árin 2019-2023 ásamt aðgerðaáætlun fyrir næstu tvö ár. Þróunarsamvinnustefnan byggir á Heimsmarkmiðum Sameinuðu þjóðanna sem hafa þegar markað straumhvörf í þróunarsamvinnu nágrannaríkja okkar.<br /> <br /> Þessi nýja stefna er áþekk fyrri áætlunum en endurspeglar breytingar sem hafa orðið í alþjóðlegri þróunarsamvinnu á síðustu misserum með samþykkt Heimsmarkmiðanna, Parísarsamkomulaginu um loftslagsmál og samkomulaginu um fjármögnun þróunarsamvinnu í Addis Ababa. Þannig slær hún nýjan tón um aukið samstarf milli atvinnulífs og stjórnvalda. <br /> <br /> Í þróunarsamvinnustefnunni birtast þau viðhorf sem hafa verið ríkjandi hjá fátækari ríkjum heims, að sækjast eftir fjárfestingu við uppbyggingu atvinnugreina til að geta drifið sjálfbæran vöxt, skapað störf og aukið velsæld. Í því samhengi má nefna að níu af hverjum tíu störfum í þróunarlöndum verða til í einkageiranum og hvert starf útrýmir fátækt fimm einstaklinga. <br /> <br /> Auknar fjárfestingar og stuðningur við atvinnuuppbyggingu í þróunarlöndum er enda sá þáttur sem vex einna hraðast í þróunarsamvinnuverkefnum annarra Norðurlanda. Af þeirri ástæðu hefur utanríkisráðuneytið hafið greiningu á því hvernig Norðurlöndin standa að samstarfi atvinnulífs og stjórnvalda um þróunarsamvinnu með það fyrir augum að fá tillögur um nýjar leiðir sem Ísland getur farið.<br /> <br /> <strong>Aukið samstarf við félagasamtök og atvinnulíf</strong></p> <p>Til að raunverulegur árangur náist við að útrýma fátækt og auka velsæld í þróunarlöndum verður að koma til aukið samstarf atvinnulífs, félagasamtaka og stjórnvalda. Heimsmarkmiðin munu aldrei nást ef einungis eiga að koma til framlög frá opinberum aðilum, heldur þarf að virkja um 2500 milljarða Bandaríkjadala á heimsvísu árlega frá fjármálastofnunum og atvinnulífi til ársins 2030 miðað við útreikninga Sameinuðu þjóðanna. <br /> <br /> Norræn fyrirtæki hafa í auknum mæli litið á þróunarlöndin sem áhugaverða vaxtarmarkaði þar sem tækifærum mun fjölga ört á komandi árum. Þau hafa séð sér hag í fjárfesta í innviðauppbyggingu og mannauði í samstarfi við þarlend stjórnvöld með hliðsjón af mannréttinda- og umhverfissjónarmiðum. <br /> <br /> Fjárfestingar á vaxandi mörkuðum þróunarríkja geta skilað bæði fjárfestum og samfélögunum töluverðum ávinningi þótt þeim fylgi oft nokkur áhætta. Með samvinnu stjórnvalda og atvinnulífs má lágmarka áhættuna, bæði með opinberum stuðningi við einstök verkefni og með því að nýta þekkingu á staðarháttum og tengslanet stjórnvalda við alþjóðastofnanir og stjórnvöld á staðnum. <br /> <br /> Meginmarkmiðið með framlagi Íslands til þróunarsamvinnu er að draga úr fátækt og stuðla að atvinnusköpun og viðvarandi sjálfbærum hagvexti í þróunarlöndum til að leggja grunn að aukinni velsæld. Aðkoma atvinnulífsins sem býr yfir frumkvæði og margs konar sérþekkingu sem nýst getur við að leysa flókin verkefni er mikilvægur þáttur í þessari uppbyggingu. <br /> <br /> Samstarf stjórnvalda og atvinnulífs við aðila í þróunarríkjum miðar að uppbyggingu stöðugs alþjóðlegs viðskiptaumhverfis og sjálfbærra viðskipta í þróunarríkjunum, enda eru aukin viðskipti og ný tækifæri hagsmunamál okkar allra þegar til lengri tíma litið. Samstarfið byggir á forsendum viðtökuríkja, en mannréttindi, jafnrétti kynjanna og sjálfbær þróun verða höfð í heiðri í þessu samstarfi.<br /> <br /> Við Íslendingar búum yfir yfirgripsmikilli þekkingu á ýmsum sviðum sem getur gagnast vel við uppbyggingu innviða og atvinnuvega í þróunarlöndum. Því er markmiðið að nýta íslenska virðisaukandi sérþekkingu í verkefnum og innan fjölþjóðastofnana. <br /> <br /> <strong>Samstarfssjóður við atvinnulífið</strong><br /> <br /> Í síðasta mánuði hleypti ég af stokkunum nýjum samstarfssjóði atvinnulífs og íslenskra stjórnvalda um Heimsmarkmiðin. Sjóðurinn er ætlaður samstarfsverkefnum fyrirtækja í þróunarríkjum og lögð er sérstök áhersla á að verkefni styðji við Heimsmarkmið nr. 8 um mannsæmandi atvinnu og sjálfbæran hagvöxt. <br /> <br /> Veitt verða framlög til samstarfsverkefna í lágtekju- og lágmillitekjuríkjum sem eiga að stuðla að atvinnusköpun og sjálfbærum vexti. Styrkveitingar úr sjóðnum eru takmarkaðar við atvinnulíf og verkefni þurfa að vera framkvæmd í samvinnu við samstarfsaðila í tilteknu þróunarlandi. Einnig geta fleiri samstarfsaðilar, s.s. háskólar og félagasamtök, komið að verkefninu, en með samvinnu aðila sem koma með fjölbreytta þekkingu inn í verkefni aukum við líkurnar á því að við náum þeim markmiðum sem stefnt er að.<br /> <br /> Til úthlutunar að þessu sinni eru allt að 100 m.kr. Hámarksfjárhæð til einstakra verkefna er allt að 200.000 evrur yfir þriggja ára tímabil. Styrkfjárhæð getur numið allt að 50% af heildarkostnaði verkefnis en nánari upplýsingar er að finna á <a href="https://www.stjornarradid.is/default.aspx?PageID=fdc6fc48-8e1c-4fad-a0bc-8c699da7d907">heimasíðu utanríkisráðuneytisins</a>. <br /> <br /> Heimsmarkmiðin eru sameiginleg ábyrgð okkar allra. Atvinnulífið hefur stigið stór skref í innleiðingu markmiðanna á Íslandi og með sjóðnum viljum við stuðla að því að atvinnulífið geti einnig lagt sitt af mörkum í þróunarsamvinnu. Við vonum að ólíkir aðilar sjái tækifæri í því að skilgreina sameiginleg markmið, skapa virðisauka fyrir alla, og vinna saman því að ná þessum metnaðarfullu markmiðum.</p> <p><em>Greinin birstist fyrst í Viðskiptablaðinu 13. desember 2018</em>.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>&nbsp;</p>
10. desember 2018Blá ör til hægriMannréttindayfirlýsing Sameinuðu þjóðanna 70 ára<span>Hátíðarfundur í tilefni 70 ára afmælis mannréttindayfirlýsingar Sameinuðu þjóðanna<br /> Háskóla Íslands, 10. desember 2018<br /> Ávarp utanríkisráðherra, Guðlaugs Þórs Þórðarsonar<br /> <br /> Ágæta samkoma!<br /> <br /> Mannréttindayfirlýsing Sameinuðu þjóðanna er sjötíu ára í dag og eins og venja er á stórafmælum er við hæfi að segja: Til hamingju með daginn!&nbsp;<br /> <br /> Við Íslendingar höfum mjög góða sögu að segja. Hvað sem líður afmörkuðum pólitískum úrlausnarmálum hér heima er staða mannréttinda hér á landi góð og kemur vel út í öllum samanburði við aðrar þjóðir.&nbsp;<br /> <br /> Og fyrir vikið erum við að mínu mati vel í stakk búin til að láta gott af okkur leiða í mannréttindaráði Sameinuðu þjóðanna þar sem við tókum sæti fyrr á þessu ári. Þar leggjum við áherslu á jafnrétti kynjanna, réttindi hinsegin fólks, sem og réttindi barna.&nbsp;<br /> <br /> En við tölum líka skýrt og skorinort um ástandið í einstökum ríkjum. Við höfum, svo tvö dæmi séu tekin, verið leiðandi rödd að því er varðar slæma þróun á Filippseyjum undanfarin tvö ár, og við erum eitt af örfáum ríkjum sem talar opinskátt um aðstæður í Sádi-Arabíu.<br /> <br /> Þar er af ýmsu að taka – hernaðurinn gagnvart óbreyttum borgurum í Jemen, sem við höfum gagnrýnt harðlega, en líka bágbornar aðstæður kvenna heima við, opinberar aftökur, pyntingar og takmörkuð pólitísk og félagsleg réttindi borgaranna.<br /> &nbsp;<br /> Við hlökkum til að láta að okkur kveða í mannréttindaráðinu á komandi ári – en líka annars staðar þar sem rödd Íslands heyrist. Við sem störfum í utanríkisþjónustunni leggjum ætíð áherslu á mannréttindi hvort sem það er á vettvangi alþjóðastofnana eða í tvíhliða samskiptum við önnur ríki.<br /> <br /> Kæru félagar,<br /> Mannréttindayfirlýsingin kveður á um margt sem við teljum sjálfsagðan hlut en það var ekki alltaf þannig - og er ekki í dag. Því miður. Baráttan heldur því áfram og sennilega lýkur henni aldrei.&nbsp;<br /> <br /> Aðstæður eru mjög misjafnar eftir því hvar í heiminum þú ert og gríðarlega miklar samfélagslegar breytingar hafa átt sér stað, sem enginn sá fyrir þegar Mannréttindayfirlýsingin var samþykkt. Auknar kröfur eru gerðar og nýjar áskoranir hafa orðið til.<br /> <br /> Engu að síður hefur Mannréttindayfirlýsingin staðist tímans tönn prýðilega. Greinarnar þrjátíu, sem Mannréttindayfirlýsingin samanstendur af, fanga hugsun sem fyrst og fremst felur í sér áherslu á rétt einstaklinga en líka skyldur þeirra hver gagnvart öðrum, á mannlega reisn og mikilvægi hennar.<br /> <br /> „Allir eru bornir frjálsir og jafnir öðrum að virðingu og réttindum. Allir eru gæddir skynsemi og samvisku og ber að breyta bróðurlega hverjum við annan,“ segir strax í fyrstu grein Mannréttindayfirlýsingarinnar og ég held við getum öll verið sammála um að þessi texti hljómar vel enn þann dag í dag.<br /> <br /> Ég er sjálfur þeirrar skoðunar að það felist grundvallarmannréttindi í því að menn og konur fái að lifa eins og þeim hugnast - frelsi fólks til hugsana og athafna sé óskert, svo lengi sem það breytir bróðurlega gagnvart öðrum mönnum og konum og allir njóta sömu réttinda.&nbsp;<br /> <br /> Ég vil hafa hlutina einfalda. Regluverkið sem við byggjum samfélag okkar á þarf að vera eins skilvirkt og nokkur kostur er, og ýta undir einstaklinginn fremur en að halda aftur að honum. Að vera borinn frjáls í þennan heim þýðir meðal annars að ríkisvald á ekki að setja of miklar skorður á hvað ég get tekið mér fyrir hendur. Þetta er grundvallaratriði og gleymist stundum í umræðu um mannréttindamál.<br /> <br /> Stundum er kvartað undan því að mannréttindalöggjöf, eins og hún hefur þróast, sem og þær stofnanir sem hafa verið settar á laggirnar til að halda utan um hana, sé orðin of metnaðargjörn til að vera raunhæf. Samningar á sviði mannréttinda séu orðnir of margir og of margt sé málum blandið. Of auðvelt sé að fara á svig við reglur, einfalt að ljúga til um raunverulega stöðu mála eða einfaldlega hafna afskiptum annarra á þeim grunni að um einkamál viðkomandi ríkis sé að ræða.<br /> <br /> Ég nefndi réttindi kvenna í Sádi-Arabíu hér áðan en vissuð þið að Sádi-Arabía fullgilti fyrir löngu síðan sáttmála Sameinuðu þjóðanna um afnám allrar mismununar gagnvart konum? Við þurfum auðvitað að velta fyrir okkur hvers virði slíkt regluverk er í raun ef ekki er farið eftir því. Og standa í ístaðinu eftir fremsta megni – halda þeim við efnið sem ekki standa sig nægilega vel, bæði hér heima og úti í hinum stóra heimi.<br /> <br /> Ég nefni þetta hér því að sjötíu ára afmæli Mannréttindayfirlýsingarinnar gefur okkur ágætt tækifæri til að spyrja ýmissa grundvallarspurninga og ræða málin út frá ólíkum sjónarhornum. Mannréttindayfirlýsingin er biblían okkar í þeirri umræðu - það skjal sem alltaf er hægt að leita til og sækja leiðsögn og innblástur í.<br /> <br /> Þörfin fyrir að tala fyrir mannréttindum eru engu minni nú en hún var fyrir sjötíu árum og við þurfum auðvitað að muna við hvaða aðstæður Mannréttindayfirlýsingin varð til - í kjölfar blóðugrar heimsstyrjaldar.<br /> Mannréttindi eru ekki afstæð. Þau eru algild. Með því að setja mannréttindi í forgang, frelsi og jafnrétti allra, erum við um leið að vinna friði og stöðugleika í heiminum gagn. Þann slag verðum við alltaf að vera tilbúin til að taka.<br /> <br /> Þakka ykkur fyrir.<br /> </span> <div>&nbsp;</div>
29. nóvember 2018Blá ör til hægriSamvinnan styrkir fullveldið<p>Saga íslenskrar utanríkisþjónustu er samofin sögu fullveldisins. Þótt dönsk stjórnvöld hafi annast framkvæmd vissra utanríkismála til 1940 fylgdi fullveldinu forræði yfir málaflokknum. Íslendingar opnuðu sitt fyrsta sendiráð í Kaupmannahöfn árið 1920. Á millistríðsárunum störfuðu íslenskir viðskiptaerindrekar erlendis og viðskiptasamningar við önnur ríki litu dagsins ljós. Ísland varð nú sjálft að leita markaða fyrir framleiðsluvörur sínar og afla nauðsynja.</p> <p >Við stofnun lýðveldisins voru íslensk stjórnvöld ákveðin í að taka þátt í þeirri almennu ríkjasamvinnu sem varð að veruleika í kjölfar seinna stríðs. Ísland varð ekki aðili að Sameinuðu þjóðunum fyrr en ári eftir stofnun þeirra því það neitaði að segja Þýskalandi stríð á hendur. Með stofnaðild sinni að Evrópuráðinu og Atlantshafsbandalaginu kaus Ísland að tilheyra hópi lýðræðisríkja Evrópu og Norður-Ameríku. Ísland leggur sitt af mörkum í þessari samvinnu, dæmi um það er aðildin að mannréttindaráði Sameinuðu þjóðanna, sem er ein mesta ábyrgðarstaða sem Ísland hefur gegnt á alþjóðavettvangi.<br /> <br /> Þátttaka okkar í alþjóðlegu samstarfi hefur ávallt verið á grundvelli fullveldis og frjáls viðskipti hafa varðað veginn frá upphafi. Það var fullvalda ríkið Ísland sem árið 1970 gekk í EFTA og við það opnuðust ný tækifæri fyrir íslensk fyrirtæki á erlendum mörkuðum og verndartollar féllu niður. EES-samningurinn frá 1993 myndaði svo brú frá Íslandi yfir á innri markað ESB. Evrópusamstarfið og aðild okkar að EES hefur reynst okkur afar farsæl og tryggt hagsmuni íslenskra fyrirtækja og borgara.<br /> <br /> Alþjóðleg samvinna og virk hagsmunagæsla stuðla að því að lífskjör og tækifæri hérlendis verði áfram með því sem besta sem gerist í heiminum. Við þetta má svo bæta virðingu fyrir þjóðarrétti, sem skiptir minni ríki miklu máli við að gæta hagsmuna sinna gagnvart hinum stóru. Síðast en ekki síst felur þessi alþjóðlega samvinna í sér viðurkenningu erlendra ríkja á að Ísland sé frjálst og fullvalda ríki. Þannig má segja að alþjóðasamstarfið og fullveldið styðji hvort við annað.</p> <p>Greinin birtist fyrst í Fréttablaðinu 29. nóvember 2018</p>
08. nóvember 2018Blá ör til hægriTímanna tengsl<span>Á milli Grænlands og Íslands hafa í meira en þúsund ár ríkt langvarandi og óviðjafnanleg vinatengsl, tengsl sem átt hafa sér eðlilega þróun og munu í framtíðinni öðlast aukið vægi. Það er okkur því mikil ánægja að fá að deila hér okkar sýn og leggja gjörva hönd á plóg við útgáfu þessa sameiginlega þemablaðs landa okkar.<br /> <br /> Við undirritun íslensk-grænlensku viljayfirlýsingarinnar (Joint Decalaration) árið 2013 var fyrri samstarfsvettvangur styrktur í sessi og honum fenginn formlegri farvegur auk þess sem fjöldi nýrra samstarfsmöguleika var skilgreindur og staðfestur. Verslun og viðskipti er eitt, en stjórnmálatengslin dafna jafnframt með föstum árvissum fundum á sviði sjávarútvegsmála en einnig á vettvangi norðurskautsráðsins, Norðurlandaráðs og vestnorræna ráðsins. Hagsmunir Íslands og Grænlands eiga eðli málsins samkvæmt samleið á sviði fiskveiða, ferðaþjónustu, samgangna, landbúnaðar, menntamála, heilbrigðismála og síðast en ekki síst á menningarsviðinu. Hin síðustu ár hafa fært samfélögum okkar stækkandi skiptimarkað með kvikmyndir, tónlist, myndlist og leiklist sem hefur víkkað sjóndeildarhring nágrannaþjóðanna.<br /> <br /> Reynslan hefur kennt okkur að varanleg og góð samverkatengsl við Ísland verða til með þekkingu á og beinum samskiptum við íslenska tengiliði. Þar með viljum við styrkja tengsl Íslands og Grænlands enn fremur með fleiri áþreifanlegum samstarfsverkefnum og fræðaskiptum sem krefjast þéttriðins samskiptanets með góðum og traustum tengiliðum. Af Grænlands hálfu er auðsótt að virkja slík tengsl með markvissri uppbyggingu í íslensku höfuðborginni sem er kveikjan að því að grænlenska stjórnin, með dyggum stuðningi landsþingsins, hefur ákveðið að opna fulltrúaskrifstofu í Reykjavík árið 2018. Sendifulltrúar beggja þjóða á staðnum í Nuuk og Reykjavík munu mynda brú milli íslenskra og grænlenskra stjórnvalda og fyrirtækja.<br /> <br /> Sameiginleg hagsmunamál þjóða okkar eru mörg og vilji okkar stendur til nánara samstarfs, ekki síst á vettvangi norðurslóðamála, þar sem aukið samráð Íslands og Grænlands getur rennt enn frekari stoðum undir hagkvæma staðsetningu landanna. Þá ber ekki að gleyma því að aukin verslun milli landanna er kveikjan að vexti og hagsæld beggja þjóða sem án nokkurs vafa mun reynast samfélögum okkar gæfuríkt.<br /> <br /> <em>Sameiginleg grein Guðlaugs Þórs Þórðarsonar utanríkisráðherra og&nbsp;Ane Lone Bagger, menningar-, mennta-, kirkju- og utanríkisráðherra Grænlands, í tilefni opnunar sendiskrifstofu Grænlands í Reykjavík í október 2018. Greinin birtist fyrst í Morgunblaðinu og grænlenska blaðinu Sermitsiaq.&nbsp;</em><br /> </span> <div>&nbsp;</div>
08. nóvember 2018Blá ör til hægriTrident Juncture 2018: Varnir norræna svæðisinsAlvarleg öryggisvá á norræna svæðinu hefði áhrif á öll Norðurlöndin. Þess vegna taka Noregur, Svíþjóð, Finnland, Danmörk og Ísland í auknum mæli þátt í sameiginlegum varnaræfingum.<br /> <br /> Þessa dagana taka fimmtíu þúsund hermenn frá 31 landi þátt í stórri æfingu sem ætlað er að prófa samstarfshæfni okkar. Æfingin Trident Juncture 2018 er stærsta varnaræfing Atlantshafsbandalagsins í nok <p>kra áratugi. Hún sýnir fram á endurnýjaðar áherslur bandalagsins á sameiginlegar varnir aðildarríkjanna og landfræðipólitískt mikilvægi Norðurlandanna fyrir norðanverða Evrópu.&nbsp;<br /> <br /> Trident Juncture veitir Atlantshafsbandalaginu einstakt tækifæri, sem og samstarfsríkjum þess, Svíþjóð og Finnlandi, til að sannreyna samstarfsgetu okkar við norrænar veðurfarsaðstæður á svæðum sem spanna allt frá hrjóstrugu landslagi okkar til Norður-Atlantshafsins og Eystrasaltsins. Þetta er mikilvægt. Ekki aðeins vegna þess að það eflir varnargetu okkar, heldur eflir það einnig tengsl ríkja okkar og sendir skýr skilaboð til hvers þess sem hugleiðir beitingu hervalds til að ná fram markmiðum sínum.&nbsp;&nbsp;</p> <p><strong>Engin hernaðarógn steðjar að Norðurlöndunum<br /> </strong>Við sjáum enga hernaðarógn sem steðjar að Norðurlöndunum í dag. Eftir sem áður lifum við á ófyrirsjáanlegum og óöruggum tímum. Rússland gerir sig meira gildandi og hefur sýnt fram á bæði vilja og getu til að beita herafli til að styðja við hernaðarleg markmið sín. Netárásir og villandi upplýsingar ýta undir pólitískar öfgar bæði í Evrópu og Bandaríkjunum, sem síðan valda álagi á lýðræðislegar stofnanir samfélagsins og getu okkar til að leita málamiðlana. Alþjóðleg hryðjuverkastarfsemi hefur breytt því hvernig við hugsum um öryggismál, fólksflutningar eru líkast til orðnir það málefni sem skiptir fólki mest í fylkingar og loftslagsbreytingar hafa áhrif á öll þessi málefni með ófyrirsjáanlegum hætti.</p> <p><strong>Sterkari saman</strong><br /> Við erum tengd gegnum landfræðilega legu, sögu okkar, menningu og gildi, við berum sameiginlega ábyrgð á að varðveita frið og stöðugleika í okkar heimshluta. Við trúum staðfastlega á samræðu, gegnsæi og fyrirsjáanleika í skipan alþjóðamála sem byggir á alþjóðalögum og bindandi samningum. Því miður deila ekki öll ríki þessum gildum. Þess vegna er nauðsynlegt að búa að trúverðugri hernaðargetu. Danmörk, Noregur og Ísland eru aðilar að Atlantshafsbandalaginu, en Svíþjóð og Finnland standa utan þess. Með sameiginlegum æfingum – og í gegnum Atlantshafsbandalagið – bætum við getu þessara nágrannaþjóða til samstarfs, ef einhvern tíma kemur til þess að það verði nauðsynlegt. Ekki í staðinn fyrir Atlantshafsbandalagið, heldur til viðbótar við það.<br /> <br /> <strong>Þrettán þúsund norrænir hermenn&nbsp;</strong><br /> Framlag norrænu ríkjanna til Trident Juncture æfingarinnar er umtalsvert þar sem rúmlega þrettán þúsund hermenn og mikill fjöldi borgaralegra starfsmanna tekur þátt. Sem dæmi um fyrirtaks norræna samvinnu munu sveitir úr landher Finna starfa sem hluti af sænskri herdeild og danskar herþyrlur munu styðja við norsku herdeildina. Atlantshafsbandalagið og herafli samstarfsríkjanna Finnlands og Svíþjóðar mun nota herstöðvar og flugvelli í öllum norrænu ríkjunum, en hið hernaðarlega mikilvæga Ísland mun gegna hlutverki sem miðlægt söfnunarsvæði og gátt fyrir liðs- og birgðaflutninga þátttökuríkjanna yfir Atlantshafið.&nbsp;<br /> <br /> <strong>Aukin varnarsamvinna Norðurlandanna og bandalagsríkjanna</strong><br /> Þessi mikla þátttaka Norðurlandanna í Trident Juncture æfingunni er árangur markvissrar sameiginlegrar viðleitni okkar til að bæta norrænt varnarsamstarf. Við höfum aukið sameiginlegar æfingar og þjálfun. Við skiptumst á loftferðaeftirlitsupplýsingum og höfum auðveldað skjóta liðs- og birgðaflutninga milli ríkja okkar með því að fjarlægja stjórnsýslulega flöskuhálsa sem stóðu í vegi hernaðarlegs hreyfanleika. Atlantshafsbandalagið og Evrópusambandið hafa tekið upp svipaða aðferðafræði sem byggir á árangri norrænu ríkjanna.<br /> <br /> <strong>Norræna nágrannavaktin</strong><br /> Við kunnum að búa við mismunandi aðstæður í varnarmálum, en við erum öll nágrannar í norðri. Öryggisvá á norðursvæðum myndi hafa áhrif á okkur öll og geta okkar til að leysa úr slíkri vá verður aðeins jafn góð og samstarfsgeta okkar - saman og með vina- og bandalagsþjóðum okkar. Þess vegna er Trident Juncture æfingin svo mikilvæg. Og þess vegna ættu menn að láta sig norrænt samstarf miklu skipta.</p> <p><em>Sameiginleg grein&nbsp;<span>Guðlaugs Þórs Þórðarsonar utanríkisráðherra, Claust Hjort Frederiksen, varnarmálaráðherra Danmerkur, Frank Bakke-Jensen, varnarmálaráðherra Noregs, Jussi Niinistö, varnarmálaráðherra Finnlands, og Peter Hultqvist, varnarmálaráðherra Svíþjóðar, sem birtist í Morgunblaðinu og fleiri norrænum dagblöðum 25. október 2018.&nbsp;</span></em></p> <div>&nbsp;</div>
06. nóvember 2018Blá ör til hægriRæða utanríkisráðherra á málþingi um öryggis- og varnarmál í Norræna húsinu<p><span>Security Challenges in Northern Europe<br /> Keynote Address by<br /> H.E. Mr. Guðlaugur Þór Þórðarson,<br /> Minister for Foreign Affairs of Iceland<br /> Nordic House, 5 November 2018<br /> <br /> Ladies and Gentlemen,<br /> Here in Iceland, we have only just bid farewell to a large NATO fleet, which visited us on a mission very much in line with the main message of this conference.&nbsp;<br /> <br /> The fleet, which united under a NATO flag here in Reykjavík before setting sail for Norway, was perhaps the most visible part of the Icelandic participation in exercise Trident Juncture 2018. But it was by no means our only involvement in an important exercise for Icelandic <br /> security and defense.&nbsp;</span></p> <p><span>Trident Juncture is one of the largest NATO exercises since the end of the Cold War - and the emphasis is once again on the cold. In Iceland, US Marines trained their ability to operate in cold weather, and that work continues in Norway as we speak.&nbsp;<br /> <br /> From what we saw here in Iceland, there is a need for our allies to “rediscover” the High North. And it is for this reason that NATO set its sights on Norway and Iceland, but also Sweden and Finland, for Trident Juncture 2018.&nbsp;<br /> <br /> After years of out-of-area operations, NATO is refocusing its efforts on European security and defense. As the book “Security in Northern Europe – Deterrence, Defense and Dialogue”, which underpins this conference, argues the North Atlantic and Iceland have regained their strategic importance to the Alliance.&nbsp;<br /> <br /> This shift to European defense is not without reason. The European security environment changed drastically in 2014 with the occupation and annexation of Crimea. Many have said that we should have seen it coming – including our Georgian friends who raised the alarm in 2008.&nbsp;<br /> <br /> For the past decade, Russia has significantly modernized its military, and refocused its “Bastion” concept of sea control and sea denial as far south as the strategic GIUK gap, in which Iceland plays a central role.<br /> <br /> This renewed focus on the GIUK gap heralds a return to the situation we faced in the Cold War, with Iceland as a “lily pad” for the bulk of NATO’s fighting power coming in from North America, and a crucial installation for securing sea lines of communications in the North Atlantic. As an island nation, we are no strangers to the importance of maritime security.&nbsp;<br /> <br /> We have also seen a series of concerning acts from Russia which require us to review our posture. The chemical attacks in Salisbury, the subsequent cyber-attacks on the OPCW, and the continued efforts to impact democratic processes are just some of the new threats and challenges we face.&nbsp;<br /> <br /> Ladies and Gentlemen,<br /> Iceland has taken these developments very seriously, and we have our own perspective on security developments in our region and the world. The new National Security Policy for Iceland from 2016 enjoys cross-party support from left to right and sets the framework for the security and defense policy of our coalition Government. The National Security Policy was timely and guides our work in times of growing instability and increased challenges of various nature to our common security.&nbsp;<br /> <br /> We are a nation without a military and will continue to be so – a key prerequisite in our National Security Policy. We are, however, a sound and trustworthy Ally and have, since 2014, increased our spending on security and defense in line with the commitments made at the 2014 NATO Summit in Wales, and increased our participation in NATO through civilian means.&nbsp;<br /> <br /> We have always spoken of the importance of Sea Lines of Communications in NATO - along with our Norwegian friends. We are, therefore, pleased with the new command structure that focuses more on the North-Atlantic, and the increased awareness NATO has shown to this part of the world in recent years, including through air-policing in Iceland and exercises.&nbsp;<br /> In addition to Trident Juncture this year, we have hosted NATO’s anti-submarine warfare exercise Dynamic Mongoose - and we will see more of those in the near future. We have stepped up our co-operation with the alliance’s Maritime Command in Northwood and, in the wider context, we have sent civilian experts to the Enhanced Forward Presence missions in Lithuania and Estonia. There, our people counter disinformation against NATO deterrence efforts.<br /> <br /> Every innovation of technology has, to borrow Thomas Friedman’s phrase, flattened the world a little more. Step by step, the illusion of safety through isolation is shattered. This has become abundantly clear in the 21st century with the threats of terrorism and cyber-attacks.&nbsp;<br /> As a result, we have increased our preparedness for these new hybrid and cyber threats. Increased resilience, exercising for complex threats, and protection of key infrastructure is now an important part of the work we do at home on security and defense.&nbsp;<br /> <br /> Ladies and Gentlemen,<br /> I also believe in the importance of dialogue. In securing Northern Europe, we must maintain the two-track approach. This is not new – these are the two pillars, defense and deterrence combined with dialogue, the “Three Ds” as it is sometimes called, that the Alliance has been working with since its foundation.&nbsp;<br /> <br /> Today, arms control, disarmament and non-proliferation are high on our agenda – and understandably so. This year, there has been focus on issues relating to chemical and nuclear weapons. If we look to events related to the INF Treaty or North Korea, we become quite aware of the importance of dialogue.<br /> <br /> Last week, Iceland hosted the annual NATO Conference on Weapons of Mass Destruction, where we focused on arms control, disarmament and non-proliferation. This was an important dialogue between NATO and other partners in how to take the arms control agenda forward – towards our common objective of a more secure world.&nbsp;&nbsp;<br /> <br /> It is essential to strike the right balance between defense, deterrence and dialogue. This includes Russia, which has disregarded international law and rejected central elements of the post-Cold War agreements, but still remains an important part of the European security architecture and a regional partner, including in the Arctic.<br /> <br /> This takes strong political commitment and even sacrifices. We should always be strong on our principles and values - these have ensured our safety and prosperity for decades and will continue to. But we should also not shy away from engaging in dialogue on issues where we disagree on or, let alone, where we actually agree on.&nbsp;<br /> <br /> There is, for example, a broad understanding amongst member states in the Arctic Council, which Iceland will chair from May next year, that the Arctic demands dialogue and co-operation above all in addressing the challenges and opportunities that are unfolding in this vulnerable region.<br /> <br /> Therefore, I believe the Arctic Council, as well as other regional organizations such as the Council of the Baltic Sea States, which Iceland spearheaded last year, to be an important venue for dialogue when it comes to the security prospects of the High North and preserving peace in Europe.<br /> <br /> Finally, the most important aspect to effective defense, deterrence and dialogue in Northern Europe is Alliance cohesion and solidarity. NATO is composed of 29 diverse Allies, which can at times be a challenge. But it is also a tremendous strength when we speak with one voice - committed to our common defense, deterrence and dialogue.<br /> <br /> This Alliance for almost 70 years, this unity, this solidarity is unique -and certainly worth preserving.<br /> <br /> Thank you, and I wish you fruitful discussions.<br /> </span></p>
31. október 2018Blá ör til hægriRæða ráðherra á Norðurlandaráðsþingi í ÓslóNorðurlandaráðsþing í Ósló 30. október til 1. nóvember 2018<br /> <br /> International debat med udenrigsministrene <br /> <br /> Ávarp utanríkisráðherra<br /> <br /> Forseti, ráðherrar, þingmenn í Norðurlandaráði, góðir gestir. <br /> <br /> Mig langar til byrja á að því að þakka fyrir boðið að vera með ykkur í dag og að fá taka þátt í þessari umræðu. Þetta er raunar í fyrsta skipti sem ég kem á Norðurlandaráðsþing og það er mér því sérstakt ánægjuefni að standa í þessum ræðustól. <br /> <br /> Margot Wallström gaf allítarlega skýrslu fyrir hönd okkar norrænu utanríkisráðherranna og fór yfir helstu málefni utanríkismálanna. <br /> <br /> Eins og hún minntist á hefur Svíþjóð verið í annasömu hlutverki á þessu ári í gegnum árangursríka formennsku sína á mismunandi vettvangi.<br /> <br /> Á næsta ári er komið að Íslandi því þá gegnum við formennsku á alls fimm stöðum. <br /> <br /> Um næstu áramót hefst formennska Íslands í Norrænu ráðherranefndinni. Formennskuáætluninni hefur verið dreift hér í þinginu og forsætisráðherra gerði grein fyrir áherslum okkar í gær. <br /> <br /> Við tökum líka við formennsku- og samræmingarhlutverki í samstarfi utanríkisráðherra Norðurlandanna (N5) og utanríkisráðherra Norðurlandanna og Eystrasaltsríkjanna (NB8) sem hittast oft á ári. <br /> <br /> Á þessum vettvangi er fjallað um helstu utanríkismál, sem eru efst á baugi hverju sinni, en auk þess gerum við ráð fyrir að beina sjónum sérstaklega að netöryggi og orkuöryggi, og málefnum hafsins. <br /> <br /> Frá og með næsta hausti mun Ísland sitja í stjórn Alþjóðabankans í Washington D.C. en því fylgir umfangsmikið samræmingarstarf fyrir hönd NB8 ríkjanna á sviði þróunarmála. <br /> <br /> Síðast en ekki síst munum við veita Norðurskautsráðinu formennsku þegar við tökum við af Finnum í maí á næsta ári. Formennskuáætlun okkar fyrir árin 2019 til 2021 er í vinnslu í samvinnu við öll aðildarríki ráðsins og verður kynnt þegar þar að kemur. <br /> <br /> Við hlökkum til samstarfsins við önnur Norðurlönd um sameiginlegar áherslur og verkefni á þessum fimmfalda vettvangi á næsta ári. <br /> <br /> Þessi upptalning sýnir hve Norðurlöndin vinna vel og náið saman. Og hér ekki allt upp talið - við vinnum líka þétt saman innan alþjóðastofnana eins og Sameinuðu þjóðanna og í Evrópu. <br /> <br /> Vissulega hafa Norðurlöndin farið mismunandi leiðir í alþjóðamálum s.s. hvað varðar aðildina að NATO og ESB. Það er okkar lýðræðislega niðurstaða, hvers um sig. <br /> <br /> En það er styrkur okkar að þrátt fyrir ólíkar leiðir þá deilum við sameiginlegum grunngildum. Það er sá sterki grunnur sem samstarfið byggir á.<br /> <br /> Ég ljái máls á þessu því það er ekkert launungarmál að það eru viðsjár og væringar á alþjóðavettvangi. Kannski meiri órói og óvissa en við sem hér erum höfum áður upplifað. <br /> <br /> Það eru ekki bara skiptar skoðanir um marghliða alþjóðasamvinnu, alþjóðalög og alþjóðastofnanir, sem að sumu leyti er ekkert nýtt, en á hinn bóginn heyrast einnig raddir sem skora á hólm grundvallarmannréttindi, og grunnreglur lýðræðis og réttarríkis.<br /> <br /> Þar þarf draga línu í sandinn – og þar eiga Norðurlöndin, hér eftir sem hingað til, að vera sterk rödd. <br /> <br /> Ég hlakka til umræðunnar hér á eftir. <br /> <br /> <br /> <br /> <br /> <br /> <br />
29. október 2018Blá ör til hægriRæða ráðherra á ráðstefnu Atlantshafsbandalagsins um afvopnun og takmörkun á útbreiðslu gereyðingarvopnaThe 14th Annual NATO Conference on WMD Arms Control, Disarmament and Non-Proliferation in Reykjavik, Iceland<br /> 29 October 2018<br /> Address by H.E. Mr. Guðlaugur Þór Þórðarson, Minister for Foreign Affairs<br /> <br /> Deputy Secretary General, Distinguished participants, Ladies and Gentlemen,<br /> <br /> It gives me a great pleasure to welcome you to Reykjavik. We are honoured to host the 14th NATO Annual Conference on Weapons of Mass Destruction, Arms Control, Disarmament and Non-Proliferation.<br /> <br /> This annual Conference has been an important venue for dialogue between NATO and its partners on how to best take the arms control agenda forward for the benefit of peace and a safer world.<br /> <br /> It is sometimes said that we in Iceland should not worry too much when it comes to the horrors of war, conflicts and acts of terrorism as Iceland enjoys the luxury of distance, far out in the ocean and not so accessible. I wish, this was true, but the reality is that no state in the global community has this luxury anymore, if there ever was one. This is why the subject matter of this conference is of great importance to us all.<br /> <br /> Iceland is unique as it has no national armed forces. That does not mean that we are not realistic. We have chosen to membership in NATO, we have a bilateral defence agreement with the United States and are participating in Nordic Defence Cooperation. Iceland´s strategic location in the North Atlantic and the infrastructure we can offer to our Allies and Partners is our main contribution to safeguarding peace and security as is fundamental commitment to the principles of freedom and democracy (prosperity).<br /> <br /> These principles are challenged every day in every corner of the world.<br /> We have our own perspective on security developments in our region and the world. <br /> The new National Security Policy for Iceland from 2016, which enjoys cross-party support and sets the framework for the security and defence policy of our broadly-based coalition Government. This policy is certainly timely when we are facing growing instability and serious worldwide challenges to our common security.<br /> <br /> In our part of the world it is important to underline that the game changer, the precursor to the growing threat to the European Security Architecture, the Russia´s readiness to use its modernized military forces unilaterally outside its borders, so aggressively reflected in Russia´s annexation of Crimea and its direct support for separatists in the Eastern-Ukraine. It goes without saying that we have seen this increased assertiveness of Russia and destructive behaviour in the field of arms control, disarmament and non – proliferation.<br /> <br /> As reflected in our National Security Policy, where arms control is a key component, Iceland takes these attempts to undermine the existing arms control and disarmament arrangements very seriously. The accelerating negative trends regarding some of our most important agreements makes this conference particularly relevant. The need for preserving what we have in this field and progressively addressing new challenges in the area of disarmament are of paramount importance in strengthening global stability and security in a realistic and constructive way.<br /> <br /> I might sound pessimistic, but of course there also many examples of positive progress in our global community, like in poverty eradication and greater awareness on gender issues to name but two.<br /> <br /> Even in the wide field of arms control, disarmament and non-proliferation there are promising examples of success such as the Arms Trade Treaty. However, when it comes to weapons of mass destruction there are not many positive signs on the horizon, actually quite the opposite.<br /> <br /> The nuclear weapons issue is now dominant as the existing bilateral agreements of the “nuclear superpowers” are eroding at the same time as the danger of proliferation is on the rise. There is an urgent need to re-establish the priority of negotiated solutions for this category of weapons, at least to preserve the status quo and more importantly to progress towards better agreements.<br /> <br /> This is relevant in the bilateral agreements between the United States and Russia, both the INF and the New Start Treaty. The nuclear disarmament of North Korea would be a huge boost to better security if successful and so far, this is the most positive sign in the fight against non – proliferation.<br /> <br /> Iceland considers that the Non-proliferation treaty should continue to be the cornerstone of disarmament efforts in the nuclear field. If we are ever to reach the goal of nuclear weapons free world, the countries which have nuclear arsenals must commit and those outside join the treaty. Under current circumstances the international community should limit its ambition to safeguarding the existing commitments.<br /> <br /> Supporting mechanisms such as the Comprehensive Test Ban treaty, the Missile Technology Control Regime and Nuclear Suppliers Group are as relevant to fighting proliferation as ever.<br /> <br /> It has been a pleasure and positive experience for Iceland to co-chair the MTCR with our Irish friends during the past 12 months and this has for us brought home the importance of multilateral cooperation in tackling proliferation.<br /> <br /> Apart from nuclear weapons the integrity and validity of the other landmark treaty concerning weapons of mass destruction, the Chemical Weapons Convention, is being put to the test. The use of chemical weapons in Syria, in Salisbury and in Malaysia is deplorable and the Convention´s applicability to counter such heinous attacks must be strengthened.<br /> <br /> Impunity in such cases is unacceptable.<br /> <br /> Although I have touched upon only few aspects of the challenges related to proliferation and uses of weapons of mass destruction, there are many areas were ongoing work is promising, for example in verification, combating nuclear terrorism and last but not least on a treaty concerning fissile material. However, we do not have all the time in the world.<br /> <br /> There is an urgent need to apply more energy, more creative thinking and even more resources to the disarmament and arms control efforts, not only about weapons of mass destruction but also on conventional weapons, emerging technologies and hybrid threats. <br /> <br /> Kofi Annan, the late UN Secretary General was absolutely right when he in 2006 described small arms and light weapons as weapons of mass destruction. The new disarmament agenda of Secretary General Guterres should be an impetus to reinvigorated pragmatic and constructive work on disarmament.<br /> <br /> When I see the experienced and creative people here, I´m confident that this Conference will provide us politicians with good advice and concrete ideas on how to move forward, towards a world free from the threat posed by nuclear weapons and other weapons of mass destruction. My challenge to you is – Rekindle the spirit of the Reykjavik Summit 1986, the spirit that delivered the INF treaty and great progress in nuclear disarmament.<br /> <br /> Thank you and I wish you well.
21. október 2018Blá ör til hægriLokaávarp utanríkisráðherra á Hringborði norðurslóða í HörpuConcluding remarks at the Arctic Circle Assembly 21 Oct 2018 <br /> <br /> Together for a sustainable Arctic:&nbsp;<br /> Towards Iceland’s 2019 – 2021 Arctic Council Chairmanship<br /> Address by the Foreign Minister of Iceland, Mr. Guðlaugur Þór Þórðarson<br /> <br /> Former President of Iceland, Mr. Ólafur Ragnar Grímsson, excellencies, ladies and gentlemen. <br /> <br /> Congratulations on a yet another successful Arctic Circle Assembly and let me pay a particular tribute to Mr. Ólafur Ragnar Grímsson and his collaborators for succeeding, once again, in attracting some 2.000 participants from all over the world to Reykjavík on this occasion, and for his valuable contribution in raising awareness of the Arctic region and for strengthening global and regional cooperation through this Assembly. Mr. Grímsson, dear Ólafur, your vision for the Arctic is truly an inspiration to us all.<br /> <br /> In a relatively short period of time, the Arctic has transformed from a region primarily characterized by isolation, cold and darkness, into a region buzzing with innovation and opportunities. The Arctic has become a focus point for the international community, attracting attention from all over the world from scientists and researchers, businesses and industries, international agencies and non-governmental organizations alike.<br /> <br /> All are eagerly looking north to see what the future might bring for the Arctic as development and environmental changes in the region will affect not only the Arctic populations but a much bigger community worldwide. We, Icelanders, like to believe that we enjoy a special position in the Arctic - being a Member State of the Arctic Council and situated entirely within the boundaries of the region. Arctic affairs touch upon almost all aspects of Icelandic society and the increased interest and activity in the Arctic brings about both opportunities and challenges when it comes to reconciling the environment and modern ways of life. <br /> <br /> Arctic affairs are a top priority in Iceland's foreign policy. My government particularly emphasizes matters relating to the ocean, energy, social and economic development and, last but not least, the climate. These policy priority areas of the Icelandic government will find resonance in the priorities that are currently being outlined for the coming Icelandic Chairmanship of the Arctic Council.<br /> <br /> The Arctic warms at more than twice the global rate and Arctic warming trends are expected to continue towards mid-century. Scientists tell us that trends after 2050 will depend on today’s mitigation actions. The latest report from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change spells out very clearly that there is no way to mitigate climate change without taking drastic actions. Addressing climate and environmental issues is, therefore, of utmost importance for Governments of the Arctic States.<br /> <br /> My Government is strongly committed to the Paris Agreement and our goal is even more ambitious than envisaged in the Agreement. Last month, we announced a new Climate Strategy. With this strategy we intend to boost our efforts in cutting net emissions and in land-use change and forestry. The new measures are intended to help Iceland meet its Paris Agreement targets for 2030 and to reach the government‘s ambitious aim to make Iceland carbon neutral before 2040. <br /> <br /> Ladies and gentlemen.<br /> <br /> Iceland is taking on responsibilities in the international fora. Iceland recently took a seat on the United Nations Human Rights Council for the first time and, next summer, Iceland will be taking over an Executive Director’s position on the board of the World Bank Group. Furthermore, in January, Iceland will assume the Chairmanship of the Nordic Council of Ministers, the Nordic-Baltic cooperation and the cooperation of Foreign Ministers of the five Nordic countries. Last but not least, Iceland will be taking over the chairmanship of the Arctic Council next spring. <br /> <br /> International efforts carried out in these fora, be it human rights, including indigenous rights, financing for development, environmental protection, innovation and social well-being - to mention only a few - have a direct relevance for the Arctic agenda. In line with Iceland’s Arctic policy, we will actively seek opportunities to raise the profile of the Arctic region during our respective chairmanships.<br /> <br /> Finland currently holds Chairmanship of the Arctic Council and next spring it will be Iceland’s turn to lead the Council’s work for two years, followed by Russia in 2021. Chairing the Arctic Council brings a unique and much welcomed opportunity for us to lead the collaboration between the Member States, the Permanent Participants and the Observers within the Council - and we very much look forward to doing that. <br /> <br /> In the spirit of the Ottawa declaration that founded the Arctic Council twenty-two years ago, sustainable development will be the guiding light in our Chairmanship program. Sustainable development can be compared to a three leaved clover because social, environmental and economic sustainability must go together. That is why we must strive for economic prosperity and social well-being in a strong and healthy Arctic environment. <br /> <br /> <br /> Most inhabitants in the Arctic region live in close proximity to nature and must deal with challenging environmental conditions. This is our reality here in Iceland. We rely extensively on the nature of our country for our livelihood, be it fishing, tourism, energy production or agriculture. With sustainable development as our guiding principle we have built a prosperous society. Through the rich and diverse cultures that the circumpolar Arctic region harbors, together, we can build thriving, sustainable societies for all, based on knowledge sharing, innovation and hard work. It is not least for this reason that we are interested in establishing and formalizing cooperation between the Arctic Council and the Arctic Economic Council. <br /> <br /> We are still working on our draft chairmanship plan. It will be presented at the upcoming SAO meeting in Rovaniemi at the beginning of next month and further developed with our Arctic Council partners over the next months. It would, therefore, be premature to introduce individual projects here today but I can share with you our broader points of departure. <br /> <br /> As you know, the Arctic region consists mainly of the Arctic Ocean and it should not come as a surprise to anyone – given Iceland’s geographic location - that the oceans will figure amongst the priorities that we have identified for our Chairmanship program. Furthermore, we intend to put focus on climate issues and green solutions in the energy sector. In addition, the well-being of Arctic inhabitants and viable Arctic communities will be amongst Iceland’s Arctic emphasis. <br /> <br /> Ladies and gentlemen.<br /> <br /> We are dependent on a close and peaceful cooperation that stretches across borders and boundaries. The Arctic region is, in fact, governed in a cooperative manner - not least on the basis of the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea. Peaceful cooperation in the Arctic should continue to be at the forefront for us as we better realize the ever-growing changes in the region. <br /> <br /> The Arctic Council has been an important venue for political dialogue and peaceful cooperation in the Arctic region. The Council’s clear mandate, with its regional focus on sustainable development in the Arctic, has allowed it to continue its work, irrespective of global political tensions. It is not least for this reason that the Arctic Council has such an important role to play and I attach great emphasis to continued good cooperation in the Council.<br /> <br /> A fundamental point in Iceland’s Arctic policy is to support, and strengthen, the Arctic Council. We want to cooperate with other relevant states, and nations, to strengthen the Council, and give it a more assertive role. Enhanced cooperation with the Council’s Observers is one way of contributing to this goal. It is of utmost importance for both prosperity and security in the Arctic region to work with partners outside the region. <br /> <br /> Ladies and gentlemen,<br /> <br /> There are challenging and interesting tasks ahead of us and let me assure you that I am optimistic for the future of the Arctic region. If I were to choose only a few words that carry the most significance for the region’s well-being in the future, it would be peace and stability on the one hand, and sustainable development on the other.<br /> <br /> In my view, we have not only the interest but also the tools and the means to continue to work together for a sustainable and prosperous Arctic region. Thank you, and see you next year for the seventh Arctic Circle Assembly. <br /> <br />
20. október 2018Blá ör til hægriRæða ráðherra á viðburði um loftslagsbreytingar á norðurslóðum á Hringborði norðurslóðaIntroduction on Climate Change in Arctic Iceland, 20 Oct 2018<br /> by H.E. Mr. Guðlaugur Þór Þórðarson, <br /> Minister for Foreign Affairs of Iceland<br /> Harpa Reykjavik <br /> <br /> Ladies and gentlemen,<br /> <br /> Let me start by welcoming you all to this breakout session on climate change in Arctic Iceland. It gives me great pleasure to be here with you today, to take part in the important conversation about climate change and to get the opportunity to listen to our exceptional scientists and speakers in the panel. <br /> <br /> On that note, I must point out that for such a small country like Iceland, with a population of 350.000, we can be proud of our many cutting-edge scientists that have contributed greatly towards scientific research in the Arctic region. <br /> <br /> The Arctic region has, in the past few years, become one of the big focus points for the international community, with scientists and researchers to businesses and industries all looking north as environmental changes and development will affect not only the Arctic population but a much bigger community worldwide. <br /> <br /> We, the inhabitants of the Arctic, are already witnessing the consequences of climate change. In Iceland, the rising ocean temperatures have already led to changes in the migration patterns of fish stocks around the country. Rising temperatures, along with the acidification of the ocean and increasing pollution, are genuine threats that need to be taken seriously. <br /> <br /> Therefore, for us in the Arctic, perseverance and resilience need to be at the forefront as sustainability continues to be an important trait for our existence as we learn to adapt to a changing climate. <br /> <br /> The Arctic is a key foreign policy priority in Iceland, based on a parliamentary resolution from 2011, and there is a broad consensus on Arctic issues across the political spectrum in Iceland. The Government of Iceland has also made the fight against climate change a priority with the ambitious aim of making Iceland carbon neutral before 2040. <br /> <br /> We, Icelanders, are already fortunate enough to enjoy an almost carbon free electricity and heating using geothermal and hydro energy, but we can always do better. <br /> <br /> Last month we announced our new Climate Strategy, which boosts our efforts in cutting net emissions and in-land use change and forestry. The new strategy is aimed to help Iceland meet the Paris-Agreement targets for 2030. <br /> <br /> Amongst the thirty-four government measures in the new Strategy are banning the sale of new fossil fuel cars by 2030 as well as plans to transform the transportation system in Iceland from using imported fossil fuels to a carbon free system based on renewable energy sources. Increased funding for climate mitigation measures has already been secured by the Icelandic government.<br /> <br /> Ladies and gentlemen,<br /> <br /> I look forward to hearing what our great panellists have to say and to a good discussion on the ever-important issue of climate change. <br />
20. október 2018Blá ör til hægriRæða ráðherra í viðburði Vestnorræna ráðsins á Hringborði norðurslóða um sviptingar í alþjóðastjórnmálum og áhrif þeirra á vestnorræna svæðiðNew Geo-Political Reality in the West Nordic Area<br /> by<br /> H.E. Mr. Guðlaugur Þór Þórðarson, <br /> Minister for Foreign Affairs of Iceland<br /> Harpa Reykjavik at 11.45<br /> <br /> Thank you Sigurður, distinguished colleagues, dear guests. <br /> <br /> The old saying that “the only constant is change” certainly applies to international affairs. We live in times characterized not only by continuous change, but also growing speed and complexity. <br /> <br /> I believe this is true for international peace and security, where we are faced with new threats, as well as with environmental challenges where global climate change is a leading factor in the melting of glaciers and sea ice, and dramatic fluctuations in weather - triggering floods and draughts alike. <br /> <br /> We live in an interconnected world where isolation is not an option. We are, at the end of the day, all on the same boat when it comes to ensuring peace and security, economic prosperity and stability, and sustainable development as the recent UN IPCC report aptly describes.<br /> <br /> But, unfortunately, being in the same boat does not necessarily entail that we all row in the same direction. International affairs are also shaped by different interests and diverging ideas. <br /> <br /> We, the West Nordic nations, live in and represent a large area in the world - an area of growing economic and political interest among major powers as witnessed by this year’s Arctic Circle. <br /> <br /> How should we respond? Well – we can start by identifying what we want, where our interests lie, and what binds us together. Subsequently, we should lead by example and organize our regional co-operation around these common interests: free trade, scientific research, sustainable development, as we have done successfully in the past – to name only a few subject areas. <br /> <br /> I also believe we should continue to emphasize that our regions, the North-Atlantic and the Arctic, do not become an area for re-armament. We want low-tension in the High North, but we also want to avoid a security vacuum and ensure full situational awareness. We should be a voice in support of human rights, the rule of law and the rule-based international order. <br /> <br /> This we will emphasize during Iceland chairmanship in the Nordic Council of Ministers in 2019 and Foreign Minister´s co-operation of the Nordics and the Nordic-Baltic, as well as in our Arctic Council Chairmanship, which starts in May next year. <br /> <br /> Dear friends,<br /> <br /> Geopolitical realities in international affairs have always been uncertain and ever-changing. Some things were better, other things were worse. The fact is, that states have been and will be constant caretakers of their own interests, and the world has for centuries seen great powers rise and fall in the quest for a balance of power. <br /> <br /> What is new, as I mentioned in the beginning, is the complexity, the speed, and the almost immediate impact of events. At the same time, we are better equipped than ever before in our history to understand the challenges and to respond to them. <br /> <br /> I wish you a fruitful discussion. <br /> <br /> <br />
02. október 2018Blá ör til hægriRæða ráðherra á rakarastofuráðstefnu hjá Efnahags- og framfarastofnun Evrópu (OECD)Barbershop Conference<br /> OECD, Paris<br /> 2 October 1, 2018<br /> <br /> Statement by <br /> H.E. Mr. Guðlaugur Þór Þórðarson,<br /> Minister for Foreign Affairs of Iceland<br /> <br /> Ladies and gentlemen,<br /> <br /> Thank you all for being with us today at this Barbershop conference. It shows that you are dedicated to gender equality and that you are willing to be a part of the change. <br /> <br /> It has been a man’s world for a long time and now it’s time that it becomes a gender equal world. <br /> <br /> I was raised by a strong mother who worked full time when most mothers worked part-time or stayed at home. My father was the caring type who usually made us dinner. I didn’t realize it until later how progressive my family really was. <br /> <br /> A lot has changed since I was growing up, but there is still room for improvement. In Iceland for example we have come a long way and we have a great record as one of the most gender equal countries in the world. <br /> <br /> We had the first democratically elected female head of state almost 40 years ago, madame Vigdís Finnbogadóttir. She has been an inspiration to my generation and others, both to men and women. She probably inspired my current boss, the Prime Minister of Iceland, Katrín Jakobsdóttir, leading our government. <br /> <br /> Still, complicated challenges remain, both in Iceland and in other parts of the world. In Iceland, we have put in place laws to ensure equal representation in boards but the action is yet to be translated into more female CEOs. We also have a new law to enforce a decade old legislation on equal pay, but we still need to address the labour market segregation that contributes largely to the absolute gender pay gap. If we want to close the gap, we need to change social norms. We must ensure equal opportunities and an equal chance to make the most of them, regardless of gender.<br /> <br /> It never occurred to me to think of women as any less capable than men. And as men sometimes do, I found a partner who, just like my mother, is a strong hard-working woman; an entrepreneur. <br /> <br /> Together we are raising four amazing children, two girls and two boys. I have also become a grandfather to a baby girl. I truly am a rich man. Despite my sometimes hectic life as a politician I make every effort to be there for my family. We are a close family and just like my dad, my favourite time is when I have the chance to cook the Sunday roast at our home for the whole family. This is one benefit of gender equality – we men get to be equal in the home and in our families.<br /> <br /> I am not advocating for gender equality solely for my mother, my wife, my daughters or my granddaughter. We know from our experience that gender equality brings benefits to all of us. Also to men. <br /> <br /> Various studies show that more gender equality equals a happier, healthier life for everyone. I often say that men should work hard to build a gender equal society so that they can live longer to be able to enjoy a few more games of soccer over a pint of beer. But that’s just a joke of course – health and happiness are indeed worth striving for. <br /> <br /> Equal participation also translates to a more sustainable peace – when you include women in peace processes, you are both more likely to reach an agreement to end the conflict and to sustain that peace.<br /> <br /> For many years the parliament has been my workplace. There I have had the good fortune of working with inspiring men and women from across the political spectrum. In my experience, it has improved the political debate to have a more equal representation. <br /> <br /> In politics I have had great female mentors and I have also gotten the chance to guide many aspiring women. Such respectful communication between men and women are genuinely enriching. <br /> <br /> We have had a Barbershop conference in the parliament. It opened up a dialogue between men and women on what we could do better. I think our discussion was quite eye-opening and that is what I hope for our session here today. <br /> <br /> At this Barbershop conference today, we are taking a small step but an important one. Our 90 minutes session will not bring gender equality to the entire world, but it is important to look closer to home, at the culture within the OECD. <br /> <br /> Today we want to look at the OECD as a workplace and as a place that has an influence on policy-making in a large part of the world. Iceland is already working on the policy side with the OECD, sharing our experience and learning from others. <br /> <br /> In our discussion we will hopefully exchange views and have frank conversations and in the process we will better understand ourselves and our peers. <br /> I wish you a fruitful discussion and a sharp Barbershop.<br /> <br /> Thank you. <br /> <br /> <br />
28. september 2018Blá ör til hægriRæða utanríkisráðherra á 73. allsherjarþingi Sameinuðu þjóðanna<span>Madame President,<br /> <br /> The United Nations has played a critical role in promoting peace and development for all. Most indices, measuring human development tell a positive story - a story of our shared success. It is a story we should tell more often.<br /> <br /> Technological advances and social and economic progress, we never envisioned, have become a reality. This gives us hope that mankind can once again prove that no challenge is too big to overcome - that we are right to dream big.&nbsp;<br /> <br /> But dreams will only come true with hard work and determination. And our common goals will only be achieved through international co-operation and by accelerating the pace of progress significantly. The United Nations is the most important platform we have for this vital co-operation.<br /> <br /> Iceland is a small country with high ambitions. A gender equal world is one of those. We have a solid record as one of the most gender equal countries in the world. This only happened through the hard work of women pioneers who changed our politics and our law to empower all women in Iceland. In good cooperation with a few good men, of course.&nbsp;<br /> <br /> More needs to be done at home, but we stand ready to share our experience with other states. Gender equality is a master-key to unlocking sustainable development in all countries in line with the goals of Agenda 2030.<br /> <br /> Another goal of ours, is to make sure that future generations will thank us, you and me, for having worked hard to save them from the worst consequences of climate change.&nbsp; In the Arctic, Iceland sits in the front row witnessing disappearing ice-caps and changing ecology.&nbsp; In the drier parts of the globe, desertification continues and causes serious challenges for people’s livelihoods.<br /> <br /> There is no doubt in my mind that climate change is fast becoming the single most serious challenge to global peace, security and development. While technology will be a big part of the solution with electric cars and renewable energy fuelling our economies, we will also need to nurture our soil and restore our land in fighting climate change.<br /> <br /> This is reflected in the ambitious new climate strategy of the Government of Iceland, put in place to meet our Paris Agreement targets for 2030 and make Iceland carbon neutral by 2040.&nbsp; Already, all electricity and heating in Iceland is produced from renewable resources. Our plan aims to phase out fossil fuels in transport and increase afforestation and restoration of wetlands.<br /> <br /> We join a coalition of other countries that have already put such plans in place because, again, the only way forward is through co-operation. High-income countries must do their share to reduce emissions and help low-income countries adapt to the effects of climate change. In the end, our reaction to climate change has more to do with self-preservation than self-sacrifice.&nbsp;<br /> <br /> Sustainable development, with particular emphasis on the oceans, climate and energy, and social and economic development will be among the guiding principles of Iceland’s chairmanship of the Arctic Council from 2019 to 2021. The Council has shown remarkable leadership in promoting sustainable development and practical co-operation in the High North and could be used as a model for other regions of the world, as local actions can drive global change.&nbsp;&nbsp;<br /> <br /> Madame President,<br /> <br /> Iceland is firmly committed to Agenda 2030, with its inclusive and bottom-up approach to development. It is a key policy priority for our government with a strong ownership and participation of both the private sector and civil society. We look forward to the upcoming Iceland’s Voluntary National Review in 2019 and are hoping for a constructive feedback - encouraging us to do better.&nbsp;&nbsp;<br /> <br /> Healthy oceans and sustainable fisheries will remain at the core of Iceland´s foreign policy. To reach our goal on healthy oceans, all nations must join hands. The Convention on the Law of Sea and its implementing agreements provide a tried and tested framework for the work ahead. Through our experience, we have learned that the most effective approach to conservation and sustainable use of marine resources is the regional approach. This should also be the main approach in the new BBNJ-implementing agreement, currently being negotiated.&nbsp;<br /> <br /> In the field of marine resource management, we stand ready to share our expertise with others. The same applies to gender equality, green energy and land restoration, all of which are a part of the UN training programmes in Iceland. Almost 5.000 experts from 100 countries have been trained since the first program was established almost forty years ago.&nbsp;&nbsp;<br /> <br /> This has been made possible because this knowledge was fostered by Icelandic institutions and private companies, not least within the fishery and energy sectors. Development, trade and business can and should go hand in glove in implementing Agenda 2030, and we are pleased to note that the UN is taking concrete steps in making such partnerships stronger, bringing energy, innovation and know-how into national and global efforts.&nbsp;<br /> <br /> In the past few decades we have also seen incredible advances in medicine. These advances have enabled us to live longer despite increasingly unhealthy lifestyles. Yesterday, we vowed to actively co-operate for the prevention of non-communicable deceases and the promotion of healthy lifestyles.<br /> <br /> One neglected issue is neurological disorders, including spinal cord injuries, that affect a billion people worldwide. The Nordic countries are working towards a common research database on neurological disorders to facilitate medical advances in this area. We encourage others to do the same as, yet again, co-operation will be key to success.&nbsp;<br /> <br /> Madame President,<br /> <br /> Earlier this year, Iceland took a seat on the Human Rights Council for the first time. It was a proud moment for us, joining the Council at a time when Iceland celebrates our nation’s 100 years of sovereignty and the 70 years anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.&nbsp;<br /> <br /> We believe that human rights express the core purpose of the United Nations. Advancing the dignity and equality of all human beings must be our fundamental goal. Only that way can we attain peace, security and sustainable development for all societies. We firmly believe that upholding human rights is in the interest of every state.&nbsp;<br /> <br /> The Human Rights Council should be the standard bearer for respecting, protecting and promoting human rights around the globe. Its member states must be willing to improve human rights in their own backyard - so our criticism does not fall on deaf ears. We will strive for improving the Human Rights Council through dialogue and co-operation.<br /> <br /> Our priorities also revolve around promoting women’s human rights and safeguarding our children’s rights and freedom from violence. We will work to advance the human rights of LGBTI individuals and, lastly, focus on the connection between climate change and human rights.&nbsp;<br /> <br /> Iceland’s history underlines that the prosperity and well-being of nations is, to a large extent, dependent upon protecting and promoting the rights of our citizens – including civil, political, economic and cultural rights. As a part of our commitment to human rights, Iceland’s new development cooperation strategy will incorporate a human rights-based approach. This means that further steps will now be taken to ensure that our development strategies and projects are formulated, implemented and evaluated with human rights at the forefront.<br /> <br /> Madame President,<br /> <br /> It is better to light a candle than to curse the darkness. The United Nations is the heart of international co-operation but, to reach our common goals, more efficient and effective United Nations is what is called for.<br /> <br /> Iceland strongly supports the reform agenda of the Secretary General, making our organisation, which was built in a different era, fit to meet the challenges and opportunities of the 21st century. We should continue to seek ways to reform the Security Council, its working methods and membership. It should not be held hostage by narrow national interests when our house is on fire. We need to show more unity.<br /> <br /> Despite the progress we have made in every field, there are still difficult conflicts to be resolved. Even today, in the year of 2018, we are witnessing the use of chemical weapons, ethnic cleansing, war crimes, forced migration and other horrors, which should be echoes from a distant past - not everyday news.<br /> <br /> The Syrian war has left the country in ruins, over 400.000 people dead and almost half the population displaced. A political solution continues to be the only viable path towards winning the peace. In Yemen we are witnessing a conflict that is fast becoming the worst humanitarian crisis in the world and there seems to be no end in sight as regional powerhouses continue to fuel the fires of war.<br /> <br /> The issue of Western Sahara remains unresolved and the same applies to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. The disregard for the sovereignty and territorial integrity of Ukraine and Georgia remain a wound in the European security architecture. We witness the mounting challenges in Venezuela and continue to receive reports on horrors committed against the Rohingya population in Myanmar. We must act and make full use of the tools available to hold those responsible to account, including before the International Criminal Court.<br /> <br /> All these conflicts become even more disconcerting when we consider that almost 250 million children are being affected - casting a long shadow into their future. These conflict-stricken areas and other emergencies are also driving the greatest refugee crisis since the end of the Second World War and call for a co-ordinated response, which we hope the Global Compact for Refugees will be able to deliver.<br /> <br /> Madame President,&nbsp;<br /> <br /> The multilateral system, the very foundation of prosperity and peace, is under strain from new and challenging political agendas where simple answers are provided to complex questions - favouring strongman politics over diplomacy, free trade, democracy and human rights.&nbsp;&nbsp;<br /> <br /> We need to stand by our convictions and principles, both at home and abroad, while addressing some of the legitimate grievances of our citizens. Iceland has been increasing its contributions to UN programmes and funds. We will continue to support the United Nations and stand by its founding values and principles.<br /> <br /> Madame President,<br /> <br /> December 1st 2018 marks the centenary of Iceland’s independence and sovereignty. This period has been characterised by rapid economic growth and social development - giving birth to a society that scores high on almost all development indices.<br /> <br /> One could be tempted to say that this success was all our own making and fortune, but that would be far from the truth.&nbsp; The bedrock of our independence and success has been the international rule-based order with its open market, free-trade, multilateral institutions, liberal democracy and international co-operation.&nbsp;<br /> <br /> This foundation should never be taken for granted and it falls on us, the member states of the United Nations, to make sure the future generations can enjoy the same benefits.&nbsp;&nbsp;<br /> <br /> Thank you, Madame President.&nbsp;&nbsp;<br /> <br /> </span>
27. september 2018Blá ör til hægriRæða utanríkisráðherra á fundi um lofslagsmál í Sameinuðu þjóðunumCarbon Neutrality Coalition (CNC) Inaugural High-Level Meeting<br /> 27. september 2018, 13:15-14:30<br /> Höfuðstöðvar SÞ, Conference Room 7<br /> <br /> My Government is strongly committed to the Paris Climate Agreement and our goal is to go even further than is envisaged in the Paris Agreement. At the One Planet Summit in Paris last year, we committed to developing a long-term implementation strategy by 2020, possibly sooner.<br /> <br /> The Government decided to prioritize this urgent issue and, earlier this month, we announced a new Climate Strategy. With this strategy we intend to boost efforts in cutting net emissions and in land-use change and forestry. The new measures are to help Iceland meet its Paris Agreement targets for 2030 and reach the government‘s ambitious aim to make Iceland carbon neutral before 2040.<br /> <br /> The Strategy consists of thirty-four government measures, ranging from an increase in afforestation to a banning the sale of new fossil fuel cars by 2030. The plan aims to transform the transportation system from using imported fossil fuels to a carbon-free system run on renewable energy.<br /> <br /> An important part of our strategy is the period of consultation with industry, municipalities and civil society on how to implement the strategy and individual actions. Furthermore, the plan will also be subject to public consultation, and an updated Strategy will be published in 2019, taking into account comments and suggestions by civil society. The main emphasis of the new plan is on two measures - to phase out fossil fuels in transport and to increase carbon binding by afforestation, revegetation and restoration of wetlands.<br /> <br /> The Government has secured substantial increase in funding for climate mitigation measures in the period 2019 – 2023 and a general carbon tax, already in place, will be gradually increased. Iceland already enjoys virtually carbon-free electricity and heating, thanks to its utilization of geothermal and hydro energy. Fossil fuels are used in transport and fisheries, and now the aim is set for a push in decarbonizing those sectors.<br /> <br /> Among the measures announced in the new plan are: increases in government support for charging stations and other infrastructure for electrical transport and other clean fuels; support for biofuel production; a strengthening of already generous subsidies for electrical cars and other clean vehicles; and support for public transport and bicycling.<br /> <br /> The strategy has been positively received by the public, in support of our clear determination to succeed in our goals in this most important issue.
26. september 2018Blá ör til hægriRæða utanríkisráðherra á hátíðarfundi í tilefni af 70 ára afmæli mannréttindayfirlýsingarinnarHigh Level Event to mark 70th Anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights<br /> A Prevention Tool to Achieve Peace and Sustainable Development<br /> Statement by Guðlaugur Þór Þórðarson<br /> Minister for Foreign Affairs of Iceland<br /> New York, 26 September 2018<br /> <br /> Mr. Secretary-General, ladies and gentlemen,<br /> <br /> This year Iceland celebrates the centenary of becoming a free and sovereign nation. We have emphasized freedom and democracy from the outset and striven to honor the fundamental values of human rights. Through the progress we have made, we have seen how increased respect for the human rights of all, and more equal participation of each and every person in our society, has underpinned prosperity and well-being.<br /> <br /> The lessons we have drawn from our own history and from the history of the last seventy years is that only through international cooperation, by promoting human rights and democracy and working towards a more equal world, can we maintain peace and prosperity. An inclusive peace has proven to be a more lasting peace – a message that Iceland emphasises in the United Nations Human Rights Council where we have recently taken a seat.<br /> <br /> The birth of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights was a landmark event in this context. It is the foundation document for our efforts to promote human rights and equality for all, as well as sustainable development.<br /> <br /> Unfortunately, we seem to be witnessing an erosion of respect for the principles of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. It is no coincidence that this development has brought uncertainty and anxiety – deep down we all know that without focus on human rights we will find it hard to improve our world and reach peace where there is currently none.<br /> <br /> Only by respecting the principles in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights can we ensure a more peaceful future.<br /> <br /> Thank you.<br />
24. september 2018Blá ör til hægriRæða ráðherra á fundi um pyndingar í Sameinuðu þjóðunum Global Alliance to end trade in goods used for capital punishment and torture<br /> Mánudagur 24. september 2018, kl. 15-17<br /> Höfuðstöðvum Sameinuðu þjóðanna<br /> <br /> Thank you for giving me the floor and our thanks to the organizers for bringing us together here today.<br /> <br /> Iceland is pleased to be among the signatories of the political declaration that is the foundation of our group. We are committed to working with all of you, for the human rights of all, by ending trade in goods to be used for capital punishment, torture and other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment.<br /> <br /> We were pleased to participate in the meeting that took place in Brussels this summer to discuss how we can further work together and put this commitment into practice. Allow me to thank the European Union for convening us and to all partners, including civil society, for their contribution.<br /> <br /> The co-operation in this group, and with civil society, will surely assist us in delivering on our commitment by identifying new products that should belong among those which are banned, as well as in cooperating on the full implementation of the political declaration.<br /> <br /> International law prohibits torture in all circumstances. It is important to provide no discount on this absolute. In Iceland we have taken appropriate acting by adopting a directive that makes it clear that no one can export any product, technology or service from Iceland that can be used for torture or with the execution of the death penalty. Violating this directive can result in fines and imprisonment up to 6 years if they are severe. <br /> <br /> Although dual use technology products can be difficult to tackle, we have approached it with of caution and included those in the directive. These products are not normal merchandise to be traded with impunity.<br /> <br /> Horrific stories of torture should urge us on - no one should be subjected to what we are discussing here today. We must all do our part and Iceland is committed to this cause.<br /> <br /> I thank you<br />
24. september 2018Blá ör til hægriRæða ráðherra á fundi um nútímaþrælahald í Sameinuðu þjóðunumA Call to Action to End Forced Labour, Modern Slavery and Human Trafficking<br /> Viðburður í boði forsætisráðherra Bretlands<br /> 24. september 2018, kl. 11-12:30<br /> Staðsetning: Höfuðstöðvar SÞ, Conference Room 4<br /> <br /> Thank you for convening this meeting to address this challenge and Iceland fully supports the Call to Action to End Forced Labour, Modern Slavery and Human Trafficking.<br /> <br /> Slavery is not a problem of the past. Modern slavery remains widespread in all parts of the world. It is in clear violation of our laws. The Icelandic Government is actively working on eliminating this practice through better co-operation mechanisms and stronger supervision measures of the Icelandic labour market in cooperation with the labour unions. <br /> <br /> Mr. President,<br /> <br /> The fight against forced labour, modern slavery and human trafficking requires a global response, and we have raised this in the Human Rights Council where Iceland currently holds a seat. We will continue to advocate for a coherent multidimensional and multi-actor response both at the regional and international level.<br /> <br /> This type of criminality causes its victims in particular women and girls great suffering, and constitutes a challenge to the entire international community.<br /> <br /> Thank you.<br />
18. september 2018Blá ör til hægriIceland-China relations will continue to strengthen<p><span>This year Iceland celebrates its centenary as a sovereign nation. This is an auspicious moment to reflect on the road we have taken and where we are headed.<br /> <br /> One of our most valuable lessons relates to the importance of free trade, efficient transportation and communication with other countries for growing prosperity. For a small island state, in the middle of the North Atlantic, it is of paramount importance to maintain close relations with its neighbors. At the same time, we must develop and cultivate friendly relations and trade with new partners further abroad.<br /> <br /> China is on the other side of the globe. Contacts between our countries were sporadic until the establishment of diplomatic relations in 1971. In recent years, we have deepened our political and commercial ties with China through regular consultations and cooperation.<br /> <br /> We have strengthened our cultural links and seen joint business ventures come to fruition. Our people-to-people contacts have expanded rapidly with Chinese tourists visiting Iceland in greater numbers. Both of our major airlines have shown keen interest in direct flights between China and Iceland-and possibly some Chinese airlines are thinking on the same lines.<br /> <br /> We welcome this development and are determined to strengthen our relations with China still further. This is the main reason for my visit to Beijing this month.<br /> <br /> In 2013, Iceland became the first country in Europe to conclude a free trade agreement with China. This milestone agreement has been a catalyst for increased trade between Iceland and China. It still has untapped potential, which we are eager to exploit. I am convinced that the addition of new seafood species and other categories of products will further increase our bilateral trade. Various agreements and cooperation between Iceland and China show the extent and breadth of our cooperation, including Arctic cooperation, geothermal energy utilization, scientific cooperation and culture.<br /> <br /> Next year, Iceland assumes the chairmanship of the Arctic Council, where China has an observer status. It will also spearhead Nordic cooperation in times of increasing Nordic-Chinese relations. Iceland recently took a seat in the United Nations Human Rights Council where we look forward to cooperating with China. Iceland, like China, was a founding member of the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank. Here, and in other multilateral forums, we could still further our mutual understanding and cooperation.<br /> <br /> I am pleased to note the importance that China attaches to environmental issues. We are impressed by China's commitments, both nationally and internationally, to address climate change and its strong support to the Paris Agreement. Here, I believe Iceland and China can cooperate even more closely together, not least through the utilization of geothermal resources, where Iceland has valuable expertise to offer.<br /> <br /> In a nutshell, the relations between Iceland and China are good and based on mutual respect and solid cooperation. This allows for our relations to develop and prosper.<br /> <br /> My government follows carefully and with interest the Belt and Road Initiative, including the "Silk Road on Ice", which is focused on opening up new shipping routes through the Arctic. Iceland supports its objectives to enhance connectivity between Europe and Asia. We agree that increased flow of people, businesses, capital and technologies will bring benefit to all. We are confident that our relations will continue to develop in this direction, including through our current bilateral arrangements.<br /> <br /> Iceland is linked with neighbouring economies in the North Atlantic through extensive communications network. As an island state, our communications network is based on shipping, air traffic and optical fiber cables. Further connections to other regions are of obvious interest to my country. Iceland approaches the Belt and Road Initiative with an open mind, observing how it continues to take shape and develop.<br /> <br /> I look forward to visiting China.</span></p> <p><em>Greinin birtist fyrst í kínverska dagblaðinu China Daily 6. september 2018</em></p>
17. september 2018Blá ör til hægri151 skref að enn betri utanríkisþjónustu<span></span> <p><span style="font-size: 14pt;">Í september í fyrra hófst umfangsmesta umbótaferli í sögu utanríkisþjónustunnar. Markmiðið var að íslenska þjóðin yrði hæfari til að grípa tækifæri framtíðarinnar og bregðast við áskorunum sem hún stendur frammi fyrir. Þetta var leiðarljósið í 151 tillögu skýrslunnar „Utanríkisþjónusta til framtíðar – hagsmunagæsla í síbreytilegum heimi“. Þar er sjónum beint að því hvernig best megi nýta mannauð og fjármuni á sveigjanlegan hátt og með skýrri forgangsröðun. Með samstilltu átaki hafa nú, ári síðar, yfir eitt hundrað tillögur þegar komið til framkvæmda. Þess sjást skýr merki í störfum okkar bæði heima og erlendis.</span></p> <p><span style="font-size: 14pt;">Ísland hefur ávallt byggt afkomu sína á útflutningi. Með breyttri heimsmynd og lífsháttum verðum við í enn ríkara mæli að reiða okkur á markaðsaðgengi erlendis fyrir íslenskar vörur, þjónustu og hugvit. Þessi megin forsenda viðhalds og vaxtar íslensks þjóðarbús er grunnstef áðurnefndrar skýrslu. Í samræmi við hana voru samþykkt lög um breytingar á stöðu Íslandsstofu og tilhögun fríverslunarviðræðna verið breytt. Viðskiptafulltrúi hefur verið ráðinn við sendiráðið í Japan og svipuð ráðning undirbúin við sendiráðið í Kanada. Í Afríku hefur sendiráðið í Úganda verið styrkt til að kortleggja viðskiptatækifæri í álfunni og gerðar hafa verið áætlanir um opnun viðskiptaskrifstofa á vesturströnd Bandaríkjanna og í Austur-Asíu. Í sumarbyrjun fór ég Japans til að þrýsta á um fríverslunarsamninginn og loftferðasamning og nýverið hélt ég til Kína til að fylgja eftir gildandi fríverslunarsamningi, íslenskum útflutningi til hagsbóta.&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp; </span></p> <p><span style="font-size: 14pt;">Sterkari staða innan EES hefur lengi verið markmið íslenskra stjórnvalda. Með útgáfu skýrslunnar „Gengið til góðs – skref í átt að bættri framkvæmd EES-samningsins“ og samþykki ríkisstjórnar um ráðstafanir horfir mjög til bóta. Þannig má nefna afturhvarf til þess að öll ráðuneyti hafi fulltrúa í Brussel til að efla íslenska yfirsýn og hagsmunagæslu. Vænti ég þess að sjá áþreifanlegan árangur af þessu á næstu misserum.</span></p> <p><span style="font-size: 14pt;">Öryggis- og varnarmál hafa aftur fengið þann sess sem hæfir fullvalda ríki og endurspeglar breyttar alþjóðlegar aðstæður. Varnarmálaskrifstofa hefur verið endurreist og framlög til öryggis- og varnarmála aukin sem gerir Íslandi betur kleift að standa við skuldbindingar hvað varðar eigin viðbúnað og gagnvart bandalagsríkjum.</span></p> <p><span style="font-size: 14pt;">Framlög til þróunarsamvinnu fara sömuleiðis vaxandi. Fljótlega verður lögð fram tillaga til þingsályktunar um alþjóðlega þróunarsamvinnu Íslands 2019-2023 þar sem áherslur okkar og áætlanir verða vel skilgreindar með heimsmarkmið Sameinuðu þjóðanna að leiðarljósi. Niðurstöður nýlegrar jafningjarýni á vegum þróunarsamvinnunefndar OECD eru afar jákvæðar.Þar erum við hvött til þess að nýta áfram sérþekkingu okkar í þágu fátækra þjóða, t.d. á sviði jarðhita og sjávarútvegs. Samstarf við íslenskt atvinnulíf hefur verið aukið og einkageirinn hvattur til fjárfestinga enda ljóst að heimsmarkmiðunum verður ekki einungis náð með opinberri þróunarsamvinnu. Senn munu svo sérstakir þróunarsamvinnufulltrúar hjá Sameinuðu þjóðunum og OECD sinna öflun og miðlun upplýsinga.</span></p> <p><span style="font-size: 14pt;">Undirbúningur formennsku Íslands í Norðurskautsráðinu 2019-2021 er kominn vel á veg og að sama skapi gengur vel að undirbúa formennsku Íslands í Norrænu ráðherranefndinni og samstarfi Norðurlanda og Eystrasaltsríkja. Það er krefjandi en jafnframt spennandi að takast slíkt á hendur og í því felast mikil tækifæri fyrir land og þjóð. Sama á við um setu Íslands í mannréttindaráði Sameinuðu þjóðanna næstu misserin en það er eitt stærsta verkefni á alþjóðavettvangi sem Ísland hefur undirgengist. Í framhaldinu bíða formennska Íslands í Evrópuráðinu 2022-2023 og hugsanleg&nbsp; seta í stjórn UNESCO 2021-2025.</span></p> <p><span style="font-size: 14pt;">Það er sérstakt metnaðarmál utanríkisþjónustunnar að aðstoða Íslendinga í vanda erlendis. Þegar hafa ýmsar tillögur skýrslunnar sem varða borgaraþjónustu verið framkvæmdar, t.d. varðandi útgáfu vegabréfa.. Kjörræðismenn Íslands um allan heim hafa lengi veitt ómetanlega aðstoð og svo verður áfram. Því til viðbótar er ætlunin að virkja þá betur í viðskiptaþjónustu með auknum stuðningi úr ráðuneytinu. </span></p> <p><span style="font-size: 14pt;">Á meðal annarra nýmæla má nefna að deild sendiherra og sérstakra erindreka með búsetu á Íslandi er tekin til starfa. Vonir standa til að þannig verði ýmis erindrekstur gagnvart öðrum ríkjum og stofnunum markvissari og álagi létt af sendiskrifstofum. Þá starfar nú deild sem fylgist með stjórnsýsluframkvæmd utanríkisþjónustunnar og nýtingu mannauðs og fjár. </span></p> <p><span style="font-size: 14pt;">Þótt mörg störf í utanríkisþjónustunni séu óhjákvæmilega unnin í trúnaði á gagnsæi samt að ríkja eins og kostur er. Því hefur upplýsinga- og greiningargeta ráðuneytisins verið efld og allt verklag endurskoðað. Jafnframt hefur verið leitað til innlendra og erlendra aðila um hvernig efla megi umræðu um utanríkismál.&nbsp; </span></p> <p><span style="font-size: 14pt;">Ég bind miklar vonir við að þessar umbætur verði ekki afmarkað verkefni heldur upphaf á stöðugu ferli. Stigvaxandi árangur af íslenskri hagsmunagæslu í síbreytilegum heimi verður ávallt okkar markmið.</span></p> <p><span style="font-size: 14pt;"><em>Greinin birtist í Morgunblaðinu 17. september 2018</em></span></p>
10. september 2018Blá ör til hægriStöndum vörð um mannréttindi<p><span>Það er af nógu að taka hjá Michelle Bachelet, sem í dag flytur mannréttindaráði Sameinuðu þjóðanna sína fyrstu yfirlitsskýrslu frá því að hún var skipuð mannréttindastjóri Sameinuðu þjóðanna í sumar. Í skýrslu sem nú liggur fyrir ráðinu um ofsóknir stjórnvalda í Mjanmar gegn Róhingjum eru þannig færð rök fyrir því að þar hafi þjóðarmorð og glæpir gegn mannkyni verið framin. Í annarri skýrslu er hernaður stríðandi fylkinga í Jemen talinn jaðra við stríðsglæpi. Einkum eru mannskæðar loftárásir hernaðarbandalags Sádi-Araba gagnrýndar en þær hafa bitnað sérstaklega hart á almennum borgurum.<br /> <br /> Fundarlotan sem hefst í mannréttindaráðinu í Genf í dag er sú fyrsta sem fulltrúar okkar sækja síðan Ísland var kjörið til setu í ráðinu í sumar. Við erum stolt af því trausti sem okkur er sýnt en gerum okkur grein fyrir því að nú hefst verkefnið fyrir alvöru. Það er krefjandi og við viljum leysa það vel af hendi. Því legg ég áherslu á samráð innan stjórnarráðsins, viðeigandi stofnana og við Alþingi. Þegar kemur að virðingu fyrir mannréttindum erum við öll í sama liði.<br /> <br /> Auk málefna Róhingja og Jemen má vænta þess að ástandið í Sýrlandi, Líbíu, Sómalíu og fleiri ríkjum beri hátt í þessari fundarlotu, sem stendur í þrjár vikur. Þá má gera ráð fyrir umræðu um réttindi frumbyggja sem og réttindi aldraðra, um þvinguð mannshvörf, mansal og réttinn til þróunar, svo fátt eitt sé nefnt.<br /> <br /> Ég hef gagnrýnt að í mannréttindaráðinu sitja ríki sem frekar ættu að vera umfjöllunarefni ráðsins en sitja í dómarasætinu. Sádi-Arabía, Venesúela og Filippseyjar hafa gerst sek um alvarleg mannréttindabrot – svo þrjú nærtæk dæmi séu nefnd. Við erum óhrædd við að gagnrýna þau og brýna. Um leið væntum við góðs af samstarfi við ríki í ráðinu sem deila með okkur grundvallarafstöðu til mannréttindamála.</span></p> <p><span>&nbsp;</span></p> <p><span><em>Greinin birtist fyrst í Fréttablaðinu 10. september 2018.</em></span></p>
11. júlí 2018Blá ör til hægriGrein ráðherra fyrir International Service for Human Rights: Human Rights Council membership - A responsibility we will not take lightly<span></span> <p style="box-sizing: border-box; margin: 0px 0px 1.25em; padding: 0px; direction: ltr; font-family: Lato, sans-serif, Arial; font-size: 14px; line-height: 1.6; text-rendering: optimizeLegibility; outline: none; color: #222222; background-color: #ffffff;">This year Iceland commemorates the centenary of becoming a free and sovereign nation. From the outset we have emphasised freedom and democracy and striven to honor the fundamental values of human rights. Through the progress we have made, we have seen how increased respect for the human rights of all, and more equal participation of each and every person in our society, has underpinned prosperity and well-being. I believe we can make a useful contribution by sharing our experience.</p> <p style="box-sizing: border-box; margin: 0px 0px 1.25em; padding: 0px; direction: ltr; font-family: Lato, sans-serif, Arial; font-size: 14px; line-height: 1.6; text-rendering: optimizeLegibility; outline: none; color: #222222; background-color: #ffffff;">That is why Iceland is ready to take on the responsibility of serving on the Human Rights Council, filling the Western European and Others Group (WEOG) seat that fell empty when the United States resigned from the Council last month. It goes without saying that we had not been planning to take a seat on the Council at this time. However, in these unique circumstances we believe it is right to declare our readiness. For us, this opportunity both represents a duty and a privilege, and we are determined to leave our mark.</p> <p style="box-sizing: border-box; margin: 0px 0px 1.25em; padding: 0px; direction: ltr; font-family: Lato, sans-serif, Arial; font-size: 14px; line-height: 1.6; text-rendering: optimizeLegibility; outline: none; color: #222222; background-color: #ffffff;">The Human Rights Council stands at a critical juncture. For over a decade, the Council has proven its crucial role as a standard bearer for human rights. It defends human rights standards, promotes the realisation of norms, identifies and addresses violations, and establishes valuable technical assistance and capacity building. But for many it is time to address its shortcomings. Its ever-increasing workload may have reduced its ability to tackle crises around the world. Perhaps more importantly, it is vital to overcome its perceived imbalance in its membership and focus, something that can only be addressed through reform.</p> <p style="box-sizing: border-box; margin: 0px 0px 1.25em; padding: 0px; direction: ltr; font-family: Lato, sans-serif, Arial; font-size: 14px; line-height: 1.6; text-rendering: optimizeLegibility; outline: none; color: #222222; background-color: #ffffff;">The Council certainly has its strengths and flaws. I, however, believe we need more engagement with the Council, not less. We need to work together to ensure that the Council truly delivers for those left voiceless and have their rights ignored or violated in all parts of the world. If it is broken we need to fix it.&nbsp;</p> <p style="box-sizing: border-box; margin: 0px 0px 1.25em; padding: 0px; direction: ltr; font-family: Lato, sans-serif, Arial; font-size: 14px; line-height: 1.6; text-rendering: optimizeLegibility; outline: none; color: #222222; background-color: #ffffff;">This would be the first time Iceland sits on the Council. As an observer, Iceland has been increasingly active in the Council, participating actively in the Universal Periodic Review&nbsp;and taking the lead on certain topics. For the past year, for instance, we have led a group of approximately forty states in encouraging the Philippines to improve its human rights situation. I have attended and addressed the Council twice, since taking office, and joining the Council will only add to the impetus we put in our efforts in the coming period.</p> <p style="box-sizing: border-box; margin: 0px 0px 1.25em; padding: 0px; direction: ltr; font-family: Lato, sans-serif, Arial; font-size: 14px; line-height: 1.6; text-rendering: optimizeLegibility; outline: none; color: #222222; background-color: #ffffff;">Our&nbsp;<a href="https://www.ishr.ch/sites/default/files/article/files/voluntary_pledges_edited.pdf" title="Voluntary Pledge" target="_blank" style="box-sizing: border-box; color: #d20137; text-decoration-line: none; line-height: inherit; outline: none;">Voluntary Pledge</a>&nbsp;outlines our priorities and contains no surprises. On the Council, Iceland will promote liberal values and principles and be an advocate for women's rights and gender equality, as we have been for many years in all fora. We will also put the human rights of LGBTI individuals in the foreground of our membership of the Council, a key issue for my Government. Simply put: We got it right decades ago in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights when we set out that all human beings are born free and equal in dignity and rights. This means everyone, irrespective of their gender, sexual orientation or gender identity.</p> <p style="box-sizing: border-box; margin: 0px 0px 1.25em; padding: 0px; direction: ltr; font-family: Lato, sans-serif, Arial; font-size: 14px; line-height: 1.6; text-rendering: optimizeLegibility; outline: none; color: #222222; background-color: #ffffff;">Iceland would be the smallest country to take seat on the Council. A key element of our voluntary pledge is therefore cooperation and dialogue. It is my opinion that the voices of smaller nations must be heard in the halls of the global institutions because they add something to the debate. However, it is also our belief that all members of the United Nations must hold true to the ideals of that great institution. We must all be willing to shoulder responsibility, when called upon. We believe more countries should be encouraged to serve on the Human Rights Council, of all sizes and strength, to expand its reach and impact. We advocate for the full participation of small states from all corners of the world and hope our candidacy can be an inspiration to them.&nbsp;&nbsp;</p> <p style="box-sizing: border-box; margin: 0px 0px 1.25em; padding: 0px; direction: ltr; font-family: Lato, sans-serif, Arial; font-size: 14px; line-height: 1.6; text-rendering: optimizeLegibility; outline: none; color: #222222; background-color: #ffffff;">However, it needs to be acknowledged that the workload of the Council is such that it is a challenge for any country or organisation, let alone a small one, to keep up. The Council needs to be accessible, to civil society, National Human Rights Institutions and States alike. The Council also needs to be a safe place, where no one will suffer reprisals for their contribution to its work.&nbsp;</p> <p style="box-sizing: border-box; margin: 0px 0px 1.25em; padding: 0px; direction: ltr; font-family: Lato, sans-serif, Arial; font-size: 14px; line-height: 1.6; text-rendering: optimizeLegibility; outline: none; color: #222222; background-color: #ffffff;">We therefore share the view that the Council could be more efficient and effective. It also needs to be accountable. In my address to the Council earlier this year I highlighted the need for members of the Council to lead by example. I firmly believe that states on the Council should expect their own human rights record to be subject to particular scrutiny during their time as members. If the Human Rights Council does not hold its own members to account to uphold the highest standards in the promotion and protection of human rights, who will?&nbsp;</p> <p style="box-sizing: border-box; margin: 0px 0px 1.25em; padding: 0px; direction: ltr; font-family: Lato, sans-serif, Arial; font-size: 14px; line-height: 1.6; text-rendering: optimizeLegibility; outline: none; color: #222222; background-color: #ffffff;">We should never lose sight of why the Human Rights Council was established in the first place. The mandate of the Council is to strengthen the promotion and protection of human rights around the globe and to address situations of human rights violations.</p> <p style="box-sizing: border-box; margin: 0px 0px 1.25em; padding: 0px; direction: ltr; font-family: Lato, sans-serif, Arial; font-size: 14px; line-height: 1.6; text-rendering: optimizeLegibility; outline: none; color: #222222; background-color: #ffffff;">But discussions on reform and working methods should not be lost in 'big ticket'&nbsp;issues. Small changes can sometimes be instrumental in building trust and allowing new actors access they didn’t have before.</p> <p style="box-sizing: border-box; margin: 0px 0px 1.25em; padding: 0px; direction: ltr; font-family: Lato, sans-serif, Arial; font-size: 14px; line-height: 1.6; text-rendering: optimizeLegibility; outline: none; color: #222222; background-color: #ffffff;">Such reform must also not diminish the capacity of the Council to tackle some of the more complex human rights situations around the world. The Council has a variety of tools at its disposal to effectively spur cooperation and address serious situations of human rights violations.&nbsp;</p> <p style="box-sizing: border-box; margin: 0px 0px 1.25em; padding: 0px; direction: ltr; font-family: Lato, sans-serif, Arial; font-size: 14px; line-height: 1.6; text-rendering: optimizeLegibility; outline: none; color: #222222; background-color: #ffffff;">Iceland brings to any such discussion on reform or working methods of the Council a small state perspective, but also experience in tackling reform and working methods in the field of human rights. We must all do our part to make the Council the best it can be.</p> <p style="box-sizing: border-box; margin: 0px 0px 1.25em; padding: 0px; direction: ltr; font-family: Lato, sans-serif, Arial; font-size: 14px; line-height: 1.6; text-rendering: optimizeLegibility; outline: none; color: #222222; background-color: #ffffff;">We are excited about this task in front of us. It feels special to be a candidate for a seat on the Council as we celebrate our centenary of joining the community of nations, and on the seventieth anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. It is also a responsibility;&nbsp;one that we do not take on lightly. However, we believe we have something to give, as well as to gain, from accepting this challenge.</p> <p style="box-sizing: border-box; margin: 0px 0px 1.25em; padding: 0px; direction: ltr; font-family: Lato, sans-serif, Arial; font-size: 14px; line-height: 1.6; text-rendering: optimizeLegibility; outline: none; color: #222222; background-color: #ffffff;"><em>The article was originally published on the <a href="https://www.ishr.ch/news/human-rights-council-membership-responsibility-we-will-not-take-lightly" target="_blank">ISHR website</a>.</em></p>
02. júlí 2018Blá ör til hægriÍsland axlar ábyrgð<p><span>Í síðustu viku náðist samstaða í ríkjahópi Vesturlanda hjá Sameinuðu þjóðunum um að Ísland gefi kost á sér til að taka það sæti sem losnaði í mannréttindaráði Sameinuðu þjóðanna við úrsögn Bandaríkjanna. Þetta þýðir að Ísland verður, ef að líkum lætur, eitt í kjöri í aukakosningum til ráðsins sem haldnar verða í allsherjarþinginu um miðjan mánuðinn.<br /> <br /> Ísland hefur ekki áður setið í mannréttindaráðinu en hefur aftur á móti látið að sér kveða í krafti áheyrnaraðildar. Sjálfur ávarpaði ég ráðið, fyrstur íslenskra utanríkisráðherra, í febrúar í fyrra og fyrr á þessu ári fór ég aftur til Genfar í sama tilgangi.<br /> <br /> Framganga Íslendinga í mannréttindamálum hefur vakið athygli. Við höfum reynst ötulir talsmenn kynjajafnréttis og réttinda hinsegin fólks. Auk þess höfum við verið í broddi fylkingar ríkja sem vekja athygli á slæmu ástandi mannréttindamála á Filippseyjum. Þau mál komu síðast til umfjöllunar fyrir tæpum tveimur vikum þegar fastafulltrúi Íslands talaði í nafni næstum fjörutíu aðildarríkja Sameinuðu þjóðanna. Slagkraftur slíkra skilaboða er auðvitað þeim mun meiri sem samstaðan um þau er víðtækari.<br /> <br /> Sjálfur vakti ég athygli á því í ávarpi mínu í lok febrúar að það skyti skökku við að Filippseyjar, Sádí-Arabía, Venesúela og Egyptaland ættu sæti í mannréttindaráðinu, ríki sem reglulega væru gagnrýnd fyrir mannréttindabrot. Brýnt er að gera umbætur á starfi ráðsins. Þótt ekki sé öruggt að árangur náist mun Ísland beita sér í þá veru og þannig stuðla að því að gera mannréttindum enn hærra undir höfði á vettvangi Sameinuðu þjóðanna.<br /> <br /> Ísland mun taka skýra afstöðu í mannréttindaráðinu en um leið miðla málum í þágu mannréttinda. Ég tel Ísland vel undir það búið að axla þá ábyrgð. Því ber að fagna að Íslandi gefist tækifæri til að láta gott af sér leiða með svo afgerandi hætti. Má rifja upp í þessu samhengi að sjötíu ár eru nú liðin frá samþykkt mannréttindayfirlýsingar Sameinuðu þjóðanna. Hún er auðvitað hornsteinninn sem byggt er á, tímamótaskjal sem vert er að halda í heiðri.</span></p> <p><span><em>Greinin birtist í Fréttablaðinu 2. júlí 2018.</em></span></p>
02. júlí 2018Blá ör til hægriHálfrar aldar bann við útbreiðslu kjarnavopna<p><span>Síðan kalda stríðið var í hámarki hefur kjarnavopnum í heiminum fækkað úr 70.000 í tæplega 15.000. Um langt árabil hefur útbreiðsla kjarnavopna verið nánast stöðvuð.&nbsp; Friðsamleg nýting kjarnorku hefur vaxið og nær nú til allra heimshluta.<br /> <br /> Í þessari þróun hefur samningurinn um bann við útbreiðslu kjarnavopna (NPT) gegnt lykilhlutverki. Í gær, þann 1. júlí, voru fimmtíu ár liðin frá því að samningurinn var undirritaður og gerði Ísland það einnig þann merka dag.&nbsp;<br /> <br /> Þessi samningur er sannkallað stórvirki en hann byggist á þremur megin markmiðum: fækkun kjarnavopna, stöðvun á útbreiðslu kjarnavopna og að tryggja rétt ríkja til friðsamlegrar nýtingar kjarnorku. Öll þessi markmið hafa verið uppfyllt að verulegu leyti. Í dag á 191 ríki aðild samningnum. Þó er sá meinbugur þar á að nokkur ríki sem eiga&nbsp; kjarnavopn standa utan hans: Indland, Pakistan, Ísrael og Norður-Kórea.&nbsp;<br /> <br /> Tímamótin minna einnig á að mikið verk er óunnið við að framkvæma samninginn um bann við útbreiðslu kjarnavopna, auk þess sem&nbsp; teikn eru á lofti um að það kerfi alþjóðlegra reglna sem samskipti ríkja byggjast á eigi undir högg að sækja. Gildir þetta bæði á sviði öryggismála og viðskipta. Því þarf að standa vörð um mikilvæga afvopnunarsamninga eins og NPT og samninginn um bann við efnavopnum. Í þessu samhengi má tilgreina þrjú aðkallandi úrlausnarefni, sem kunna að reyna á samninginn.<br /> <br /> Fyrst er að nefna kjarnavopn Norður-Kóreu. Þar birtist ógnin af beitingu kjarnavopna í sinni skýrustu mynd þar sem saman fara óábyrgt einræði og ógnarvopn.&nbsp; Niðurstaða&nbsp; leiðtogafundar Norður-Kóreu og Bandaríkjanna í nýliðnum mánuði vekur vonir en jafnframt er rétt að hafa hugfast að fyrirheitin sem gefin voru fyrri samningum ríkjanna um kjarnavopn hafa ekki ræst.<br /> <br /> Þá er það samkomulagið um kjarnorkuáætlun Írans frá 2015, sem miðar að því að koma í veg fyrir að Íran framleiði kjarnavopn. Þetta rammasamkomulag Írana við fastaríki öryggisráðs Sameinuðu þjóðanna, Þýskaland og Evrópusambandið hefur veikst mjög eftir brotthvarf Bandaríkjanna.<br /> <br /> Loks ríkir óvissa um framtíð tveggja afvopnunarsamninga Rússlands og Bandaríkjanna: samningsins um langdræg kjarnavopn (START) og&nbsp; samningsins um meðaldræg kjarnavopn (INF).&nbsp;&nbsp;<br /> <br /> Ísland mun áfram leggja sitt af mörkum til framgangs NPT-samningsins í samvinnu við Norðurlöndin og bandalagsríki í Atlantshafsbandalaginu, og í samræmi við þjóðaröryggisstefnu fyrir Ísland. Endurskoðunarráðstefna NPT sem haldin verður árið 2020 verður sérstaklega mikilvæg í að&nbsp; tryggja framtíð samningsins og áframhaldandi framfylgd hans. Þannig færumst við nær lokamarkmiði samningsins, kjarnavopnalausum heimi.</span></p> <p><span><em>Greinin birtist í Morgunblaðinu 2. júlí 2018.</em></span></p> <div>&nbsp;</div>
30. maí 2018Blá ör til hægriÁvarp ráðherra um norðurslóðamál hjá japönsku hafrannsóknarstofnuninni (OPRI)“Sustainable Business in the Arctic”<br /> Address by H.E. Guðlaugur Þór Þórðarson,<br /> Minister for Foreign Affairs of Iceland<br /> At the Ocean Policy Research Institute<br /> Tokyo, 30 May 2018<br /> <br /> Distinguished guests, ladies and gentlemen,<br /> <br /> I would like to thank the SASAKAWA Peace Foundation and the Ocean Policy Research Institute for organising this event today. I have been informed about the warm welcome that former President Ólafur Ragnar Grímsson received here in February at the Arctic Governance Workshop and we appreciate Japan´s active participation in the yearly Arctic Circle Assembly – the largest gathering in the world on Arctic affairs. <br /> <br /> Japan is the first country in Asia that I have visited during my time as Foreign Minister. Japan and Iceland enjoy a strong relationship and I can see further opportunities for co-operation between our nations, not least in the Arctic. Today’s topic “Sustainable Business in the Arctic” is therefore well founded. <br /> <br /> For Iceland, sustainable development in the Arctic is key and will be our guiding principle as we prepare for our chairmanship in the Arctic Council next year. This applies to economic, environmental and societal aspects alike. On a global scale we also emphasize the importance of joint international efforts in implementing the Paris Agreement, as well as Agenda 2030 and the Sustainable Development Goals.<br /> <br /> So why is the concept of sustainability important in the context of the Arctic? We all know that the icecap receding because of climate change and the Arctic is opening up. These developments bring about both new opportunities as well as challenges in various fields such as trade, transport, investment, research, services and social development of the region.<br /> <br /> Iceland depends on sustainable use of natural resources. This we have learned in the past and this is what we will focus on in the future. I could go even further and say that our very existence in the long term depends on sustainable use of natural resources. <br /> <br /> Globally we have joint responsibilities, as our economies are interconnected and will be negatively affected by climate change if nothing is done. No country by itself can tackle these global challenges.<br /> <br /> The Arctic is rich in natural resources. This includes oil and gas, as well as valuable minerals. The region is also endowed with fish and numerous other types of resources that can be harnessed in a sustainable way. In my address here today, I would like to bring forward three examples from an Icelandic perspective on the Arctic that highlight the importance of utilising our resources in a sustainable way. <br /> <br /> Firstly, renewable energy, secondly, fisheries and the ocean and, thirdly, transportation infrastructure. Finally, I will touch on the current landscape of Arctic co-operation and offer some views on the way forward. But before that I would like to offer a few general remarks on Arctic cooperation and Iceland’s policy.<br /> <br /> Ladies and gentlemen,<br /> <br /> When it comes to Arctic cooperation, Icelandic politics are in full agreement, which is not always the case. Across the political spectrum in Iceland there is consensus on our role as a committed and responsible Arctic state in a region where co-operation and sustainable development is the guiding light.<br /> <br /> We all agree on the importance of the Arctic Council, which Iceland will chair next year when we take over from our Finnish friends. The Council plays a key role in promoting sustainable development in the Arctic. Protection of the environment is crucial for the future of the region, but it needs to go hand-in-hand with responsible economic development. The interests of the inhabitants of the Arctic need to be respected, with a special focus on the indigenous peoples. It is our responsibility to allow the people of the region to enjoy security and prosperity in different forms. That includes access to local health care, education, employment and communications. <br /> <br /> Over the last decade, the Arctic region has caught the attention of the outside world. We have seen an increased number of states and organisations developing and adopting policies on the Arctic from their own points of interest. This includes most of our larger neighbours in Europe and the European Union, but also Russia and China. The increased attention can also be seen by a growing number of observers to the Arctic Council, including Japan.<br /> <br /> Back home in Iceland we see an increase every year in the participation in the Arctic Circle Assembly in Reykjavík, which has sometimes been called the Davos of the Arctic and attracts more than 2.000 participants every year from all over the world.<br /> Indeed, the spotlight of the outside world is shining on the Arctic. As the icecap in the Arctic continues to melt, we need to use that spotlight in a constructive way. <br /> <br /> Climate change is the evident and main driver of that development. It is hard to grasp, but the icecap is now only half the size it was 50 years ago. All around the world we witness the consequences of climate change, but its impact is particularly revealing in the Arctic.<br /> <br /> Ladies and gentlemen – and turning to my first example.<br /> <br /> Iceland has utilised its renewable energy sources for decades. In recent years the world has been gaining ever more understanding of the importance of securing renewable energy development. It has been a long-standing policy in Iceland to support initiatives worldwide that aim to increase the utilization of geothermal energy. In Iceland we have a good track record of direct use of geothermal energy in heating of buildings, and a power source for the industry, agriculture and fishery sectors. The potential is enormous. <br /> <br /> Reliance on fossil fuel is still a big challenge for many of the Arctic’s remote communities. As the Arctic is one of the most vulnerable regions to pollution, reliance on fossil fuel for energy is a risk that needs to be reduced. <br /> <br /> It is well known that many of these communities will not be connected to a national energy grid anytime in the near future. Therefore, they will need to develop their own local energy systems. Those systems will most likely be different sorts of hybrid renewable solutions for using wind, solar, tidal, hydro and geothermal. For this to become more readily available, efforts need to be put into investment and research in different energy technologies.<br /> <br /> It is also worth noting that we are witnessing positive developments in other regions that can have positive effects in the Arctic. For example, big investments are taking place in China to build cities with district heating from geothermal energy. This transformation in China has been done with Icelandic participation. The example from China shows what large-scale investments in infrastructure can do for air quality and improve quality of life – An impact that is both local and global in terms of climate change. <br /> <br /> On a side note, I would also like to use this opportunity to mention that geothermal energy has for decades been one of the key focus areas of Iceland’s international development cooperation. We are proud to be able to share our experience with other countries, which hold potential in geothermal utilization, either for electricity or direct use. We run the United Nations Geothermal Training Programme, which is the flagship of Iceland’s support to geothermal development. The programme has graduated almost 700 fellows from 60 countries and welcomed around 2.000 experts for short courses worldwide. <br /> <br /> By utilising geothermal resources, in countries with the potential, we can create foundations for an environmentally friendly production of electricity - plus all other direct use possibilities. That contributes to both economic and social development, but also plays a role in mitigating climate change. <br /> <br /> Awareness of the need for sustainable energy solutions has increased in recent years. However, increased awareness is not enough on its own. In order to transit successfully to sustainable energy, we need to stimulate co-operation and joint efforts between countries and regions of the world. Otherwise this will not happen.<br /> <br /> Distinguished guest - this brings me to my second example. <br /> Iceland's economic progress and prosperity has for centuries been shaped by the rich natural resources and the climatic conditions of the north. <br /> <br /> We have broad experience in the potential of our ocean. For centuries people believed that fish stocks were inexhaustible, but experience taught us otherwise. Our approach today is to balance the sustainable use and the conservation of the oceans and their resources.<br /> <br /> Iceland is a firm believer in responsible resource management on a local level, combined with regional and global solutions where appropriate. We have come a long way in our understanding of the challenges related to sustainable conservation and management of the oceans.<br /> <br /> Just recently, the landmark negotiations on potential future of the Central Arctic Fisheries were concluded where Iceland and Japan were amongst participants. History has proven that regional cooperation built on scientific evidence and international law is exactly what we need. <br /> <br /> To understand today’s situation, it is important to reflect on history. For about 500 years Iceland remained a part of the Kingdom of Denmark. During that time the most sought-after resource of Iceland was fish, which was harvested at different times by foreign powers such as England and France. <br /> <br /> In recent times, Iceland has implemented a responsible system that is science-based and focuses on long-term sustainable utilisation of this important natural resource. Our fisheries management system has overcome the inefficiencies of the past and the industry generates substantial economic profit, which is subject to taxation. There are no subsidies in the Icelandic fish industry.<br /> <br /> Fisheries will remain one of the main pillars of the Icelandic economy and a quality export commodity that we are proud of – and I am pleased that Japan continues to be an important market for our sea-food. The industry has also developed and today the fish is fully utilised, including its skin for medical purposes, fashion and design – a truly remarkable development.<br /> <br /> For a nation of seafarers and fishermen we are also obliged to address some obstacles while utilising the resources in the sea. Pollution in our waters should not be tolerated. One of the important tasks we have for the future is to tackle marine litter, notably plastic, in the ocean. In this context, Iceland has made voluntary commitments to reduce marine litter in its waters. <br /> <br /> Through our fisheries industry we have also learned, often from bitter experience, the importance of maritime safety infrastructure in our waters. We need to stay alert and continue to enhance the co-operation between the Arctic states, including on search and rescue. This is of key interest to all Arctic States and, here, the important work of the Arctic Council has benefitted all of us.<br /> Ladies and gentlemen,<br /> <br /> My third and last example relates to development of transportation infrastructure, which are topics that also needs to be approached in a sustainable way.<br /> <br /> With more interest in the Arctic as a tourist destination we are seeing visitors from all corners of the world enjoying the beautiful landscape and natural wonders such as the Northern lights. Inbound tourism to Iceland has constantly been increasing in the last decade and last year some 2.3 million tourists visited Iceland – and bear in mind that we are a population on 350.000 people. Iceland has become a flight-hub in the Arctic connecting tourists from all over the world. We have also seen positive development as regards services related to shipping routes and related fields. <br /> <br /> Solid infrastructure, including roads, ports and airports are instrumental in this respect. Better connections in the region will increase the service level for both businesses and the people of the Arctic. In many respects, Iceland is centrally located in the Arctic and can serve as an important hub and venue for Arctic-related activities. Good access to new markets through alternative Arctic transportation routes can help stimulate economic growth in the region. <br /> <br /> We already see this happening and, although conditions in the Arctic will continue to be harsh, the number of vessels and volume of cargo are likely to increase. You only have to look at the map to understand why. The transport time between Asia and Europe is substantially cut, which saves time and money – and benefits the environment. New connections through Arctic rail links are also under consideration and, needless to say, any future developments of transport links need to take place in close co-operation with national, regional and local authorities and enterprises – and need to be sustainable. <br /> <br /> All these new transport routes need to focus on increasing energy efficiency or utilising sustainable energy resources where possible and, when focusing on infrastructure, telecommunications and connecting remote areas should also be a priority. Improved connectivity supports better access to education, healthcare, commerce and business development, and improves quality of life.<br /> <br /> Ladies and gentlemen,<br /> <br /> Looking towards the future, I believe it is important for businesses to take a joint responsibility with their respective governments in transforming the way the world’s economies are run.<br /> <br /> Some of you here might be familiar with the Arctic Economic Council that was established under the Canadian Chairmanship of the Arctic Council back in 2014. <br /> The Arctic Economic Council is an independent organisation that focuses on facilitating business connections and activities in the region. The Council puts a focus on responsible economic development through the sharing of best practices, technological solutions, standards, and other information. <br /> <br /> The Arctic Economic Council represents different industries, ranging from mining and shipping companies, tourism and transport to reindeer herding and indigenous economic development corporations. It is important for different types of businesses to have a voice in the development of the region and take an active part in seeking solutions.<br /> <br /> I believe it is vital to have a strong connection between the public and private sector. Iceland therefore is very keen on working closely with the Arctic Economic Council in the coming years. <br /> <br /> Ladies and gentlemen,<br /> <br /> Increased cooperation between the eight Arctic states is gradually leading to new business opportunities and economic activities. Fortunately, this co-operation is also stimulating research and development in various fields, which helps us to utilise the resources of the Arctic in a sustainable manner.<br /> <br /> We need improved infrastructure that fosters sustainable growth into the future. This needs to be done in co-operation with responsible non-Arctic states and with the involvement of the private sector. The Asian powerhouses have all revealed their interested in the Arctic and Japan, South Korea, Singapore, India and China have all obtained observership in the Arctic Council. There is growing global awareness of the economic potential of the region and it is reassuring to witness expanding political contacts and practical cooperation in both bilateral and multilateral fora.<br /> <br /> I have said this before, and I say it again. A global focus on the Arctic is long overdue. I sometimes like to point out that the geographic size of the Arctic region is equal to the whole of Africa. The region includes the largest pristine wilderness in the world and, at the same time, vast opportunities for the 4 million people who live there. <br /> <br /> The effects of climate change are occurring at a fast pace in the Arctic and we need to support environmental protection while working on enhancing economic development. It is a balancing act.<br /> <br /> The region offers significant opportunities for economic growth, science, and innovation. These opportunities need to be accessed in a sustainable way. The potentials are great, but so are the challenges. The Arctic is warming up for business, but we still need to keep our heads cool. <br /> <br /> Thank you for your attention and I look forward to our discussion.<br />
29. maí 2018Blá ör til hægriÁvarp ráðherra á fundi Japan National Press ClubAddress by H.E. Guðlaugur Þór Þórðarson, <br /> Minister for Foreign Affairs of Iceland<br /> At the Japan National Press Club<br /> Tokyo, 29 May 2018<br /> <br /> Dear friends,<br /> <br /> Let me start by thanking the Japan National Press Club for having me here today. It is an honour for me. Japan is the first country I visit in Asia during my time as Minister for Foreign Affairs. Japan is a true inspiration to the rest of the world and, during my short time here in Tokyo, I have become fascinated by your country.<br /> <br /> Iceland and Japan are likeminded nations and we share common values and principles. Our countries established diplomatic relations 62 years ago and have ever since worked closely together in various fields. Iceland regards Japan as a close partner in the global arena. <br /> <br /> There are several things that connect our two islands together. Just two weeks ago one could walk through the park at Lake Tjörnin in downtown Reykjavík and admire the 50 Japanese cherry trees in blossom. <br /> <br /> The trees were planted there 7 years ago by friendship societies in our countries and are a symbol of peace and friendship between Japan and Iceland. The yearly HANAMI in Reykjavík is becoming a strong tradition, even in the Arctic climate of Iceland, although we normally have to suffer rain or strong winds while enjoying the short period of cherry blossom in Reykjavík.<br /> <br /> Our cherry trees are somewhat a symbol of the strong bilateral relations between Iceland and Japan. They have always been excellent and are growing stronger with increased international co-operation, growing tourism, student exchanges and business ties in various fields.<br /> <br /> My address here today will focus on three aspects that are key factors in Iceland’s foreign policy and at the same time crucial factors in the global arena. Number 1, global free trade. Number 2, arctic cooperation. And number 3, defence and security.<br /> <br /> Ladies and gentlemen, <br /> <br /> I am a firm believer in free trade. Iceland is an export driven economy and we owe our prosperity largely to a well-functioning global free trade environment. Therefore, it is of high importance to us to avoid all forms of protectionism. <br /> Iceland is a member of the European Free Trade Association where we join Liechtenstein, Norway and Switzerland in promoting free trade. We are also a part of the Agreement on the European Economic Area, or the EEA, which makes us a part of the internal market of the European Union. Through these agreements we expand our market from 330 thousand people up to over 500 million people all over Europe. This market access and free trade mindset has provided us with enormous opportunities.<br /> <br /> I know that Japan is closely monitoring developments in Europe. Brexit is, of course, an important part of current developments, and I would like to highlight that negotiating a future arrangement with the United Kingdom is an absolute priority issue for Iceland. <br /> <br /> Globally, the UK is our second most important trade partner, covering various products and services such as fish, aviation, tourism and different forms of investments – areas that today fall under the EEA Agreement. Therefore, we welcome the concrete steps taken in talks between the EU and UK and continue to encourage swift progress in the negotiations. <br /> <br /> I have urged all parties in the ongoing negotiations to approach this important task with an open mind. Brexit is happening, and the negotiators have a responsibility to come to a workable solution that avoids negative effects on our economies. I have said it before and say it again: erecting unnecessary barriers is in no one’s interest, it is bad for our citizens and it is bad for our businesses. <br /> During the negotiations Iceland´s short-term goal is to guarantee continuity for our businesses and citizens. We are now in dialogue with both the UK and the EU to guarantee a smooth transition. In the long run, our goal is to maintain a strong relationship with the UK following its departure from the EU. The objective is to ensure at least the same level of trade relations with the UK as we enjoy today – hopefully even better. <br /> <br /> In our view it is also important, given the global challenges we face, that like-minded nations within the WTO join hands to safeguard the multilateral trading system. A rules-based, open and transparent system is of particular importance for smaller countries and provides for a more level playing field in international trade. Open and free trade creates peace, stability and improves living conditions.<br /> <br /> Ladies and gentlemen,<br /> <br /> Asia continues to grow and prosper and countries of the world, including Iceland, increasingly look towards this part of the world. Iceland and Japan have a strong and long-standing history of trade. We are confident that our good relations will continue. Japanese cars are popular in Iceland and Icelandic power companies import Japanese turbines, used to produce electricity. On the other hand, our most important export to Japan is seafood of various sorts. Eider-down and lamb meat are also important export products. <br /> <br /> It is, however, not only in physical products that we have good connections. Mutual tourism has increased. Last year around 30.000 Japanese tourists visited Iceland, compared to only 1.500 in the year 2001, and around 2.000 Icelandic tourists visited Japan. <br /> <br /> The signing of a double taxation agreement last January is a further proof of the will of both countries to further strengthen our relations. The agreement will contribute to promoting mutual investment and economic exchanges.<br /> Japan has a very ambitious trade agenda, as witnessed by the recently finalized negotiations with the EU on an Economic Partnership Agreement. I hope that Iceland and Japan can continue a dialogue in a similar direction.<br /> <br /> Our two countries share a vision for an open and rules-based global economy built to the highest standards. A priority for Iceland is to increase trade between our countries. A future trade agreement, which would include the elimination of technical barriers and tariffs, would, no doubt, boost our trade and deepen our cooperation in other fields. <br /> <br /> In light of growing tourism, Iceland is also interested in finding ways to connect our two countries together in an even stronger way. I look to our Nordic friends in both Finland and Denmark who have a long history of connecting their countries with Japan with direct flights. <br /> <br /> I hope that one day Iceland and Japan will become like these Nordic neighbours, offering direct flight connections to Tokyo. Icelandic airlines have shown interest in direct flights between Iceland and Japan and this could further strengthen our bilateral relationship through trade, people-to-people contacts and more tourism.<br /> <br /> Ladies and gentlemen,<br /> <br /> This brings me to another area of common interest – the Arctic: a key foreign policy priority for Iceland. There is broad political consensus on Arctic issues in Iceland and a goodwill in the political environment towards the Arctic Council and the upcoming Chairmanship of Iceland from 2019 to 2021. This is extremely important for our work.<br /> <br /> Iceland welcomed Japan's observer status in the Arctic Council in 2013 and we look forward to working within Japan in the Arctic during the Icelandic chairmanship. We also welcome the fact that Japan, South Korea, Singapore, India and China have all obtained observer status in the Arctic Council and in the run-up and during our chairmanship, Iceland will be inclusive and transparent in our approach towards observers. We look forward to our co-operation.<br /> <br /> The Arctic, however, is not only about our important work within the Arctic Council. Landmark negotiations on potential future of Central Arctic Fisheries, with active participation from Iceland and Japan alike, were recently concluded with sustainability, international law and scientific evidence as our guiding light. This agreement is a perfect example of how we want our co-operation to develop in the Arctic.<br /> <br /> For Iceland, sustainable development in the Arctic is key and will be our guiding principle as we prepare for our chairmanship in the Arctic Council. This applies to economic, environmental and societal aspects alike.<br /> <br /> Sustainability is, however, not only important in the Arctic, but also globally through the Paris agreement and the Sustainable Development Goals. These are all inter-connected. We all know the phrase “What happens in the Arctic, does not stay in the Arctic”, which is very much true. On the challenging side, higher temperatures in the North can result in higher sea-levels in the South. On the opportunity side, alternative sailing routes in the Arctic cut distances and open up various avenues for further co-operation.<br /> <br /> This should not be seen as a future scenario for future generations to address. Intercontinental cargo shipping between the Pacific and the North Atlantic, through the Arctic, is already taking place and increasing year by year. This provides for opportunities for the vibrant and growing economies in East- and Southeast-Asia, which can draw strength from their trade and commercial networks, but also for Western-Europe and the East Coast of America to link up with the Asian powerhouses. <br /> <br /> The Arctic is a vast area where emission of greenhouse-gasses is minimal, but the consequences of climate change are faster and more visible there than any other place on Earth. Changes in the Arctic do not only pose opportunities, but also challenges at the same time.<br /> <br /> One of the key challenges we are facing in the Arctic is maintaining the balance between economic development and environmental protection. Sustainable development, for the good of all Arctic inhabitants, is of course what we are striving for.<br /> <br /> The effects of climate change on the delicate ecosystems of the Arctic are worrying. It is important that the member states of the Arctic Council take the lead in drawing attention to this globally - in co-operation with the Council’s observers. Here, we are pleased to continue working with Japanese scientists who are conducting important research in the region.<br /> <br /> It is also vital that the Arctic continues to be a region of peace and stability despite the Arctic Council Members’ tensions elsewhere in the world. The Arctic offers a unique opportunity for the states concerned to demonstrate that they are able and willing to cooperate actively in a constructive manner. Or as we sometimes put it: “High North – Low Tension”.<br /> <br /> Ladies and gentlemen,<br /> <br /> This brings me to my third point – security and defence. <br /> <br /> Iceland is located centrally in the North-Atlantic with Greenland to the West and the Faroe Islands, the United Kingdom and Norway to the East. The Arctic Circle touches Iceland´s northern tip and straight lines can be drawn through the Atlantic respectively to the North and South Poles.<br /> <br /> Since settlement in the 9th century, Iceland has always been a country without armed forces of its own and there is consensus, most recently expressed in our 2016 National Security Policy, that Iceland remains a country without a military.<br /> The development of technology, particularly submarines, and later aviation, including long-range aircraft, changed our situation dramatically and Iceland suddenly became a strategic hub. First indications of these developments appeared during the First World War and they were firmly in place when the Second World <br /> War broke out. <br /> <br /> On the eve of the Second World war, Iceland’s neutrality was interrupted by the United Kingdom, which occupied Iceland in May 1940 to prevent Nazi-Germany occupation and, thereby, secure the North-Atlantic sea lines. Later, the United States military forces replaced the British force in Iceland and remained in Iceland until 2006 when the US naval air base in Keflavík was closed down. <br /> Iceland became a founding Member of NATO in 1949 which, along with the bilateral defence agreement with the United States from 1951, still forms the most important pillars of Iceland´s defences. Later, in 2007-2008, Iceland negotiated bilateral security cooperation agreements with its closest neighbours: Norway, Denmark, Canada and the United Kingdom. <br /> <br /> The Cold War hammered in stone the strategic importance of Iceland for transatlantic security and represented the birth of the trans-Atlantic link. The optimism realised by the end of the Cold War has in recent years dramatically receded and Iceland´s strategic importance re-emerged.<br /> <br /> Russia’s willingness to use its modernized armed forces unilaterally abroad have given every reason to worry. The annexation of Crimea and Russia’s direct support for separatists in the Eastern-Ukraine were game changers, both when it comes to respect for international laws but also for post-Cold War European stability and security architecture. Furthermore,&nbsp; the recent Salisbury chemical attack and Russia‘s intervention in Syria, including their defence of the Assad regime, even in the face of repeated use of chemical weapons, has also contributed to the current climate of distrust.<br /> <br /> In the North Atlantic, we experienced a Russian military come-back already 11-12 years ago. Paradoxically, when the last US forces permanently based in Iceland had been withdrawn in 2006, Russia on virtually the same day chose to resume its strategic bomber flights. In recent years we have seen an increase in Russian submarine activities in the North Atlantic.<br /> <br /> As a result, the US and Allied forces have been increasing their military presence in Iceland on rotational basis – both through air-policing and submarine surveillance. And at the same time, NATO has been turning more attention to the North Atlantic – through assessments and its command structure. Our co-operation has also evolved and now covers alternative threats and challenges like cyber and hybrid threats and the fight against terrorism. <br /> <br /> Iceland takes its NATO commitments seriously and is a reliable and trustworthy Ally, which contributes to its own and Alliance common security. This is reflected in our National Security Policy, which enjoys cross-party support and sets the framework for the security and defence policy of our broadly-based coalition Government. <br /> <br /> Ladies and gentlemen,<br /> <br /> Before I end my remarks to take a few questions, I would like to highlight the importance of people-to-people exchanges to stimulate better understanding between countries.<br /> <br /> Walking around the streets of Reykjavík one cannot only see Japanese cherry trees, but also hear many of the world’s languages being spoken, including Japanese. Iceland has become a popular destination for tourists who are interested our part of the world – the Arctic nature and the Northern lights, but also our culture and entertainment possibilities.<br /> <br /> Every year we also see more foreign students attending schools and universities in Iceland. We have enjoyed close relations with Japan in the fields of education and student exchanges. This might be difficult for you to believe, but Japanese is now the second most popular foreign language taught at the University of Iceland - after English.<br /> <br /> There is also great interest in co-operation between the people of our two countries in the field of art and culture, especially design and music. In November this year the Iceland Symphony Orchestra will visit Japan under the artistic direction of Ashkenazy and play several concerts, along with Japanese pianist Nobu, throughout the country.<br /> <br /> Japan is known for your culture and cuisine world-wide and we see an opportunity in learning from you on how to export culture. But we have also been able to transfer some of our skills to Japan, notably in the field of sports where we try to punch above our weight. <br /> <br /> The Icelandic handball trainer, Dagur Sigurdsson, is currently coaching your national handball team and I would be remiss if I did not mention football where our two nations will travel to Russia in two weeks-time for the World Cup – An achievement that we are very proud of and, who knows, maybe our teams will qualify from our respective groups and face each other on the pitch. That would be remarkable and yet another excuse for me to have some sushi and sake. <br /> <br /> Thank you for inviting me and I look forward to your questions.
28. maí 2018Blá ör til hægriRæða ráðherra á viðskiptaþingi JETRO og Íslandsstofu í Tókýó<p>Keynote Address by H.E. Guðlaugur Þór Þórðarsson,<br /> Minister for Foreign Affairs<br /> at the Iceland Business Seminar<br /> Tokyo, 28 May 2018</p> <p>Mr IRINO, Executive Vice President of Jetro, Distinguished Guests,&nbsp;</p> <p>It gives me pleasure to be with you today and to open this important business seminar on my first visit to Tokyo. It is business that brings us to Tokyo today and a wish to combine our strengths in order to make something new.</p> <p>Coming from a country that fought its way from poverty to become, in a relatively short period of time, a well-functioning modern economy with living standards that are among the highest in the world, I have long been an admirer of Japan, a country that has achieved an exemplary balance between its timeless culture and technological modernity. </p> <p>I am a big advocate of free trade and as such it is a priority for me and my government to assist Icelandic companies in seeking new opportunities in Asia. The three strongest assets of the Icelandic economy, fish and meat products, sustainable energy and the Icelandic nature, visited by a rapidly increasing number of tourist, all offer opportunities for cooperation and trade. <br /> Our trade with Japan in marine products is substantial but there is potential for growth. The same goes for meat products which have entered the Japanese market in the past couple of years. Japan is known as the most demanding market in the world when it comes to quality of food. This fits very well with our strengths as Iceland likes to compete on quality rather than simply price. We receive a fast-growing number of Japanese tourists, and hope to see many more visitors in the future. The Japanese are great travelers, but in Iceland we can promise you an adventure like you have never experienced before. </p> <p>We import many technological products from Japan. Apart from the more usual appliances, we import technology for the energy sector, not the least for harnessing geothermal energy. This might in fact be an area for further collaboration. Increasing use of sustainable energy is of course one of the most crucial challenges facing mankind. In geothermal energy Japanese companies are world leaders. Iceland, on the other hand has harnessed this type of energy more extensively than other country in the world and our scientists have decades of experience which we have been happy to share with many other countries. Only a fraction of the potential for this source of energy has been realized in the world In Japan this is perhaps still an underutilized resource. Our experience, combined with Japanese technology, could contribute to energy solutions in many different parts of the world. </p> <p>Japan is indeed one of our largest business partners outside of Europe. However, given the size of the Japanese economy, I am confident there is scope for increased trade. From our side we can sense much interest in Japan among different industries and businesses and here today we have companies representing the strongest sectors of the Icelandic economy. <br /> Japan and Iceland are at the very opposite ends of the great Eurasian landmass and may seem far apart from one another. A closer look, however, reveals a number of similarities as well as increasingly important common concerns. We are both island nations living in proximity to unpredictable and sometimes difficult nature. In addition, climate change, particularly affecting the Artic region, is creating problems that can only be addressed through international cooperation. At the same time, there are plenty of opportunities that can only be realized through joint efforts. </p> <p>The two countries are also in many ways like-minded; We share common values and principles and we are devoted to an open and rules-based global economy in accordance with highest standards. We also have a strong commitment to sustainable development, sustainable management of natural resources and the Paris climate agreement.<br /> Iceland regards Japan as a partner on the global stage. The political ties have never been as strong, which is reflected in frequent bilateral ministerial visits and cooperation across various fields. A joint statement on strengthening of relations between Iceland and Japan was signed in Tokyo in 2014 during the official visit of the Foreign Minister of Iceland to Japan. </p> <p>Another proof of this is the establishment of bilateral Chambers of Commerce in both countries, with over 50 companies from various industries as members. The two Chambers set a good example by working closely together. I am confident this will further strengthen opportunities for growth of business cooperation between our countries.</p> <p>Lastly, I would like to highlight that last January I signed a convention on elimination of double taxation with Japan’s Ambassador in Iceland, Mr. Kitagawa. This is an important step in improving business ties between our countries. The agreement will come into force in the beginning of next year and is expected to contribute to further promising trade and investment. During my visit we will finalize an agreement on working permits for young citizens of both countries. We also hope that Japan will open up to Iceland in other areas. We have discussed a bilateral trade agreement and air services agreement which would put our trade relations on a new level, and further open up for much more possibilities of doing business. For both of our countries, free and rule-based global trade is essential, and we look forward to further strengthening our bilateral ties.</p> <p>One of the aims of the government of Iceland is to work with companies in seeking good business partners in the fast-rising markets of Asia. Japan is not only our largest market in Asia, but we also see Japan as a gateway to other parts of the continent. </p> <p>I would like to thank JETRO and Promote Iceland for organising this event today and wish you a productive business seminar. After we are done I hope you will have time to join me, and the business delegation from Iceland, at the reception taking place afterwards.</p> <p>Thank you. </p> <br />
16. maí 2018Blá ör til hægriRæða ráðherra hjá hugveitunni CSIS í Washington DC<p><span>CENTER FOR STRATEGIC &amp; INTERNATIONAL STUDIES<br /> BACK TO THE FUTURE: THE GEOPOLITICAL CENTRALITY&nbsp; OF THE NORTH ATLANTIC AND THE ARCTIC<br /> ÁVARP UTANRÍKISRÁÐHERRA<br /> CSIS, WASHINGTON D.C. 16. MAÍ 2018<br /> <br /> Ladies and gentlemen,<br /> Let me begin by thanking CSIS for organizing this meeting. It is an honour for me to address you and a valuable opportunity to reflect on some of the issues Iceland considers important during times of global uncertainty.<br /> <br /> Today, I want to talk to you about three things:<br /> <br /> 1) Iceland as a strategic partner to the US, <br /> 2) how and why we should broaden and strengthen our relationship and <br /> 3) the importance of American leadership in the world <br /> <br /> Let me begin with the strategic partnership. <br /> They say geography is destiny. How true in the case of Iceland – an island in the middle of North Atlantic Sea where America and Europe meet, literally, in geographical terms, the two continental shelfs of America and Europe.<br /> <br /> For centuries our geography was both a curse and a blessing. In addition to an unforgiving climate and destructive volcanoes, a small population lived in relative isolation and relied on imported basic necessities for survival. <br /> At the same time, these conditions meant that Iceland was more or less sheltered from continuous great power conflicts on the Continent, and for about 500 years Iceland remained a part of the Kingdom of Denmark.<br /> <br /> The most sought-after resource of Iceland was fish, which was harvested at different times by foreign powers such as England and France. <br /> <br /> But none of them left a significant footprint in the country and the last foreign fishing vessels were pushed out of Icelandic waters following the Cod Wars in the 1970´s. <br /> <br /> The development of naval technology, particularly submarines, and later aviation, including long-range aircraft, changed our situation dramatically. Iceland suddenly became a strategic hub. The first indications of changing circumstances appeared during the First World War and they were firmly in place when the Second World War broke out.<br /> <br /> While our geography, our remoteness, had in previous times ensured foreign nations did not seek to gain a foothold in Iceland permanently, technological progress and a changing strategic landscape meant that by 1940 our geography necessitated an intervention by the Western allies. Our geography had not changed – but other conditions had. <br /> <br /> When Norway and Denmark were occupied by the Nazis in 1940, the British had no choice other than to send military forces to Iceland for the defence of their North-Atlantic sea routes. Similarly, in pre-Pearl Harbour 1941, the United States realized that a forward presence in Iceland was essential to sustaining Britain and to the defence of the Eastern US-seaboard. That year, US troops replaced the British force in Iceland.<br /> <br /> To be able to take on this role, however, the US Government had to define Iceland as part of its hemisphere, under its sphere of interest, in line with the Monroe Doctrine, which had been the prevailing foreign policy in the US and would remain so until Pearl Harbour was attacked and the US entered the war.<br /> <br /> This development indicated a shift in the strategic importance of Iceland and represented the birth of the trans-Atlantic link. During the Cold War, secure communications between North-America and Europe became fundamental to the credibility and viability of NATO and a forward position in the North-Atlantic remained crucial to the defence of the North-American mainland. <br /> <br /> In fact, in the 1970´s and 1980´s, experts frequently referred to Keflavík as the „anti-submarine warfare capital of the world” and flights by Soviet long-range bombers into the Icelandic military-identification zone were common. Fortunately, the Soviet Union collapsed, and the Cold War ended without a major conflict.<br /> <br /> There was no return to geographic remoteness for Iceland, however. <br /> Other factors, including changes taking place in the Arctic, meant it would remain strategically located. And with aviation and tourism experiencing a boom, Iceland has also become a different kind of hub between Europe and North America – linking the two continents together, as well as the people seeking to make use of more frequent flights.<br /> <br /> You may not be aware of this, but Iceland has been seeing extraordinary changes in its relationship with US citizens because of the current aviation and tourist boom. In 2017, we saw an increase in visitors from North America of 181 thousand people, which is a 36,3% increase from 2016, bringing the overall number up to 680 thousand people.<br /> <br /> As a matter of fact, there are more direct flights every single day from Iceland to the US than there are from all the other Nordic countries in a week.<br /> <br /> So while US troops may have left Iceland in 2006, when the Keflavík base was closed, you Americans have recently been coming to visit us in ever bigger numbers – which we welcome.<br /> <br /> Ladies and Gentlemen,<br /> Turning back to the issue of security, and more specifically Russia, the optimism released by the end of the Cold War has in recent months and years dramatically receded. Indeed, we have lately been confronted with the question whether we are witnessing the beginning of a new Cold War.<br /> <br /> I would not go this far in comparison. The Cold War was somewhat unique, and Russia today is not the Soviet Union. However, there is every reason to be worried about Russia´s willingness to use its modernized armed forces unilaterally abroad. Russia´s annexation of Crimea and its direct support for separatists in the Eastern-Ukraine were game-changers, both in terms of respect for international law and post-Cold War European stability and security architecture.<br /> <br /> The recent assassination attempt in the United Kingdom, where a Russian-produced nerve agent, Novichok, was used against a British citizen, a former Russian spy and his daughter, was also a shocking development – one which only widens the gulf between the West and Russia. Russia´s intervention in Syria and their defence of the Assad regime, even in the face of repeated use of chemical weapons, has also contributed to the current climate of distrust. Not to mention their suspected interference in the 2016 US elections.<br /> <br /> Iceland´s relations with Russia (and before that the Soviet Union) have traditionally been cordial, with particular focus on trade. This all changed in 2014 with Russia´s actions in the Crimea and in Ukraine where territorial borders were violated and changed with the use of military force – something we have not seen in Europe since the second World War.<br /> Iceland has, from the outset, participated in the sanctions regime. Russian counter-measures have not changed our policies although Iceland has been adversely hit – with the Russian counter-sanctions causing 95% decrease in export to Russia.<br /> <br /> We feel strongly about the principles involved. For a smaller country like Iceland, the respect and adherence to international law means everything. It is our sword, shield and shelter so to speak.<br /> <br /> Iceland´s relationship with Russia is currently also affected by the Salisbury incident, which we take very seriously and have sided with the UK and other Allies. The use of chemical weapons, whether in Syria or Europe cannot be normalised and tolerated, and needs to have consequences.<br /> <br /> We have taken measures and postponed all high-level bilateral meetings until further notice, and our dignitaries will be boycotting the World Cup in Russia this summer where our national team has quailified for the first time – an achievement that we, as a nation, are very proud of.<br /> <br /> Closer to home, in the North Atlantic, we also experienced a Russian military come-back already 11-12 years ago. Paradoxically, when the last of the US forces permanently based in Iceland had been withdrawn in 2006, Russia on virtually the same day chose to resume its strategic bomber flights.<br /> <br /> Furthermore, in recent years, we have seen a steep increase in Russian submarine activities in the North Atlantic and a greater number of operational submarines, including new and more advanced vessels, are sailing through the Greenland-Iceland-UK Gap (GIUK Gap) and, thereby, demonstrating a capability to disrupt trans-Atlantic communications and to threaten the North-American mainland, for example with cruise missiles.<br /> <br /> This development has resulted in increased and rotational presence of US and Allied forces in Iceland for air-policing and submarine surveillance. In 2014, Allied maritime surveillance aircraft operated out of Iceland for a total of 21 days. Since then, the number has risen year by year and in 2017 the number reached 153 days. <br /> <br /> Last year, a large submarine surveillance exercise, Dynamic Mongoose, took place south of Iceland, and later this year, Trident Juncture, will take place in Norway and Iceland.<br /> <br /> I can safely say that no Western country wants a return to Cold War conditions, with all the dangers and expense involved. Western countries want normal relations with Russia, as far as this is possible. But to pretend that nothing serious happened in 2014 would be opportunistic and short-sighted, and to ignore Russian behaviour in the UK recently would be naive and wrong. These are not isolated incidents but represent a pattern which also include cyber and hybrid tactics, disinformation and propaganda and meddling in domestic affairs, including elections.<br /> <br /> Attempting to sow division between the countries in the West has become a modus operandi for Russian authorities. Thankfully, however, the Western powers have shown remarkable unity and solidarity, which are key features and continue to characterise our transatlantic relations.<br /> <br /> Ladies and gentlemen, this brings me to our transatlantic alliance, NATO.<br /> <br /> As the only founding member of NATO without national armed forces, Iceland relies on Article 5 and a bilateral Defence Agreement with the US. Nonetheless, we contribute in many different ways to our national defence and the Alliance, through civilian capabilities, personnel and experience, and have our own perspective on security developments in our region in a broad sense. <br /> <br /> This is reflected in our National Security Policy, which enjoys cross-party support and sets the framework for the security and defence policy of our broadly-based coalition Government. <br /> <br /> Our National Security Policy takes a holistic approach to the security concept and includes elements of active foreign policy, defence policy and civil security alike. This is important and, in our view, we should not only focus on inputs and percentages on defence expenditure. <br /> <br /> There are various other ways to contribute to our common security. For example, with the stroke of pen, the Icelandic GDP shrunk by 1% as a result of Russian counter-sanctions. That was the prize of solidarity at that time. We are not complaining; I am simply saying that there are different ways of paying the bill.<br /> <br /> There also needs to be a sensible division of labour and balance between us as Allies and Partners. If all nations would reach the 2% on military expenditure tomorrow, there would be chaos. We would not be able to spend that money wisely and for our common good. <br /> We need to respect national sensitivities and different circumstances. At the same time, we all acknowledge that European countries need to assume further responsibility for our own and common security. This also applies to Iceland and, since 2014, we have dramatically increased our contributions to security and defence, 20-30% between years, both at home and to NATO in particular. We will continue on this path.<br /> <br /> The themes at the upcoming Brussels Summit this summer are shaping up and burden-sharing and relations with Russia will surely feature prominently. We are also pleased with the increased prominence given to the North-Atlantic in preparations for the Summit, including the establishment of a new trans-atlantic command in Norfolk and a new political-military assessment for the region. After all, NATO stands for the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation.<br /> <br /> The Alliance has a good story to tell and we hope to see continued unity and solidarity at the Summit. <br /> <br /> Ladies and gentlemen,<br /> Let me now turn to my second point on how we should and must broaden and strengthen our partnership and I want to focus on the Arctic in particular.<br /> Recently, increasing attention is being given to security in the Arctic and the circumpolar region, including so-called soft and hard security. I would like to offer an Icelandic perspective on some of the challenges in what we often refer to as the High North and, again, geography plays a key role.<br /> <br /> Iceland is located centrally in the North-Atlantic with Greenland to the West and the Faroe Islands, the UK and Norway to the East. The Arctic Circle touches Iceland´s northern tip and straight lines can be drawn through the Atlantic respectively to the North and South Poles. <br /> Successive Icelandic governments have expressed their hope that the Arctic would not be militarized beyond the levels seen following the end of the Cold War; a position that is manifested in our Arctic Policy from 2011, which was adopted through a consensus across the political spectrum.<br /> <br /> In most capitals, where the Arctic is on the agenda, there is recognition of legitimate Russian security interests in the region and the need to safeguard them with credible defence capabilities. However, the scope, speed and apparent ambition of the Russian military build-up in the Arctic does raise questions and, again, the pattern we see in the North-Atlantic and elsewhere are causes of major concern as I have mentioned. <br /> <br /> Nevertheless, there are many reasons for optimism in the High North where geography is, actually, not constant. In fact, it is rapidly changing. With growing global awareness of the economic potential and ecological fragility of the Arctic as a result of climate change, including concerns over conditions in the oceans, it is reassuring to witness rapidly expanding constructive political contacts and practical cooperation in both bilateral and multilateral fora. <br /> <br /> This global focus is long overdue. The geographic size of the Arctic is equal to the whole of Africa. The region includes the largest pristine wilderness in the world; a natural heritage to be safeguarded for future generations, while allowing for economic development for the benefit of the 4 million people who live there. <br /> <br /> The emission of greenhouse-gasses is minimal in the Arctic, but the consequences of climate change are faster and more visible there than any other place on Earth. The Arctic Council plays a key role in supporting environmental protection in the Arctic on the basis of scientific cooperation and research, taking into account the Paris Agreement and the Sustainable Development Goals.<br /> <br /> At the same time, the Council promotes sustainable development in the Arctic. People who live in the Arctic should enjoy security and prosperity, including local health care, education, employment and communications. Hence, we need a balanced and realistic approach, where protection of the environment and economic development go hand-in-hand and the fundamental interests of the inhabitants are respected. <br /> <br /> Three legally binding agreements have been negotiated under the auspices of the Arctic Council; on search-and-rescue, protective measures against oil spills and international scientific cooperation. Furthermore, the member state coast guards cooperate closely within the Arctic Coast Guard Forum. Rapidly growing tourism into distant and vulnerable parts of the region calls for clearer guidelines for tour-operators and more efficient search-and-rescue capabilities as well as preventive measures.<br /> <br /> All of these issues are considered in relation to the agenda for the Icelandic chairmanship of the Arctic Council starting in May 2019. More generally, we hope to reinforce the position of the Arctic Council as the premier forum for international deliberations on Arctic issues. <br /> All member states of the Arctic Council have a large stake in its continued success. That is why it has been possible to insulate this important forum from differences in other areas. That also explains why military security is not on the agenda. This separation is not always easy to maintain.<br /> <br /> The conflict in Ukraine and chemical attacks in the UK and Syria involve fundamental principles which affect most other aspects of international relations. But there is an understanding that the urgency of safeguarding mutual interests in the Arctic demands specific dialogue and cooperation. The clearly defined focus of the Arctic Council makes this possible. <br /> <br /> Ladies and gentlemen,<br /> It is worth noting how dramatic the changes taking place in the Arctic really are with the ice cap receding and opening up of alternative sailing routes connecting Asia with Europe and North America. <br /> <br /> The Asian powerhouses are all interested in the Arctic and have an observership status in the Arctic Council. This includes, Japan, South Korea, Singapore, India and China. <br /> China has recently adopted an Arctic Strategy and the Belt and Road Initiative speaks of a new Arctic Silk Route connecting Asia with Europe. <br /> <br /> China is on the rise and growing. The Chinese middle class, which has the means to travel and spend money, is more numerous than all citizens of North-America. This global trend is likely to continue where Asia will continue to grow and prosper. <br /> <br /> This is, by and large, good news and all countries, including mine, are increasingly looking towards Asia, including China, in developing our relations. <br /> <br /> We are, however, also very mindful of the differences between China and Western countries. We sometimes see the world differently. We do not always share the same values. We do and will have our differences, for example on human rights. Therefore, our cooperation in the Arctic, and elsewhere, needs to be transparent and based on reciprocity and mutual respect. <br /> <br /> We welcome China´s and other Asian countries interest in our region as long as international rules are respected. In fact, landmark negotiations on potential future Central Arctic Fisheries have recently been concluded between ten states, including Iceland, United States, Russia, China, Japan and South Korea. This is the kind of cooperation that we want – built on scientific evidence and international law.<br /> <br /> Our bilateral relations with China are also good, for example in the field of geothermal energy and scientific cooperation. We also have a well-functioning bilateral free-trade agreement with China, which has benefitted both countries. <br /> <br /> My only remark is the fact that we do not have a similar free trade agreement with the United States – our closest Ally and most important market – and I have used this visit in Washington to reiterate that point.<br /> <br /> And this, ladies and gentlemen, brings me to my third and final point; the importance of American leadership going forward.<br /> <br /> There are so many things we tend to take for granted. Democracy, rule of law, human rights. But these are not sure things. They must be protected and preserved.<br /> <br /> The history of our two nations, the very existence of the trans-atlantic link, is all about those values. The reason why the Americans came to Iceland in 1941 was to uphold freedom against the threat of tyranny.<br /> <br /> And following the war America shaped the world order on the basis of security, free trade and the values of free and open societies. And the world has prospered.<br /> <br /> Now we see new superpowers emerging. But if given the opportunity to shape the world we live in; will they have positive effects?<br /> <br /> We often talk about the free world as a part of the world. Why? Because there is part that is not free. Democracy and freedom are not terms in an international agreement – they are a way of life. Freedom of speech in our understanding also means freedom after speech.<br /> The things we take for granted can easily disappear. The new world order could be totally different from the one that has brought us freedom, security and prosperity over the last seven decades.<br /> <br /> This is not the time to be disengaged. This is not the time leave the stage to others. We need positive leadership in these times of rapid changes. We need solidarity between nations that share the same values.<br /> <br /> Ronald Reagan described America as a shining city upon a hill. We still need that vision. Now perhaps more than ever.<br /> <br /> Ladies and gentlemen,<br /> I want to end my speech by stressing the importance of Iceland´s relationship with the United States. It stands on solid ground and benefits both countries. We have a strong defence cooperation, excellent people-to-people contacts through tourism and frequent flight connections. We look forward to our continued engagement in Arctic affairs as Iceland assumes chairmanship in the Arctic Council and there is still untapped potential in our trade relations. <br /> <br /> We will continue to look for US leadership in the global arena in times of increased uncertainties - with Russia growing more assertive, China more confident, and Europe preoccupied with internal affairs.<br /> <br /> Old alliances must be maintained and nurtured and in Iceland you have a long-standing and trustworthy Ally. These are testing times and together we must champion of our common values, multilateralism, which both our countries gain from, and the international rules-based order.<br /> <br /> Thank you for your attention and I look forward to the discussions.<br /> <br /> </span></p>
15. maí 2018Blá ör til hægriRæða ráðherra á málþingi um frumbyggja á norðurslóðum<span>Frumbyggjar á norðurslóðum: <br /> Samræður um sjálfbær samfélög og sameiginlegar áskoranir<br /> Opið málþing í Norræna húsinu 15. maí 2018<br /> Opnunarávarp utanríkisráðherra, Guðlaugs Þórs Þórðarsonar<br /> <br /> Ladies and gentlemen, dear guests, <br /> I regret not being able to be with you in person but, at the same time, I am pleased that technology gives me the opportunity to address this important seminar.&nbsp; <br /> <br /> I would like to warmly welcome all of you to Iceland and a special welcome to our friends and colleagues representing the Indigenous Peoples Associations of the Arctic Council.<br /> The Arctic has become a buzz-word in modern society. Slogans for marketing brand everything from vitamins to vehicles as ARCTIC, and the region itself is seen both as an exotic tourist destination and as a land of business opportunities. <br /> <br /> Globalization and the ever-increasing melting of the Arctic ice cap has already moved the Arctic, if not physically then mentally, from the “end of the world” to the center of attention. <br /> The steady rise in numbers of Arctic Council observers over the years confirms this growing global interest. When the Arctic Council was first established in 1996, the observers had the modest number of 14. Today, the Arctic Council boasts 39 accredited observers, and over a dozen applications for observer status await decision.&nbsp; &nbsp;<br /> <br /> Dear friends,<br /> The Arctic Council is the main intergovernmental co-operation forum on Arctic matters, composed of eight sovereign states: Canada, the Nordic Countries, Russia and the United States – quite an interesting composition in itself.<br /> However, what is unique is the presence and participation of representatives of Arctic Indigenous Peoples in the work of the Arctic Council.<br /> Six associations of Arctic Indigenous Peoples have a seat at the table and have a so-called Permanent Participant Status. Their active involvement in the work of the Council truly makes the Arctic Council exceptional amongst other multinational organizations.<br /> <br /> It is fair to say that the participation of the Permanent Participants has helped the Arctic Council to develop and grow to the status it has today as the most important body for promoting a positive agenda and joint action on all the critical issues in the Arctic. <br /> Next spring, it will be Iceland’s turn to take over the Chairmanship of the Council and lead the work of the Arctic Council for two years. During our preparation phase we are consulting with other Arctic States and the Permanent Participants on the proposed Chairmanship program – consultations that we deem very important.<br /> <br /> My Arctic team at the Foreign Ministry had such a consultation meeting this morning with our colleagues from the Indigenous associations of the Arctic Council. &nbsp;<br /> Our keynote speakers here today belong to the Inuit, the Nenet, the Saami and the Athabaskan peoples. Four, out of over a dozen, culturally diverse first nations that live in the Arctic. <br /> They also represent four out of the six Permanent participants organizations of the Arctic Council. <br /> <br /> Ladies and gentlemen,<br /> In its history of 22 years, the Arctic Council has placed a particular emphasis on issues relating to sustainable development and especially on environmental protection. With increased international interest in the region, the Council’s attention has gradually been shifting towards a more balanced attention to all three pillars of sustainable development; environment, economy and social issues alike. &nbsp;<br /> <br /> In Iceland, we know only too well, that to be resilient, a society requires more than one source of income. Putting all your eggs in one basket by relying solely on one sector invites busts and booms. Neither one is particularly healthy. Sustainability requires diversity. That is equally true whether we speak of the ecosystem or the economy. <br /> <br /> We also know that all Arctic inhabitants, indigenous peoples and non-indigenous, must work together in finding innovative ways to ensure that traditional ways of life and modern economy can coexist in a sustainable manner in a changing Arctic.<br /> Cooperation should be our goal and during our upcoming Chairmanship in the Arctic Council we will take full account of your wishes and desires. Our intention is to be open and inclusive in our approach with sustainability, in all its aspects, as our guiding light.<br /> <br /> I wish you a productive afternoon, good discussions and a happy stay in Iceland. I look forward to our continued co-operation.<br /> Thank you.<br /> <br /> <br /> </span>
25. apríl 2018Blá ör til hægriRæða ráðherra á Sýrlandsráðstefnu í BrusselBrussels II Conference<br /> Supporting the Future of Syria and the Region<br /> Wednesday 25. April 2018<br /> Statement by H.E. Gudlaugur Thor Thordarson<br /> Minister for Foreign Affairs<br /> <br /> <br /> Mr. President, Ladies and Gentlemen,<br /> <br /> We gather here in Brussels today, just like we did a year ago, in the aftermath of an attack where chemical weapons appear to have been used. Last year, our conference was held after the horrendous attack on the town of Khan Sheikhoun, and today we are meeting under the black cloud of the events in the city of Douma two weeks ago.<br /> I can only reiterate Iceland´s strong condemnation of all use of chemical weapons. To ensure that the perpetrators of these heinous violations of international law, as well as other war-crimes, are held accountable, Iceland strongly supports the establishment and mandate of the International, Impartial and Independent Mechanism for Syria and urges the UN Secretary-General to propose a budget line for the mechanism to the UN General Assembly. <br /> This second Brussels conference aims to renew and strengthen the political, financial, and humanitarian commitment of the international community to support the Syrian people, the neighbouring countries, and the communities most affected by the crisis.<br /> Iceland will continue to support all efforts that may contribute to a political settlement. The people of Syria have suffered for seven long years, with casualties running in the hundreds of thousands. Anyone who is in a position to affect the situation must do so and do so now. We call on the Security Council to rise to the challenge and find a way forward.<br /> <br /> Ladies and gentlemen<br /> In the absence of peace and security it is imperative that we continue to care for those in need, and to provide humanitarian assistance for suffering civilians; both those still in Syria and those, who have fled and taken shelter in neighbouring countries. We must also pay tribute to the states and individuals that have generously opened their doors to those. <br /> Iceland will continue to provide support. Through cooperation with UNHCR we have offered homes to more than 150 Syrian refugees in the past three years and expect our close partnership with the Agency will continue. Furthermore, last year, at the first Brussels conference, I pledged we would provide a minimum of 7 million dollars from 2017 to 2020. We will honour that commitment and I am glad to be able to announce today that our contribution, of 2 million dollars this year, will rise to about 2,3 million dollars in 2019 and around 2,5 million in 2020. Most importantly, we will continue to be advocates for peace, dignity, and hope. May the message of peace be heard sooner rather than later.<br /> <br /> Thank you<br /> <br />
25. apríl 2018Blá ör til hægriÁvarp á jarðhitaráðstefnu í HörpuIceland Geothermal Conference, 25 April 2018<br /> Welcoming address by<br /> H.E. Guðlaugur Þór Þórðarson<br /> Minister for Foreign Affairs of Iceland<br /> <br /> <br /> President of Iceland Guðni Th. Jóhannesson,<br /> Distinguished speakers and participants,<br /> Ladies and gentlemen,<br /> <br /> It is an honor for me to welcome you to the Iceland Geothermal Conference, although I would have preferred to be with you in person.<br /> The world is at a crossroads and faced with challenges that can only be addressed effectively if we work together, organized and determined to reach our common goals. These goals were agreed upon when world leaders adopted the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and the Paris Agreement. <br /> We know that climate change and sustainable development are linked, and the impacts of climate change constitute a major challenge for achieving the Sustainable Development Goals. Our success in ensuring mitigation, adaptation and building resilience to climate change depends on our strategy and action to implement these goals across all sectors.<br /> Goal 7 “to ensure access to affordable, reliable, sustainable and modern energy for all” is of particular relevance for our discussions at this conference and this summer, at the United Nations in New York, we will review our progress. <br /> It is well known and documented that we need faster progress and stronger impact in all areas of sustainable energy. This includes access to energy, renewable energy development and energy efficiency. To achieve this, we need more financing, stronger policy commitments and active involvement of the private sector.<br /> <br /> Dear guests,<br /> It has been a long-standing policy of successive Icelandic Governments to support initiatives worldwide that aim to increase the utilization of geothermal energy. The potential is enormous and mostly untapped. One of the main reasons lies in the financial cost, where drilling deep wells to access a geothermal reservoir requires a big investment with considerable risk. For geothermal energy to remain a feasible option the industry must remain vigilant and find cost effective solutions and innovations. <br /> An important factor contributing to the feasibility of geothermal are the direct use opportunities. They have less technical barriers, are less costly, and result in visible social benefits and better air quality. This includes direct use of geothermal energy in heating of buildings, industry, agriculture and fishery sector. <br /> The nexus between food security and geothermal energy is also relevant. In Iceland we have used geothermal energy in the agricultural and fisheries sector for very long time. The drying of food products for preservation is a good example and well known around the world. This potential is, however, far from being fully developed in food systems where geothermal can be increasingly used as an energy source instead of fossil fuel. <br /> This was recognized last year in the first High-Level Conference of the Global Geothermal Alliance, which counts 43 member states and 31 partner institutions. This conference recommended that increased awareness about the technical feasibility and economic benefits of geothermal energy was needed.<br /> However, we have witnessed positive developments in the last few years. For example, impressive investments are taking place in China to build whole cities with district heating derived from geothermal energy. This transformation in China has been done with Icelandic participation – I am proud to say.<br /> There are great opportunities in breaking down barriers in the field of geothermal energy. The example from China shows what large-scale investments in infrastructure can do for air quality and improve quality of life – an impact that is both local and global in terms of climate change. <br /> In Iceland´s international development cooperation, geothermal energy has been one of the key focus areas in recent decades. We are proud to be able to share our experience with other countries, which hold potential in geothermal utilization, either for electricity or direct use. <br /> Most of you probably already know the United Nations Geothermal Training Programme, which is celebrating its 40 years anniversary. Almost 700 fellows from 60 countries have graduated from the Programme, which is the flagship of Iceland´s support to geothermal development. Furthermore, around 2.000 experts have participated in short courses worldwide and, as you may know, Kenya has recently surpassed Iceland in geothermal electricity production. We would like to believe that Iceland has, through capacity building, contributed to this great achievement in Kenya. <br /> In recent years, Iceland has also enjoyed productive co-operation with the World Bank and the Nordic Development Fund in enhancing geothermal utilization. This has involved support to countries in the East Africa Rift Valley. Also, through its Global Geothermal Development Plan and with Iceland´s support, the World Bank has raised over 250 million US Dollars in financing to overcome risk in geothermal development. <br /> Iceland, both public and private sector, is also actively participating in a SE4All driven initiative, which focuses on empowering women in the energy sector and unlocking finance to support gender responsive and socially inclusive energy access. <br /> Dear Guests,<br /> We know that opportunities for electricity production and direct use in countries with viable geothermal resources can make a significant difference for economic and social development, as well as mitigating climate change. This Conference provides a perfect opportunity to share knowledge and discuss how we can “break the barriers” to reach our goals. <br /> With the Iceland Geothermal Conference you have once again demonstrated the importance of having a common platform to promote the geothermal sector in Iceland and assist Icelandic companies to engage even further in international collaboration. <br /> <br /> Thank you, and I wish you a fruitful conference. <br />
24. apríl 2018Blá ör til hægriRæða ráðherra á fundi allsherjarþingsins um frið og öryggiHigh-Level Meeting on Peacebuilding and Sustaining Peace.<br /> 24 April 2018<br /> Statement by H.E. Gudlaugur Thór Thórdarson<br /> Minister for Foreign Affairs<br /> <br /> <br /> President of the General Assembly, Mr. Secretary-General, Excellencies, ladies and gentlemen.<br /> <br /> First allow me to thank the President of the General Assembly for convening this high-level meeting. The situation in Syria and Yemen, the repeated use of chemical weapons, record numbers of refugees and displaced persons – all these worrying examples in our world demand a new approach. <br /> Unfortunately, we cannot discuss peace and security in this forum without mentioning our disappointment with the work of the Security Council, especially as it concerns Syria. The world body responsible for ensuring peace is hampered by its inability to agree and move forward on the most urgent issues. We must hold the Security Council to a higher standard; thousands of lives depend on it. <br /> Nevertheless, there are positive things to be said of the work of the UN system. Under the leadership of the Secretary-General, the organization is refocusing its efforts to better ensure peace and security. <br /> We spend massive amounts on peacekeeping and humanitarian assistance in response to conflict. The Security Council decides our peacekeeping budget and it is roughly four times the annual UN regular budget. <br /> The last five years have seen an attempt to address this and important progress has been made at the policy level, shaping the concepts on sustaining peace and peacebuilding for the twenty-first century. We have realized that fire-fighting has limited impact if we then leave the site scattered with the original fire hazards. The fire will re-emerge. Prevention is better, cheaper and saves more lives. <br /> Agenda 2030 is our most powerful framework for peacebuilding and sustaining peace. If we achieve the Sustainable Development Goals, we will in fact build peace and provide much of the circumstances needed to sustain it. Remarkable conceptual work has also been carried out with the three landmark reports relating to peace operations (High level panel on peace operations, Global study on women and peace, peacebuilding). <br /> <br /> Mr. President<br /> I would like to thank the Secretary-General for his report “Peacebuilding and sustaining peace”. <br /> Iceland strongly supports the Secretary-General’s analysis. Sustaining peace requires a sustained effort – not only when conflict has broken out, but long beforehand and then following the achievement of peace. This means addressing the root causes, including human rights and governance issues. We also welcome the Secretary-General’s strong emphasis on the crucial role of women in sustaining peace and conflict prevention. They must be represented at all levels of decision making. <br /> <br /> Mr. President<br /> <br /> We all selected, through a rigorous and transparent process, a Secretary-General with a clear vision of what needs to be done to sustain peace. The United Nations are never stronger than its member states. We are now at a point where we, the membership, need to step up to the plate and support his leadership.<br /> <br /> Thank you. <br />
23. apríl 2018Blá ör til hægriRæða í öryggisráði Sameinuðu þjóðanna um ungt fólk, frið og öryggi<span></span> <p>United Nations Security Council<br /> New York, 23 April 2018<br /> Open debate on Youth, Peace and Security<br /> Address by H.E. Mr. Guðlaugur Þór Þórðarson</p> <p>Mr. President,<br /> <br /> I would like to thank the Peruvian Presidency of the Security Council for calling this open debate on Youth, Peace and Security. I thank the Secretary-General’s Special Envoy on Youth, Ms. Jayathma Wickramanyake and Mr. Graeme Simpson, lead author of the independent Progress Study on youth, peace and security, for their statements. The progress study is very informative, and Mr. Simpson and his team have clearly consulted widely.<br /> <br /> Shining out from this study is the fact that most young people hold a responsible and sophisticated world view. The 1.8 billion young people in our world are better connected than ever before. They know what is going on locally, regionally and globally in a way their parents and grandparents never did.<br /> <br /> This means they can compare what is happening in the various parts of the world – they see where government and democracy is working but they also see how deprivation, human rights abuses and inequality undermine peace and prosperity.<br /> <br /> Young people know that for societies to be peaceful and secure they will need more than just an absence of violence. They want to safeguard the planet and they are aware of climate change as a potential cause of conflict for future generations.<br /> <br /> Nevertheless, the Study reveals that governments tend to treat young people as a problem rather than partners for peace. Yet, most young people are peaceful. They want to take action and lead, but often feel excluded from the political process. Education has a powerful role in peacebuilding and sustaining peace, but getting it right is complex. Media gives a misleading view of young people, in particular young men, and certain political forces seek to manipulate them for political ends.<br /> <br /> Societies that allow young people to participate in public life are less likely to see violence. For example, the brutal repression of young demonstrators and political activists by the Syrian authorities contributed to igniting the seven-year long conflict. These and other elements in the Study should concern us deeply.<br /> <br /> <br /> <br /> Mr. President<br /> <br /> The study makes useful recommendations which the UN and the Security Council could consider more closely. We would support recommendations which keep youth, peace and security on the agenda. When the Security Council is designing peacekeeping operations, impact on youth should be considered. Inclusive processes for peace and security have been shown to give greater results. Hence, the participation of young people in efforts to prevent conflict is not only right, it is essential for success.<br /> <br /> The Security Council and the General Assembly must work together to make the youth, peace and security agenda operational. I welcome the expected Security Council Resolution on youth, peace and security and the decision by the President of the General Assembly Miroslav Lajčák to host a Youth Dialogue on May 30 this year.<br /> <br /> Thank you.</p>
12. apríl 2018Blá ör til hægriÁvarp á ársfundi Íslandsstofu<p>ÁRSFUNDUR ÍSLANDSSTOFU<br /> GRAND HÓTEL, 12. APRÍL 2018<br /> <br /> ÁVARP UTANRÍKISRÁÐHERRA <br /> Góðir gestir.<br /> Mig langar hér strax í upphafi að færa ykkur öllum þakkir.<br /> Þakkir fyrir að gæta að hagsmunum Íslands á erlendri grundu, þakkir fyrir að leggja fram krafta ykkar til að auka hagsæld íslensku þjóðarinnar með sókn á erlendum mörkuðum, þakkir fyrir þann metnað sem þið leggið í starf ykkar.<br /> Íslandsstofa hefur mikilvægu hlutverki að gegna. Og kannski hefur það hlutverk aldrei verið mikilvægara.<br /> <br /> Heimurinn er að breytast hratt, miklu hraðar en flestir vita. Við lifum þá tíma að kínverska millistéttin er orðin fjölmennari en íbúar Bandaríkjanna og Kanada samanlagt, nýjar siglingaleiðir kunna að opnast fyrr en varir sem gjörbreyta munu vöruflutningum á heimsvísu og þjónustuverslun á sér engin landfræðileg takmörk lengur.<br /> Það eru mikil tækifæri til staðar. En þau eru ekki sjálfgefin, um þau verður keppt. Hvort við Íslendingar náum árangri í þeirri keppni er undir okkur sjálfum komið.<br /> Okkur hefur gengið margt í haginn á síðustu árum. Við höfum gert margt vel en að sumu leyti höfum við verið heppin.En við getum ekki treyst á heppnina. Við megum ekki leyfa okkur að treysta á heppnina. Við erum í kapphlaupi við aðrar þjóðir og þær eru með plan. </p> <p>Við þurfum að vera í stakk búinn að keppa um þau tækifæri sem í boði eru. <br /> Við vitum hvað þarf að gera. Við þurfum að auka hér útflutningsverðmæti um einn milljarð króna í hverri einustu viku til halda þeim lífskjörum sem viljum búa við næstu tuttugu árin.<br /> Lífskjör okkar næstu áratugi munu ráðast af því hvernig okkur tekst til á allra næstu árum. Það er staðreynd og hún hvílir á okkar herðum.</p> <p>Það er í þessu ljósi sem við þurfum að horfa á hlutverk Íslandsstofu. Við munum aldrei ná þessu markmiði með því að vinna hvert og eitt í sínu horni. Við spilum á erfiðum útivelli. Atvinnulífið og stjórnvöld þurfa ganga til leiks sem eitt lið, Team Iceland.<br /> Íslandsstofa er hinn sameiginlegi vettvangur og hún þarf að vera farvegur þeirra krafta sem viljum sameina.<br /> Það er ekki síst af þessum ástæðum sem ég hef nú lagt fram og mælt fyrir frumvarpi á Alþingi um breytingar á lögum um Íslandsstofu. Breytingar á lögunum, ef þær ná fram að ganga, fela einkum í sér að skerpt verður á rekstrarfyrirkomulagi Íslandsstofu á þann veg að hún verði sjálfseignarstofnun. </p> <p>Breytingarnar fela einnig í sér að komið verður á þjónustusamningum sem kveða á um skyldur Íslandsstofu og hlutverk gagnvart hinu opinbera. <br /> Útflutnings- og markaðsráð, með breiðri aðkomu hins opinbera og atvinnulífs, fær samkvæmt frumvarpinu það hlutverk að marka langtímastefnu fyrir Ísland um alþjóðlega viðskipta- og markaðssókn.</p> <p>Á heildina litið gengur þetta út að gera stuðningskerfi útflutnings enn öflugra, samstilltara og sveigjanlegra en hingað til, þannig að þjónustan, ekki síst úti á mörkuðum, verði framúrskarandi og hún löguð að þörfum fyrirtækjanna í þágu aukins útflutnings, markvissari markaðssetningar og aukinna fjárfestinga á hverjum tíma.</p> <p>Það var þess vegna einstaklega ánægjuleg tilviljun, að sama dag og ég mælti fyrir breytingum á lögum um Íslandsstofa, skyldu lífeyrissjóðirnir færa íslenska ríkinu að gjöf vörumerkið Icelandic. Í afsalinu sem undirritað var í Safnahúsinu í fyrradag er þeim vilja lýst að vörumerkin verði falin Íslandsstofu til umsjónar og að vörumerkið verði nýtt til framtíðar fyrir hágæða íslenskar afurðir í alþjóðlegu markaðsstarfi, íslensku atvinnulífi til hagsbóta.<br /> Ætlunin er að í samstarfi stjórnvalda og atvinnulífsins á vettvangi Íslandsstofu verði vörumerkið Icelandic og tengd vörumerk gæðastimpill á íslenskar útflutningsvörur og útflutningsþjónustu. Íslensk fyrirtæki munu þannig geta tengt sig við uppruna sinn og notið góðs af jákvæðri ímynd landsins. <br /> <br /> Góðir gestir<br /> Ég vil í lokin ítreka þær þakkir sem ég færði ykkur í upphafi tölu minnar hér í dag. En ég vil líka brýna ykkur til frekari afreka. Við getum gert enn betur. <br /> Næstu ár skipta sköpum um það hvernig Íslandi mun farnast næstu áratugi. <br /> Sameiginlegt starf atvinnulífsins og stjórnvalda á vettvangi Íslandsstofu er lykilþáttur í þessu verkefni.</p> <p>Og munum: Á útivelli erum við öll í sama liðinu.</p> <br />
10. apríl 2018Blá ör til hægriNorðurslóðir í öndvegi<p><span>Umhverfi norðurslóða er að breytast – og það hratt. Vegna hlýnunar jarðar hækkar sjávarhitinn, hafísinn minnkar og jöklarnir hopa. Miðað við spár vísindamanna má af þessum sökum búast við ómældum áhrifum á vistkerfi lands og sjávar. Um leið gætu gjöfular náttúruauðlindir svæðisins orðið aðgengilegri, siglingar auðveldari og ræktunarskilyrði betri. Fyrir þær fjórar milljónir manna sem búa á þessum harðbýlu slóðum er áríðandi að spornað sé við neikvæðum áhrifum þessara breytinga og þau tækifæri sem í þeim kunna að felast verði fullnýtt með sjálfbærni að leiðarljósi. Samspil umhverfisverndar og auðlindanýtingar verður að vera í jafnvægi.</span></p> <p><span>Eftir rúmt ár tekur Ísland við formennsku í Norðurskautsráðinu, mikilvægasta vettvangi umræðu og ákvarðanatöku um um málefni norðurslóða. Í því eiga sæti Norðurlöndin, Bandaríkin, Kanada og Rússland, auk samtaka frumbyggja. Samstarfið hefur vaxið ört frá því ráðið var stofnað árið 1996. Fjölgun áheyrnaraðila og aukin þátttaka þeirra í ýmsum verkefnum ráðsins sýnir glöggt hve víðtæka skírskotun málefni norðurslóða hafa. Þá hefur stofnun hliðarsamtaka við ráðið gefið samstarfinu nýja vídd. Dæmi um það er Efnahagsráð norðurslóða sem fulltrúar viðskiptalífs aðildarríkjanna skipa.</span></p> <p><span>Undirbúningur fyrir formennsku Íslands í Norðurskautsráðinu hófst fyrir alvöru á síðasta ári. Þar hef ég lagt ríka áherslu á víðtækt samráð hér innanlands, bæði á á pólitískum vettvangi en einnig við atvinnulífið, háskólasamfélagið, frjáls félagasamtök, stjórnsýslu. Nýverið ræddi ég við fulltrúa í utanríkismálanefnd Alþingis þar sem fram kom mikil samstaða um mikilvægi formennsku Íslands og málaflokkinn í heild. Þessa samstöðu viljum við treysta enn frekar í sessi. </span></p> <p><span>Í þau tvö ár sem Ísland fer með formennsku í Norðurskautsráðinu stýra Íslendingar starfsemi ráðsins og móta áherslurnar. Í þessu felst einstakt tækifæri til víðtækrar samvinnu um málefni norðurslóða og til að láta gott af sér leiða í þágu svæðisins og íbúa þess. Viðbrögð við yfirvofandi breytingum á umhverfi norðurslóða eru þar tvímælalaust mikilvægasta áskorunin. Í formennskutíð sinni mun Ísland því leggja áherslu hagfellda þróun á norðurslóðum með sjálfbærni að leiðarljósi í öllu tilliti: umhverfislegu, efnahagslegu og félagslegu. </span></p> <p><span><em>Greinin birtist í Fréttablaðinu 10. apríl 2018. </em><br /> </span></p>
26. febrúar 2018Blá ör til hægriMannréttindi eru hornsteinninn<p><span>„Allir eru bornir frjálsir og jafnir öðrum að virðingu og réttindum.“ Þannig hljóðar upphaf mannréttindayfirlýsingar Sameinuðu þjóðanna en í ár eru sjötíu ár liðin síðan hún var samþykkt. </span></p> <p><span>Tímamótanna verður minnst á vettvangi Sameinuðu þjóðanna allt þetta ár en hátíðahöldin ná hámarki á alþjóðlega mannréttindadeginum, 10. desember. Sérhvert aðildarríki Sameinuðu þjóðanna er hvatt til að minnast tímamótanna, hvert með sínum hætti, stjórnvöld og almenningur. Við Íslendingar látum ekki okkar eftir liggja, nægar eru áskoranirnar á alþjóðavettvangi.</span></p> <p><span>Mannréttindi eru einn af hornsteinum íslenskrar utanríkisstefnu. Við sem störfum í utanríkisþjónustunni tökum alvarlega það hlutverk okkar að tala fyrir mannréttindum, bæði á vettvangi alþjóðastofnana og í tvíhliða samskiptum við önnur ríki. Sjálfur fæ ég í dag tækifæri til að ávarpa Mannréttindaráð Sameinuðu þjóðanna öðru sinni, þegar það kemur til fundar í Genf. </span></p> <p><span>Mannréttindaráðið er einn helsti vettvangur umræðu um mannréttindamál á alþjóðavettvangi. Aðildarríki SÞ eiga þar mikilvæg skoðanaskipti um stöðu mannréttinda og í ráðinu gefst tækifæri til að bera upp þær áhyggjur sem menn kunna að hafa af þróun í tilteknum ríkjum og í tilteknum málaflokkum.</span></p> <p><span>Málafylgja Íslands í mannréttindaráðinu vakti athygli á síðasta ári og forystuhlutverk það sem við tókum í málefnum Filippseyja en stjórnvöld þar í landi hafa kosið að beita aðferðum í baráttu sinni gegn útbreiðslu fíkniefna sem ganga gróflega í bága við mannréttindi. Það er ánægjulegt að rödd okkar hafi heyrst, með þeim hætti sem raun bar vitni, og hvetur okkur til dáða. </span></p> <p><span>Það er mikilvægt að rödd Íslands hljómi hátt og skýrt í Mannréttindaráðinu, okkar áherslur á algild mannréttindi, kynjajafnrétti og réttindi hinsegin fólks. Við munum halda áfram að beita okkur með svipuðum hætti. Þannig stöndum við best vörð um þau réttindi sem mannréttindayfirlýsingin felur í sér. </span></p> <p><span><em>Greinin birtist í Fréttablaðinu 26. febrúar 2018. </em><br /> <br /> </span></p>
26. febrúar 2018Blá ör til hægriRæða utanríkisráðherra í mannréttindaráði Sameinuðu þjóðannaMannréttindaráð Sameinuðu þjóðanna<br /> Ræða Guðlaugs Þórs Þórðarsonar utanríkisráðherra<br /> Genf, 26. febrúar 2018<br /> <br /> <br /> <br /> Mr. President,<br /> High Commissioner,<br /> Excellencies,<br /> Ladies and Gentlemen,<br /> <br /> This year, as we celebrate the seventieth anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, it is appropriate to go back to basics.<br /> <br /> Article 1 pretty much says it all: “All human beings are born free and equal in dignity and rights. They are endowed with reason and conscience and should act towards one another in a spirit of brotherhood.”<br /> <br /> How can anyone object to the thought and meaning inherent in these words?<br /> <br /> Article 2 also states very clearly that “everyone is entitled to all the rights and freedoms set forth in this Declaration, without distinction of any kind, such as race, colour, sex, language, religion, political or other opinion, national or social origin, property, birth or other status”.<br /> <br /> Article 3 is short and to the point: “Everyone has the right to life, liberty and security of person.”<br /> <br /> So is article 5: “No one shall be subjected to torture or to cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment.”<br /> <br /> I am reciting some articles of this fundamental document because many of the issues facing this body, the Human Rights Council, would unfortunately suggest that not every member state of the United Nations is shouldering its responsibility - to fully respect the rights of all human beings under the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.<br /> <br /> Governments were not coerced by the UN or anyone else into creating the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. It was created because it seemed imperative, after the horrors of the Second World War, to create a better world where everyone would have full and equal human rights.<br /> <br /> So why does not everyone live up to the ideals of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and why are we living in a period when, according to the High Commissioner, there is an increasing tendency to try and negate and deny the value of human rights?<br /> <br /> <br /> <br /> Mr. President,<br /> <br /> I take this opportunity to recognize and applaud the work of the High Commissioner who has shown courage in speaking out about negative trends in the field of global human rights. And while I am an optimist by nature, and tend to try always to see the positive, one has to agree with the High Commissioner that we are falling short on too many fronts.<br /> <br /> But what can be done when states violate the commitments they have taken upon themselves to respect and who is to hold them accountable? Can we not agree that it is primarily us – other states that have taken upon ourselves to accept these obligations? We should not point towards the UN as some body unrelated to the states that make up its membership. We must hold each other to account.<br /> <br /> Mr. President,<br /> <br /> Last year, Iceland took the lead in this body in highlighting the human rights situation in the Philippines and were joined in our statements by close to 40 states.<br /> <br /> We shared our concerns over the methods, used by the Government of the Philippines, in their “war on drugs”, and we urged the Government to take all necessary measures to bring unlawful killings to an end, and to cooperate with the international community to pursue appropriate investigations in keeping with universal principles of democratic accountability and the rule of law.<br /> <br /> We welcome reports that the Philippines have indicated that they may be willing to cooperate with the UN to allow an objective assessment of the human rights situation in the country. We would like to take this opportunity to urge the Philippines to continue on that path and to accept, without preconditions or limitations, a visit from the UN Special Rapporteur and to cooperate with the Office of the High Commissioner to receive a mission by independent experts to conduct such an assessment without delay.<br /> <br /> The International Criminal Court announced earlier this month that it will conduct a preliminary examination into killings linked to the Philippine government’s “war on drugs.”<br /> <br /> This is an important development – but it does not take the responsibility away from this body to fulfill its duty to monitor, investigate and to deliberate, and take further steps, including a more formal Council initiative if the need arises, to try and ensure the Philippines meets its human rights obligations.<br /> <br /> Mr. President,<br /> <br /> It should be noted, that the Philippines is currently an elected member of the Human Rights Council.<br /> <br /> So too is the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, recently accused of widespread and arbitrary arrests through its use of counter-terrorism and security laws, and the persecution of human rights defenders for peacefully exercising their fundamental rights.<br /> <br /> So too is Venezuela, a country which has in recent months and years witnessed excessive use of force by security officers, and multiple other human rights violations, in the context of anti-Government protests.<br /> <br /> Egypt is also a member of the Council and yet the High Commissioner has recently informed us of reports of oppressive measures by the Government, including increasing waves of arrests, allegations of torture in detention, extra-judicial killings and restrictions on human rights defenders.<br /> <br /> States which join the Council should lead by example and expect their own human rights record to be subject to particular scrutiny during their time as members. If the Human Rights Council does not hold its own members to account to ensure they uphold the highest standards in the promotion and protection of human rights, then who will?<br /> <br /> Mr. President,<br /> <br /> We are deeply concerned over the terrible suffering of civilians in the never-ending conflicts in Syria and in Yemen. Recent images from Ghouta in Syria, and similar news reports from Yemen, have provoked, once again, strong reactions. The Security Council on Saturday agreed on a ceasefire which is a step in the right direction. However, it is imperative that we do our utmost to pressure those responsible to bring the killing to a complete stop and allow for humanitarian access to take place. The world cannot stand by, yet again, while massacres are being committed in broad delight, and innocent women, children and men killed indiscriminately.<br /> <br /> Mr. President,<br /> <br /> Women's rights are human rights. For us, gender equality is a priority. For Icelanders it is a source of pride to be the frontrunner in the World Economic Forum's Global Gender Gap Index for the ninth year in a row. Ranking at the top is a confirmation of successes achieved in recent decades and inspires us to share with others, advocate changes and do better ourselves.<br /> <br /> My Government is committed to eradicating gender-based wage discrimination at home and, inspired by the global #metoo revolution, we aim to eradicate sexual violence, including in the cybersphere. We aim to ratify soon the Istanbul Convention on preventing and combating violence against women and domestic violence.<br /> <br /> We will also continue to speak out, in this arena and elsewhere, on the rights of lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex (LGBTI). At home, my Government aims to pass ambitious legislation on self-determination based on gender awareness. Abroad, I am happy to say that we plan to accept an invitation to join the Equal Rights Coalition, a partnership of 35 countries, where we hope to work with other like-minded countries to promote and protect the fundamental rights of LGBTI individuals.<br /> <br /> Mr. President,<br /> <br /> Last autumn, Iceland chaired the UN General Assembly´s Third Committee and, in that capacity, we were proud to welcome to New York, for the first time, the Independent Expert on sexual orientation and gender identity - a function wisely established by this Council recently. During our chairmanship, the Committee passed almost sixty resolutions, some of them regular items, but others brand new - such as the resolution on the human rights situation in Myanmar.<br /> <br /> The Committee unfortunately faces some of the same challenges as the Human Rights Council with regards to its workload. We believe much can still be done to streamline and strengthen the coordination between the Third Committee and this Council to make our work for our common agenda more effective. We remain available to take part in any work to that effect.<br /> <br /> Mr. President,<br /> <br /> As we celebrate the seventieth anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights we accept the challenge the High Commissioner has given us - to mobilize once more and strive to reach universal respect for, and observation of, the human rights and fundamental freedoms we so cherish.<br /> <br /> Thank you.
18. janúar 2018Blá ör til hægriÁvarp hjá Alþjóðlegu friðarrannsóknarstofnuninni í Stokkhólmi (SIPRI)<p>Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI)<br /> Stockholm, 18 January 2018<br /> Address by H.E. Guðlaugur Þór Þórðarson<br /> Minister for Foreign Affairs of Iceland<br /> <br /> Ladies and gentlemen,<br /> It is a great honour for me to have the opportunity to address such a distinguished audience at such a respected venue. For decades, SIPRI has done valuable research in the field of international security and armaments, including arms control, and made a substantive contribution to an informed debate on these important issues.</p> <p>Recently, increasing attention is being given to security in the Arctic and the circumpolar region, including so-called soft and hard security, and I would like to offer an Icelandic perspective on some of the challenges in what we often generally refer to as the High North.<br /> Geography is constant and presents us with lasting strategic facts. Iceland is located centrally in the North-Atlantic with Greenland to the West and the Faroe Islands, the UK and Norway to the East. The Arctic Circle touches Iceland´s northern tip and straight lines can be drawn through the Atlantic respectively to the North and South Poles. This geostrategic location has largely determined Iceland´s security policy since the mid-20th Century.</p> <p>For many centuries, geography was both a curse and a blessing for Iceland. In addition to an unforgiving climate and destructive volcanoes, a small population lived in relative isolation and relied on imported basic necessities for survival. At the same time, these conditions meant that Iceland was more or less sheltered from continuous great power conflicts on the Continent and for about 500 years Iceland remained a part of the Kingdom of Denmark.</p> <p>The most sought-after resource of Iceland was fish, which was harvested at different times by foreign powers such as the Hanseatic League, England and France. But none of them left a significant footprint in the country and the last foreign fishing vessels were pushed out of Icelandic waters following the Cod Wars in the 1970´s. </p> <p>The development of naval technology, particularly submarines, and later aviation, including long-range aircraft, meant that Iceland became a strategic hub. The first indications of changing circumstances appeared during the First World War and they were firmly in place when the Second World War broke out.</p> <p>When Norway was occupied in 1940, the British had no choice other than to send military forces to Iceland for the defence of their North-Atlantic sea routes. In pre-Pearl Harbour 1941, the United States realized that a forward presence in Iceland was essential to sustaining Britain and to the defence of the Eastern US-seaboard.<br /> This was the birth of the trans-Atlantic link. During the Cold War, secure communications between North-America and Europe became fundamental to the credibility and viability of NATO and a forward position in the North-Atlantic remained crucial to the defence of the North-American mainland. </p> <p>In the 1970´s and 1980´s, experts frequently referred to Keflavík as the „anti-submarine warfare capital of the world” and flights by Soviet long-range bombers into the Icelandic military-identification zone were common. Fortunately, the Soviet Union collapsed and the Cold War ended without a major conflict.</p> <p>Since Russia was regarded as a strategic partner and the fighting in Iraq and Afghanistan demanded huge resources, the last of the US forces were withdrawn from Iceland in 2006. Paradoxically, when this decision could have been seen as a significant step towards reducing US military presence in the North-Atlantic, Russia chose to resume its strategic bomber flights on virtually the same day as the base in Keflavik was closed.</p> <p>Thereby, the Russian government did not seize this opportunity to de-escalate and, actually, Russian bombers started flying closer to our shores than ever before. The Icelandic government reacted by voicing its concern, including at the NATO-Russia Council Summit Meeting in Bucharest in 2008, and by requesting and receiving NATO air surveillance. So, we experienced the Russian military come-back already 11-12 years ago.<br /> Unfortunately, this general trend has since continued and grown around the Northern hemisphere. It is alarming in the context of Russia´s willingness to use its modernized armed forces unilaterally abroad. Russia´s annexation of Crimea and its direct support for separatists in the Eastern-Ukraine were game-changers, both in terms of respect for international law and post-Cold War European stability and security architecture.</p> <p>No Western country wants a return to Cold War conditions, with all the dangers and expense involved. All Western countries want normal relations with Russia. But to pretend that nothing serious happened in 2014 would be opportunistic and short-sighted.<br /> NATO has been forced to react with a renewed focus on deterrence and collective defence. Who would have thought a few years ago that territorial defence would again become topical in Northern-Europe?</p> <p>This has resulted in enhanced forward presence, exercises and capability developments with increased defence budgets. I realize that the security challenges in the Baltic region are in many ways more immediate than in the North-Atlantic. However, the sea-lines of communication and strategic air corridors across the Atlantic are also getting more attention within the Alliance, and security in the Baltic region and North-Atlantic are closely linked. Most recently, this also extends to securing underwater cables which provide essential electronic communications. </p> <p>Ladies and gentlemen,</p> <p>How does all of this affect Iceland? As the only founding member of NATO without national armed forces, Iceland relies on Article 5 and a bilateral Defence Agreement with the US. Nonetheless, we contribute in many different ways to national defence and the Alliance, through civilian capabilities, personnel and experience, and have our own perspective on security developments in our region in a broad sense. This is reflected in our recently adopted National Security Policy, which enjoys cross-party support and sets the framework for the security and defence policy of our broadly-based coalition Government. </p> <p>Our National Security Policy takes a holistic approach to the security concept and includes elements of active foreign policy, defence policy and civil security alike. This is important and, in our view, we should not only focus on inputs and percentages on defence expenditure. Yes, there is quality in quantity but there are various other ways to contribute to our common security.</p> <p>For example, with the stroke of pen, the Icelandic GDP shrunk by 1% because of Iceland´s participation in the Western sanctions regime and Russian counter-measures. That was the prize of solidarity at that time. We are not complaining; I am simply saying that there are different ways of paying the bill.</p> <p>There also needs to be a sensible division of labour and balance between us as Allies and Partners. If all nations would reach the 2% on military expenditure tomorrow, there would be chaos. We would not be able to spend those money wisely and for our common good. </p> <p>And there are internal sensitivities involved. Just look at Germany which has been hesitant in moving towards the 2% benchmark for historical reasons.</p> <p>We need to respect national sensitivities and different circumstances. At the same time, we all acknowledge that European countries need to assume further responsibility for our own and common security. This also applies to Iceland and last month, at the NATO Foreign Ministers meeting, I announced further increases and contributions to security and defence, and NATO in particular. We will continue on this path.</p> <p>Ladies and gentlemen,</p> <p>Successive Icelandic governments have expressed their hope that the Arctic would not be militarized beyond the levels seen following the end of the Cold War; a position that is manifested in our Arctic Policy from 2011, which was also adopted through a consensus across the political spectrum.</p> <p>In most capitals, where the Arctic is on the agenda, there is recognition of legitimate Russian security interests in the region and the need to safeguard them with credible defence capabilities. However, the scope, speed and apparent ambition of the Russian military build-up in the Arctic does raise understandable questions.</p> <p>Where is the threat to Russia posed by other states in the Arctic? Why do some of the Russian capabilities seem to be offensive rather than defensive, for example brigade combat teams, which include a parachute battalion?</p> <p>This pattern is reflected in the North-Atlantic, where enhanced Russian military capabilities have resulted in growing activity. In the vicinity of Iceland, the frequency of strategic bomber flights has fallen slightly in the past two years but, instead, there has been a marked increase in submarine traffic.</p> <p>A greater number of operational submarines, including new and more advanced vessels, are sailing through the Greenland-Iceland-UK Gap (GIUK Gap) and, thereby, demonstrating a capability to disrupt the trans-Atlantic communications referred to earlier and to threaten the North-American mainland, for example with cruise missiles.</p> <p>In the post-Cold War period, most NATO-countries regarded anti-submarine warfare expertise as having become almost irrelevant, even to such an extent that the UK decided not to replace its aging maritime surveillance aircraft. Now, there is a rush to catch up, both in terms of equipment and training. </p> <p>This can be seen in Keflavík. In 2014, Allied maritime surveillance aircraft operated out of Iceland for a total of 21 days. Since then, the number has risen year by year and in 2017 the number reached 153 days. The US Congress has approved the financing of renovations of facilities at what used to be the US Naval Air Station, which will enable more periodic deployments of American P-8 aircraft.</p> <p>When British and Norwegian P-8 aircraft have become fully operational, NATO´s capability to monitor submarines in the North-Atlantic will be greatly enhanced. In the meantime, operational maintenance and infrastructure improvements are being undertaken at Keflavík to ensure the availability of facilities to support Alliance missions in the North-Atlantic. Iceland cooperates closely with the Allies concerned and takes its responsibilities as a host-nation very seriously.</p> <p>Last year, I signed a joint declaration with my Norwegian counterpart where we pledge to enhance our co-operation on security and defence. Also, our co-operation with the United States continues to evolve and, as I said, the US has been rapidly increasing their footprint in Iceland. However, for the sake of clarity and to avoid any misunderstanding, I should add that no one is contemplating a permanent military presence in the country. </p> <p>The North-Atlantic is a large geographic area and the necessary coordination of the activities of a number of Allies is a complex task. Since 2002, when the command of the Supreme Allied Commander Atlantic (SACLANT) was re-designated as Allied Commander Transformation (ACT) without a geographic or operational mandate, there has been a vacuum in the NATO military command structure, as far as the North-Atlantic is concerned. This is now being rectified in an ongoing NATO review, with the re-establishment of a trans-Atlantic command.</p> <p>For understandable reasons, the North-Atlantic is not among the top daily priorities of the Swedish and Finnish armed forces but Iceland highly values the growing consultations, cooperation and coordination of Nordic defence ministers under the hat of NORDEFCO. This adds an important and increasingly relevant dimension to Nordic cooperation.</p> <p>The training deployments of Swedish and Finnish fighter-interceptors to Iceland, which took place side-by-side of NATO air surveillance mission in 2014, reflect the progress which has been made and are greatly appreciated. Within NATO, Iceland consistently supports close ties with Sweden and Finland as our most valued partners. </p> <p>Ladies and gentlemen,</p> <p>Even though there are dark clouds on the horizon, there are many reasons for optimism regarding prospects in the High North. With growing global awareness of the economic potential and ecological fragility of the Arctic as a result of climate change, including concerns over deteriorating conditions in the oceans, it is reassuring to witness rapidly expanding constructive political contacts and practical cooperation in both bilateral and multilateral fora. </p> <p>This global focus is long overdue. The geographic size of the Arctic is equal to the whole of Africa. The region includes the largest pristine wilderness in the world; a natural heritage to be safeguarded for future generations, while allowing for economic development for the benefit of the 4 million people who live there. </p> <p>The emission of greenhouse-gasses is minimal in the Arctic but the consequences of climate change are faster and more visible there than any other place on Earth. The Arctic Council plays a key role in setting standards for environmental protection in the Arctic, in conformity with the Paris Agreement and the Sustainable Development Goals, and on the basis of scientific cooperation and research.</p> <p>At the same time, the Council promotes sustainable development in the Arctic. People who live in the Arctic are entitled to the same security and prosperity as others, including local health, education, employment and communications. Hence, we need a balanced and realistic approach, where protection and development go hand-in-hand and the fundamental interests of the inhabitants are respected. </p> <p>Three legally binding agreements have been negotiated under the auspices of the Arctic Council; on search-and-rescue, protective measures against oil spills and international scientific cooperation. Furthermore, the member state coast guards cooperate closely within the Arctic Coast Guard Forum. Rapidly growing tourism into distant and vulnerable parts of the region, calls for clearer guidelines for tour-operators and more efficient search-and-rescue capabilities.</p> <p>All of these issues will, no doubt, be on the agenda during the two-year Icelandic chairmanship of the Arctic Council starting in May 2019. More generally, we hope to reinforce the position of the Arctic Council as the premier forum for international deliberations on Arctic issues. </p> <p>This means that while the prerogatives of the member states will obviously be maintained, we support the inclusive participation of observer states and other relevant actors, most notably indigenous people. </p> <p>All member states of the Arctic Council have a large stake in its continued success. That is why it has been possible to insulate this important forum from differences in other areas. That also explains why military security is not on the agenda. This separation is not easy to maintain.</p> <p>For example, the conflict in Ukraine involves fundamental principles which affect most other aspects of international relations. But there is an understanding that the urgency of safeguarding mutual interests in the Arctic demands specific dialogue and cooperation. The clearly defined focus of the Arctic Council makes this possible.</p> <p>For decades, while being a founding-member of NATO, Iceland had quite active political, cultural and commercial relations with the Soviet Union and since the foundation of the Russian Federation bilateral relations have been relatively cordial and constructive. <br /> Following the annexation of Crimea, Iceland, as previously mentioned, joined other Allies in imposing selective and targeted sanctions against Russian individuals and companies involved. Russia responded with wide-ranging counter-sanctions, which have reduced Icelandic exports to Russia by more than 90%.</p> <p>Despite this, Iceland has maintained contacts with Russia at the highest levels and internationally we continue to advocate a two-track approach, combining steadfastness when necessary and dialogue and cooperation where possible. Iceland wants Russia to have its rightful place in the European family, but it needs to be on the basis of our common European values.</p> <p>Iceland interacts multilaterally with Russia not only in the Arctic Council but also in the Barents Euro-Arctic Council, the Council of Baltic Sea States, both of which are now under the able chairmanship of Sweden, and through the Northern Dimension.</p> <p>All these fora form a substantial part of established regional cooperation in Northern-Europe, which may sometimes appear redundant or overlapping but continues to provide a framework for constructive engagement and, as originally intended, confidence-building. We strongly support the maintenance and use of this structure. Meeting and talking is always preferable to tension and conflict.</p> <p>It can be hard to make a clear distinction between hard and soft security, and increasingly so during times of technological advances, hybrid warfare and cyber-attacks. The two concepts and the instruments involved are frequently interlinked. The High North is no exception.<br /> However, in Iceland we hope that this part of the world will become an example of how political and practical regional cooperation can result in an area of stability and cooperation. We have no illusions about the use of „realpolitik“ or the facts on the ground but there is still an opportunity to achieve this objective. High North – but low tension!</p> <p>Thank you.</p>
29. nóvember 2017Blá ör til hægriÁvarp á Women Political Leaders Annual SummitWomen Political Leaders Annual Summit<br /> Harpa, Reykjavik<br /> 29 November 2017<br /> <br /> President Guðni Th. Jóhannesson, former President Vigdís Finnbogadóttir, Excellencies, distinguished guests, ladies and gentlemen,<br /> It is an honour to be with you today and an honour for Iceland that you have chosen to gather here in Iceland this year. <br /> Over the last few decades women have become more empowered and progress towards gender equality in the world cannot be ignored. Nevertheless, we have a long way to go. If we want to see a gender equal world by the year 2030, we really must roll up our sleeves and get to work.<br /> A couple of years ago, world leaders agreed to a new agenda, Agenda 2030 and the Global Goals. It provides a blueprint for how we can work together for a sustainable future and right now, all of our countries are hard at work figuring out how to implement those goals. <br /> I mention this here because all of you hold a position of power and influence in your countries. The equal participation of women at all levels, the respect for women‘s human rights and the empowerment of women will be fundamental to our success in reaching all the other goals. Because half of our human resources are women, who given the opportunity will make our societies wealthier, healthier and better in every way. <br /> When I make the case for gender equality in the international arena, I always point to how it benefits us men. Men in gender equal societies tend to live longer and such societies are both more prosperous and more peaceful. This resonates with all men, because we all want to live a long peaceful life. <br /> It has been our fortune, here in Iceland, that increased respect for women‘s human rights and their economic participation has contributed in a meaningful way to social and economic development. The world has taken note of Iceland‘s leadership in the field of gender equality. We have many brave women to thank for our progress but in my mind, our former President, Ms. Vigdís Finnbogadottir, is first among equals. Her historic election marked a milestone for gender equality in Iceland. <br /> She won the hearts and minds of all Icelanders, men and women, young and old. She showed all of us that women can lead a country – and believe me, there were many sceptics at the time of her election. <br /> It is therefore fitting that she is will receive a special award here today. <br /> I would like to congratulate Ms. Hanna Birna Kristjánsdóttir and the Women Political Leaders organization on making this summit a reality and all of you for making the effort to come all the way to Iceland to participate in this important meeting. <br /> I wish you a productive meeting and I hope to see you in Iceland again someday.<br />
20. nóvember 2017Blá ör til hægriÁvarp á Hringborði norðurslóða í Edinborg<p>EDINBURGH ARCTIC CIRCLE FORUM SCOTLAND AND THE NEW NORTH, <br /> ADDRESS BY H.E. GUÐLAUGUR ÞÓR ÞÓRÐARSON, MINISTER FOR FOREIGN AFFAIRS OF ICELAND <br /> EDINBURGH, 20 NOVEMBER 2017</p> <p>Honorable First Minister Nicola Sturgeon, <br /> Former President of Iceland Ólafur Ragnar Grímsson, <br /> Excellencies, ladies and gentlemen. </p> <p>I would like to thank the Scottish government for hosting the Arctic Circle Forum in this beautiful city and take the opportunity to commend Mr. Ólafur Ragnar Grímsson for bringing the dialogue here to Edinburgh. We are here today to discuss and exchange views on Scotland and the New North: An important issue for Scotland and Iceland alike.</p> <p>Iceland and Scotland are close neighbors. Only two hours by flight separate us and our relationship and cooperation has been and continues to be strong. Many Icelanders have studied here in Scotland and Edinburgh in particular. For decades, Leith was the first port of call of our only passenger vessel, Gullfoss, and our first glimpse of the outside world.</p> <p>Our national anthem was written in Scotland and the famous “húh” – the Viking clap – which we hope to hear resonate loud in Russia next summer, originates from Motherwell – a Scottish football club, although we gladly claim the credit. And still today, Icelanders love to go on a shopping spree in Glasgow. Old habits die hard.<br /> I am also pleased to see many other next-door northern neighbors here today, for example from the Faroe Islands and Greenland, but also friends and colleagues from further afield. This is the essence of the Arctic Circle Assemblies – to bring together different people with even different perspectives for a dialogue, to exchange views, forge relationships and enhance our common understanding.</p> <p>Historically, people have traveled from north to south. People in the north went south for education and to trade and market their goods. The northern areas have been frontiers societies where conditions were harsh and unpredictable, and people moved towards the south in search of better livelihoods. Economic booms and busts have been common in the fragile economies of the North. Too often these economies were too dependent on a single economic resource. In Iceland´s case the catching and export of fish.</p> <p>Today, compared to last century when Icelanders disembarked at the port in Leith, we see a totally different picture. Globalization, greater mobility for people and companies, logistics, connectivity and trade have brought us benefits that previous generations would have thought impossible. Indeed, this Arctic Circle Forum will reveal information from companies in Iceland that have fueled this growth in recent years in aviation, tourism and shipping and logistics.</p> <p>The countries and regions in the North, such as Iceland and Scotland, have in the last decades been able to diversify their economy and use their resources to increase prosperity, raise living standards and quality of life for their citizens. This trend, I believe, will continue. The North is becoming ever more attractive. People are moving from south to north.</p> <p>Still, the North has a lot of untapped potential. Between Greenland in the west and Norway and Scotland to the east we can, and should, increase our cooperation. In Iceland, we have made a dedicated effort to increase our relations and cooperation with the Faroe Islands and Greenland, for example by opening diplomatic representations in Torshavn and Nuuk. We also have a comprehensive free trade agreement with the Faroe Islands and a cooperation agreement between Iceland and Greenland, and we are continuously developing our trilateral cooperation.</p> <p>Here in Scotland, the highly esteemed research institutions and universities immediately come to mind and closer cooperation in fields such as marine research, ocean affairs, fisheries management and the impacts of climate change on migrating fish stocks.</p> <p>Ladies and gentlemen, </p> <p>In the Arctic, as a result of climate change, we have a tendency to talk about prospective economic development, for example large-scale mining plans, new oil and gas exploration and alternative shipping routes as outside factors that will have a big economic impact on our region.</p> <p>However, if we look more closely, we see that the growth in the region is coming from existing industries and step-by-step innovation, for example, in my country, in the field of fisheries and fish processing, information technology, tourism, aviation, transport and logistics. These are traditional industries, which are increasing their productivity and value creation, through innovation and export.</p> <p>Tourism is, perhaps, the best example where demand for new and different destinations and experiences is driving an impressive year on year growth from Greenland to Norway. In Iceland, we foresee to welcome more than 2 million tourists this year, spurring an unprecedented growth.</p> <p>The Arctic has been a foreign policy priority for successive governments in Iceland in recent years, and will be a priority for the one that will soon take over. It is worth remembering that cooperation amongst Arctic states grew out of efforts to increase cooperation in the circumpolar region in the 1980s. And bear in mind that this is still during the Cold War. The founding document of the Arctic Council, which came a bit later in 1996, states that Arctic cooperation should focus on sustainable development and environmental protection.<br /> A lot has changed since 1996. However, the main principles still apply, and our responsibility remains to follow a sustainable path and protect the fragile environment and ecosystems in the Arctic. At the same time, we wish to make sure that we provide the inhabitants of the Arctic with opportunities to develop their economy in a sustainable way and shape their own future.</p> <p>The international community came together two years ago and agreed to the Paris agreement and Agenda 2030. Both these landmark agreements have an important bearing to the North and the Arctic and implementing their goals and objectives is our common responsibility. </p> <p>As we all know, the focus on the Arctic has increased and it attracts world-wide attention as the Arctic Circle assemblies amply demonstrate. The region is a laboratory of the impact that climate change has on the environment and what happens in the Arctic is relevant for the rest of the globe – from Thule to Tuvalu as the famous documentary outlines.</p> <p>Therefore, we see increased interest in the region. Scientists, researchers, businesses and industries are looking to the Arctic to see what the future might bring. In the Arctic Council we see more interest from observers; states, international organizations and non-governmental organizations alike, that want to take part in the discussion, contribute with their expertise and follow developments in the region.</p> <p>Iceland supports greater cooperation in the Arctic and will continue to do so. We see this increased interest as a good thing. It can bring more comprehensive cooperation in many fields and expand the dialogue on one of the most pressing challenge that we face as a global community, climate change. Everybody needs to be involved in this discussion.</p> <p>The Arctic states, communities and people in the region have a special responsibility and a special role to play. </p> <p>As Iceland prepares for its upcoming chairmanship in the Arctic Council in 2019-2021, maintaining and expanding the good cooperation with countries outside of the Arctic is more important than ever. We look forward to shape the agenda for the colorful Arctic during our chairmanship.</p> <p>Ladies and gentlemen, to conclude; </p> <p>Scotland and the New North is the underlying theme of this Arctic Circle Forum and a fitting one. The NewNorth is a dynamic and innovative region that attracts people and businesses. The New North is rich with opportunities, which are ours to seize, and the challenges we need to address in good cooperation. The North is no longer on the outskirts. It is central. These are all characteristics that apply to Scotland, which I see very much as part of the northern family.</p> <p>These are exciting times and a wise man once said that “the best way to predict the future is to create it”. The Arctic Circle and the beautiful Edinburgh provide the perfect setting for this small undertaking. <br /> <br /> I look forward to the discussions. Thank you.</p>
24. október 2017Blá ör til hægriÁvarp við kynningu á Nordic Innovation House<p >RÆÐA GUÐLAUGS ÞÓRS ÞÓRÐARSONAR UTANRÍKISRÁÐHERRA <br /> KYNNING Á NORDIC INNOVATION HOUSE <br /> NORRÆNA HÚSIÐ, 24. OKTÓBER 2017</p> <p><br /> Kæru gestir </p> <p>Það er mér heiður og sönn ánægja að bjóða ykkur öll velkomin á kynningu á starfsemi Norræna fyrirtækjasetursins – Nordic Innovation House – í New York. <br /> <br /> And before I continue in Icelandic let me welcome a very special guest, the Director of the Nordic Innovation House, Silve Parviainen.</p> <p>Kæru gestir <br /> <br /> Ég ætla að beina orðum mínum beint til ykkar sem hér eruð. Lífskjarasókn Íslendinga á komandi árum og áratugum mun byggjast á ykkar framlagi. Ef við ætlum að halda þeim lífskjörum sem við búum við í dag munum við þurfa að auka útflutningstekjur okkar um sem nemur 1000 milljörðum á næstu 20 árum. Það eru 50 milljarðar á ári eða um milljarður í hverri einustu viku.</p> <p>Náttúruauðlindir okkar munu ekki einar og sér standa undir þessum vexti. Ferðaþjónustan mun ekki heldur gera það. Vissulega eru sóknarfæri til staðar í þessum hefðbundnu greinum, ekki síst ef okkur tekst að samtvinna þær enn frekari nýsköpun og hugviti en það er hér á þessum vettvangi sem hinir raunverulegu vaxtarmöguleikarnir eru.</p> <p>Verðmætasköpunin þarf að verða til í nýsköpun og byggja á hugviti, hátækni, sköpunarkrafti og þróaðri framleiðslu. <br /> <br /> Þið eruð núna fjöregg þjóðarinnar. Hvernig okkur mun farnast á næstu tuttugu árum, hvort okkur tekst að halda Íslandi í fremstu röð, hvort okkur tekst að viðhalda lífskjörum sem gera það eftirsóknarvert að búa hér – allt þetta er undir því komið hvernig ykkur tekst til.</p> <p>Stjórnamálamenn skapa ekki verðmæti, þótt sumir þeirra tali á þann veg eða telji að verðmætasköpun í samfélaginu sé sjálfgefin. Ekkert af þessu er sjálfgefið og líklega veit það enginn betur en þeir sem vinna við nýsköpun. <br /> <br /> Þess vegna ættum við stjórnamálamenn í fyrsta lagi að einbeita okkur að því að leggja ekki stein í götu þeirra sem vinna að verðmætasköpun.</p> <p>Og að svo miklu leyti sem við getum þá verðum við að greiða götuna, opna dyr. <br /> Það gerum við með því að létta af álögum, með því að forgangsraða í menntakerfinu í þágu skapandi greina en ekki síst gerum við það með því að efla fríverslun.</p> <p>Fyrir útflutningsdrifið hagkerfi, þar sem útflutningsfyrirtækin eru jafnframt háð innflutningi á margvíslegum vörum, er fríverslun ekki bara kostur, heldur alger forsenda framfara. </p> <p>Hagasaga Íslands er skólabókardæmi um kosti fríverslunar. Í upphafi síðustu aldar vorum við eitt fátækasta ríki Vestur-Evrópu. En eftir að við fengum forræði yfir okkar utanríkisviðskiptum og aðgang að erlendum mörkuðum þá breyttist allt.</p> <p>Það er á þessum grunni sem við eigum að horfa á fram á veginn. Og það er á þessum grunni sem við höfum verið að endurskipuleggja utanríkisþjónustu Íslands á þeim stutta tíma sem ég hef gegnt embætti utanríkisráðherra. <br /> <br /> Í skýrslu starfshóps um framtíð utanríkisþjónustunnar sem út kom um daginn eru settar fram 150 tillögur um hvernig við - utanríkisþjónustan - getum bætt okkur.</p> <p>Rauður þráður í skýrslunni er að efla samstarf allra þeirra sem vinna að viðskiptasókn Íslands; Samtökum atvinnulífs, samtökum iðnaðar stjórnsýslunnar, Íslandsstofu og fleiri aðila. </p> <p>Við viljum efla Íslandsstofu þannig að hún geti enn betur veitt fyrirtækjunum þá þjónustu sem þau þurfa.</p> <p>Þessar tillögur voru unnar í nánu samstarfi við atvinnulífið og þannig eigum við að nálgast þetta. </p> <p>Utanríkisþjónustan getur opnað dyr ef rétt er á málum haldið. En það er þýðingarlaust ef enginn ætlar sér að ganga í gegnum þær dyr, það er þýðingarlaust ef stjórnvöld og atvinnulífið ganga ekki í takt.</p> <p>Og þá erum við komin að Nordic Innovation House. Með því að sameina krafta okkar á hinum stóra heimsmarkaði aukum við möguleika okkar allra. Norðurlöndin hafa ákveðna ímynd, ekki síst þegar kemur að hugviti og nýsköpun. Í þessu tilliti eigum við ekki í innbyrðis samkeppni út á við heldur eigum við sameiginlega hagsmuni. Það sem veitir einu norrænu fyrirtæki samkeppnisforskot veitir þeim öllum samkeppnisforskot.</p> <p>Ég bind miklar vonir við þetta samstarf og þá vinnu sem nú er hafin í Nordic Innovation House vestan hafs. Ég er fullviss um að við getum notað það sem fyrirmynd annars staðar, ekki síst á þeim mörkuðum sem nú vaxa hraðast í heiminum, í Suðaustur-Asíu, Indlandi og jafnvel í Afríku.</p> <p>Kæru gestir <br /> <br /> Ég vil lokin hvetja ykkur til dáða. Og sú hvatning er ekki bara hefðbundið klapp á bakið. Við Íslendingar eigum svo ótrúlega mikið undir því að ykkur takist vel til. <br /> <br /> Fyrir hönd íslensku þjóðarinnar vona ég svo sannarlega að starf ykkar verði farsælt. <br /> Takk fyrir.</p>
14. október 2017Blá ör til hægriRæða á Hringborði norðurslóða, "The Arctic: A New Territory of Business"<span> </span> <p><span style="font-size: 14pt;">Keynote Address, 14 Oct 2017</span><span style="font-size: 14pt;"><br /> </span><span style="font-size: 14pt;">The Arctic Circle Assembly</span></p> <p><strong><span style="font-size: 14pt;">&nbsp;</span></strong></p> <p><strong><span style="font-size: 14pt;">The Arctic: A New Territory of Business <br /> </span></strong><span style="font-size: 14pt;">by the Foreign Minister of Iceland, <br /> Mr. Guðlaugur Þór Þórðarson</span></p> <p><span style="font-size: 14pt;">&nbsp;</span></p> <p style="text-align: justify;"><span style="font-size: 14pt;">Former President of Iceland, Mr. Ólafur Ragnar Grímsson, excellencies, ladies and gentlemen. </span></p> <p style="text-align: justify;"><span style="font-size: 14pt;">It is an honour for me to be here today and address the Arctic Circle Assembly, which convenes here in Harpa in Reykjavik for the fifth time. </span></p> <p style="text-align: justify;"><span style="font-size: 14pt;">Allow me, at the outset, to pay tribute to former President of Iceland, Mr. Ólafur Ragnar Grímsson, for his tireless effort in raising awareness of the tremendous changes occurring in the Arctic.</span></p> <p style="text-align: justify;"><span style="font-size: 14pt;">The Arctic Circle Assembly has – indeed – become one of the most significant venues globally for deliberation on Arctic issues; a venue where around two thousand participants from roughly fifty countries come together, exchanging knowledge and experience, creating new contacts, and “exploring common solutions” to cite the main theme of Finland’s chairmanship of the Arctic Council.</span></p> <p style="text-align: justify;"><span style="font-size: 14pt;">The Arctic is opening up, both in a literal and a figurative sense, so it is highly appropriate to discuss the Arctic as a new territory of business. New opportunities and challenges are emerging in trade, transport, tourism, investment, fishing, mining, research, services and social development to name but a few.</span></p> <p style="text-align: justify;"><span style="font-size: 14pt;">But before elaborating more on the Arctic as a business venue, let me make a few general remarks on the developments in the High North.</span></p> <p style="text-align: justify;"><span style="font-size: 14pt;">In recent years, the Arctic region has become an even bigger focus point in the international arena, attracting attention from all over the world – as the participation here at Arctic Circle clearly demonstrates. More states, agencies and organisations have turned their attention to the Arctic, developing and adopting policies in the area from their own points of interest. </span></p> <p style="text-align: justify;"><span style="font-size: 14pt;">Most of the larger states in the northern hemisphere, in addition to the Arctic states themselves, have defined their interests and set out policies on Arctic issues. </span></p> <p style="text-align: justify;"><span style="font-size: 14pt;">Also, the ever-growing number of observers in the Arctic Council clearly demonstrates increased international interest in the region. </span></p> <p style="text-align: justify;"><span style="font-size: 14pt;">The cold Arctic has incontestably become one of the hottest spots on earth!</span></p> <p style="text-align: justify;"><span style="font-size: 14pt;">The icecap in the Arctic has been melting dramatically over the last decades. Climate change is the evident and main driver of that development. </span></p> <p style="text-align: justify;"><span style="font-size: 14pt;">In fact, the icecap is now only half the size it was 50 years ago, and these changes have been much more rapid than anticipated. </span></p> <p style="text-align: justify;"><span style="font-size: 14pt;">All around the world we witness the consequences of climate change, but its impact is particularly revealing and drastic in the Arctic. </span></p> <p style="text-align: justify;"><span style="font-size: 14pt;">Communities across the Arctic region are experiencing first-hand the challenges of dealing with a rapidly changing climate. </span></p> <p style="text-align: justify;"><span style="font-size: 14pt;">The consequences are far-reaching and they have global ramifications, for example for island nations in the Pacific Ocean, some of which are participating in the Arctic Circle this week-end.</span></p> <p style="text-align: justify;"><span style="font-size: 14pt;">For the people who call the Arctic their home, adaptation and resilience are key factors in dealing with these consequences. </span></p> <p style="text-align: justify;"><span style="font-size: 14pt;">All humans strive to improve their living conditions and the best way to do that is by trading and cooperating. To that end, it seems appropriate to regard the Circumpolar region as a new territory of business.</span></p> <p style="text-align: justify;"><span style="font-size: 14pt;">As a result of these developments in the Arctic, resources are becoming more accessible than ever and that can easily lead to a “scramble” for those resources and business opportunities. Such a development could also cause more tension and instability in the region. </span></p> <p style="text-align: justify;"><span style="font-size: 14pt;">It is therefore of utmost importance that we tread responsibly the path forward, bearing in mind that <em>we do not inherit the earth from our ancestors; we borrow it from our children. </em></span></p> <p style="text-align: justify;"><span style="font-size: 14pt;">And it is – ladies and gentlemen – very urgent that we manage this process, show leadership and take measures to secure a peaceful and sustainable development of the Arctic. This is an issue where patience is not a virtue!</span></p> <p style="text-align: justify;"><span style="font-size: 14pt;">&nbsp;</span></p> <p style="text-align: justify;"><span style="font-size: 14pt;">It is Iceland’s firm believe that the sustainable development of the Arctic region requires an extensive and broad cooperation within the Arctic Council and beyond. </span></p> <p style="text-align: justify;"><span style="font-size: 14pt;">International collaboration over the next 15 years will have to take account of the implementation of the Paris Agreement, as well as the UN Agenda 2030 and the new Sustainable Development Goals.</span></p> <p style="text-align: justify;"><span style="font-size: 14pt;">Economic activities in the Arctic must not only be sustainable and considerate to the vulnerable ecosystem, they should also benefit the local populations, with improved infrastructure, health care, school system, communications and other aspects of modern society. </span></p> <p style="text-align: justify;"><span style="font-size: 14pt;">&nbsp;</span></p> <p style="text-align: justify;"><span style="font-size: 14pt;">Ladies and gentlemen.</span></p> <p style="text-align: justify;"><span style="font-size: 14pt;">It is against this background and in this setting, which I have now described, that the Arctic is truly transforming into a new territory of business. </span></p> <p style="text-align: justify;"><span style="font-size: 14pt;">We have all heard the phrase that “what happens in the Arctic does not stay in the Arctic”. Reversely, we can also say that what happens outside the Arctic will have an impact on the conditions of the Arctic. </span></p> <p style="text-align: justify;"><span style="font-size: 14pt;">In other words, the Arctic is interlinked with other regions in the world. We are immensely dependent on close collaboration across boundaries, because the Arctic has moved from being an isolated wilderness to becoming central to our future. </span></p> <p style="text-align: justify;"><span style="font-size: 14pt;">Let’s not forget that we live in a world of opportunities where business cooperation and trade relations can thrive and flourish. The future is really in our hands.</span></p> <p style="text-align: justify;"><span style="font-size: 14pt;">As the polar icecap recedes and new sea routes open up, distances between Asia and Europe are cut considerably. </span></p> <p style="text-align: justify;"><span style="font-size: 14pt;">For example, the distance from Northern Europe to China is approximately 40% shorter than via the Suez Canal and 60% shorter than via the Cape of Good Hope – saving time, money and energy – and benefitting the environment.</span></p> <p style="text-align: justify;"><span style="font-size: 14pt;">And yesterday, here at the Arctic Circle, some staggering figures were presented to us. Last year, some 7,6 million tonnes were transported along the North-Eastern Sea Route. </span></p> <p style="text-align: justify;"><span style="font-size: 14pt;">In 2025, the volume is expected to be 35 million tonnes. Also, alternative transportation routes become ever more important as global patterns change and the economic power houses of East Asia continue to increase their footprint in world affairs.</span></p> <p style="text-align: justify;"><span style="font-size: 14pt;">Let us also bear in mind that the Arctic region itself inhabits&nbsp;&nbsp; over 4 million people and, with an annual economy of USD 230 billion, the Arctic region holds significant opportunities for economic growth, science, and innovation. </span></p> <p style="text-align: justify;"><span style="font-size: 14pt;">It has the potential to ease the world’s growing need for energy, as well as hosting vast deposits of mineral resources and fish.</span></p> <p style="text-align: justify;"><span style="font-size: 14pt;">On the latter, the ongoing negotiations on the high seas fisheries in the Central Arctic Ocean are landmark negotiations. Never before have negotiations on fisheries taken place before the fish was actually there.</span></p> <p style="text-align: justify;"><span style="font-size: 14pt;">This is a prime example of how to manage a process and, pending final and successful conclusion, we can be very proud of it. </span></p> <p style="text-align: justify;"><span style="font-size: 14pt;">However, and we all know this, the region is also faced with several critical deficiencies, for example when it comes to the development of infrastructure projects, logistical hubs and Arctic capable assets and services.</span></p> <p style="text-align: justify;"><span style="font-size: 14pt;">Moreover, the region remains vastly underserved by transportation, port and other vital infrastructure. With increased transport, including passenger cruise ships, the likelihood of an accident or shipwreck becomes greater. </span></p> <p style="text-align: justify;"><span style="font-size: 14pt;">The Arctic Council binding agreement on search and rescue cooperation in the region is very important, but unfortunately, we still lack sufficient equipment and safety infrastructure. </span></p> <p style="text-align: justify;"><span style="font-size: 14pt;">Here, we urgently need to improve our resources and my government has been looking into ideas and possibilities of establishing a search and rescue cluster in Iceland – making use of our strategic location, valuable expertise and good infrastructures.</span></p> <p style="text-align: justify;"><span style="font-size: 14pt;">So, yes, there are challenges, but there also enormous opportunities, which we need to seize and exploit in a sustainable manner.</span></p> <p style="text-align: justify;"><span style="font-size: 14pt;">In this regard, I would like to commend the Arctic Council for instigating the establishment of the Arctic Economic Council back in 2014. </span></p> <p style="text-align: justify;"><span style="font-size: 14pt;">The Arctic Economic Council is an independent organisation that facilitates Arctic business-to-business activities and responsible economic development through the sharing of best practices, technological solutions, standards, and other information. </span></p> <p style="text-align: justify;"><span style="font-size: 14pt;">It is a useful network instrument, which comprises a wide range of businesses operating in the Arctic – from mining and shipping companies, tourism and transport to reindeer herding and indigenous economic development corporations.</span></p> <p style="text-align: justify;"><span style="font-size: 14pt;">The vision of the Arctic Economic Council is to make the Arctic a favourable place to do business. Its mission is to facilitate sustainable Arctic economic and business development. </span></p> <p style="text-align: justify;"><span style="font-size: 14pt;">The Arctic Economic Council also provides a business perspective to the discussions taking place at the Arctic Council, serving as a link between Arctic governments and the wider circumpolar business community. </span></p> <p style="text-align: justify;"><span style="font-size: 14pt;">The Icelandic-Arctic Chamber of Commerce participates actively in the Arctic Economic Council and serves as this link. We very much value its important contribution and look forward to further strengthening our collaboration with the business sector.</span></p> <p style="text-align: justify;"><span style="font-size: 14pt;">For further economic growth and overall development to occur, both public and private actors must work together to boost investment on necessary projects, and for many reasons, large industrial projects must often be “trans-border”, involving several Arctic states and even consumer countries. </span></p> <p style="text-align: justify;"><span style="font-size: 14pt;">Fortunately, this is exactly what we see happening in the Arctic region today. Arctic states, non-Arctic states and other actors alike are deeply engaged in industrial and infrastructure development on a scale never seen, in close cooperation with local and regional authorities and enterprises. </span></p> <p style="text-align: justify;"><span style="font-size: 14pt;">The latter is of utmost importance, to ensure that the local communities will benefit from increased economic activities on their home turf.</span></p> <p style="text-align: justify;"><span style="font-size: 14pt;">As an example, in this regard, I would point at the excellent and longstanding cooperation between the Icelandic transportation company Eimskip with the State of Maine in the United States, and a more recent agreement that connects Greenland into Eimskip’s international sailing system. </span></p> <p style="text-align: justify;"><span style="font-size: 14pt;">Other companies and enterprises across Iceland are also expanding their international cooperation in many other branches of industry. We see the same trend in other Arctic states.</span></p> <p style="text-align: justify;"><span style="font-size: 14pt;">Ladies and gentlemen.</span></p> <p style="text-align: justify;"><span style="font-size: 14pt;">I began my address by referring to the challenges we are faced with in the Arctic as a result of climate change. Let me conclude by connecting these challenges and the opportunities I have been discussing.</span></p> <p style="text-align: justify;"><span style="font-size: 14pt;">With the huge economic potentials that the Arctic possesses, comes a great responsibility in preserving the environment, and undertaking safe and sustainable development in ways that benefit businesses, local communities and the environment. </span></p> <p style="text-align: justify;"><span style="font-size: 14pt;">Exploring and expanding current boundaries to commercial activities in the Arctic requires a thoughtful and cautious approach based on sound scientific, industrial and hard-won practical knowledge. But I reiterate that we are in a hurry, the future will not wait.</span></p> <p style="text-align: justify;"><span style="font-size: 14pt;">If we succeed in finding the golden middle road, I am confident that the future is bright for the Arctic, its nature, its business, and its people.</span></p> <p style="text-align: justify;"><span style="font-size: 14pt;">The Arctic is warming up for business but we still must keep a cool head. </span></p> <p style="text-align: justify;"><span style="font-size: 14pt;">&nbsp;</span></p> <p style="text-align: justify;"><strong><span style="font-size: 14pt;">Thank you for your attention.</span></strong></p>
12. október 2017Blá ör til hægriRæða utanríkisráðherra á rakarastofuráðstefnu á vegum Norrænu ráðherranefndarinnar Kaupmannahöfn<p>Ræða Guðlaugs Þórs Þórðarsonar utanríkisráðherra<br /> á rakarastofuráðstefnu á vegum Norrænu ráðherranefndarinnar<br /> Kaupmannahöfn, 12. október 2017<br /> <br /> Excellencies, Ladies and Gentlemen,<br /> It is a pleasure to welcome you here today to the Barbershop conference, held under the auspices of the Nordic Council of Ministers. I would like to thank the Nordic team and UN Women here in Copenhagen for the excellent cooperation we have enjoyed in the run up to the conference, as well as the remarkable group of academics and speakers from the public and private sector who agreed to join us today.</p> <p>At the current rate, gender equality will not be reached until the year 2133. Something has to change. With men largely missing from the debate on equality, we are playing with only half the team. I am a fan of football and we know, to win the game, we need everyone to pitch in.</p> <p>I am optimistic. Most men agree that gender equality is a no-brainer - discrimination against women should not exist in the year 2017 and we should all be free to be who we want to be. We know that empowering women is the right thing to do. We also understand that it is the smart thing to do – in every aspect. Hence, we only need a little nudge to translate our sympathy for the cause into action.</p> <p>This is what the Barbershop is all about. It’s a training camp of sorts, designed to equip men with the tools they need to take on an active role in achieving equality.</p> <p>In our discussions here today, we will shed a light on our unconscious biases and get an insight into the day-to-day experiences of men and women that sometimes reflect persistent and rather old-fashioned social norms. Understanding ourselves and our peers is the first step - making a commitment to change something in our own behavior and lending our voices to equality is the next one.</p> <p>The Nordics lead the way globally when it comes to gender equality. We know first-hand how the increased respect for women‘s human rights and their active participation in the labor force has contributed to our well-being. We are still determined to continue to make progress, but our ultimate goal is not to continue leading - our ultimate goal is for all countries to achieve gender equality.</p> <p>Today, we have gathered Nordic leaders, policy makers and representatives from trade unions, business associations and private companies, for a dialogue on how we achieve this. Too often these two sectors, the public and the private, are kept separate. But gender equality concerns us all and our goal today is to share best-practices, learn from each other and be inspired by those that are leading by example.</p> <p>We will focus on equality in the home and at work, two sides of the same coin. Sharing the work at home allows men and women the opportunity to perform equally well in the workplace – and reap equal pay for work of equal value. It also allows us men to enjoy more time with our families and take equal responsibility for our children’s upbringing and well-being.</p> <p>Our goal here today is not to solely discuss the importance of gender equality – we agree on that. Instead, our focus will be on the how - how do we tailor our policies so they advance gender equality and how do we go from good policies to good practice.</p> <p>Our speakers today will share their stories, but we will also put the spotlight on you, the audience, in the hope that today influences long-term change.</p> <p>I am pleased to see that so many men have decided to join us for a discussion on how to achieve gender equality.</p> <p>I wish you a fruitful discussion and a sharp Barbershop. </p> <p>Thank you. </p> <br />
10. október 2017Blá ör til hægriÁvarp á friðarráðstefununni Imagine Forum: Looking Over the Horizon<p>IMAGINE FORUM: LOOKING OVER THE HORIZON<br /> RÆÐA GUÐLAUGS ÞÓRS ÞÓRÐARSONAR UTANRÍKISRÁÐHERRA<br /> 10. OKTÓBER 2017<br /> <br /> President of Iceland,</p> <p>Dignitaries,</p> <p>Ladies and Gentlemen,</p> <p><br /> It is an honour to be invited to address you here today; to discuss Youth, Peace and Security. Although I may see myself as the same young person as I was when I graduated from this very University some years back, I do realise I no longer possess the authority to speak on behalf of youth.</p> <p>But I speak on behalf of a small democracy, some would say a young democracy. A country that possesses the energy and driving force of youth, which in my mind makes it as an agent of change and an agent for change.<br /> No matter how small or how large, we all bear the same responsibilities. To drive and to push for our full potential. We are judged by our actions and by the same token, our in-actions speak volumes.</p> <p>Iceland, in spite of its size, has a platform and a voice. I see us as an agent for change, using our voice and our platform to share our experience and future goals, for others to learn from and to contribute to strengthening the resolve to build a better world.</p> <p>This is what I want to touch upon today. And by doing so, I want to focus on three distinct areas: 1) Peace, 2) human rights and gender equality and lastly, 3) economic freedom.</p> <p>First, let me discuss briefly peace, stability and universal respect for one another. Peace is a multi-layered fabric. It is rich in colour, and it is only as strong as the efforts that are put into weaving it. If we want this fabric to last in the turbulent winds of world politics, it needs broad ownership from various segments of society; academia, civil society, media and not least citizens, no matter what their opinions or way of life may be.</p> <p>In a world of constant struggle between different interests, a world where inequality and conflict is a sad fact of too many lives, it is essential that we don’t lose sight of the values which we have built our societies on; respect for diversity, human rights and individual freedoms, representing charity, harmony and reverence.</p> <p>Good governance requires sound laws based on, and protecting human rights. Rights without the machinery to enforce them have very little value. Laws that are not grounded in human rights will never, in the long run, enjoy the support of the people. Laws divorced from human rights are more likely to foster injustice and derailing societies from within. Poor governance threatens peace and security within a country and it destabilizes whole regions.</p> <p>So, while we bear a responsibility to our own people to govern well, we also bear a responsibility to the global community. Each nation is sovereign indeed – but none of us is isolated from the world and world events.</p> <p>I think all of us agree on that inclusion is key in this respect. But this begs the question: how do we assure that international efforts to build peace are both meaningful and lasting? This is a complex question and there are no short answers.</p> <p>This leads me to my next point. To build lasting peace and stability we need to guarantee respect for basic human rights and more specifically, I want to specifically mention the need to ensure gender equality. This is an area where Iceland can contribute greatly to the world.</p> <p>Iceland has been lucky enough to be free of conflicts. That, however, does not mean we do not have a role to play in advancing peace and common prosperity. We do that, in part, by remaining a voice for gender equality and empowerment of women and girls.</p> <p>The challenge is not only to maintain the strong emphasis that we and our Nordic friends place on gender, but rather to push for new and innovative ways to support and further advance the work that is already under way.</p> <p>Equality is an essential part of sustainable development, clean economic growth, social justice, sustainable peace and security. Only through equality can a society, in general, be deemed successful.</p> <p>This brings me to my third and final point. To realise the full potential of both individuals and societies at large, we need freedom – Freedom to act and freedom to grow.</p> <p>Only a century ago, Iceland was the poorest nation of Europe. Today, we are among the wealthiest and most forward-looking nations on the planet. The key to this success is very simple: Trade. Nature has given us riches and we have been fortunate enough to be able to trade in a free and fair way and taken care not to upset our delicate balance with nature.</p> <p>This brings me back to my initial points. If the very essence of freedom is questioned by those who make up the complex fabric of societies it will only hit them back with a cold storm. And it will hit those in our societies that need growth and prosperity the most.</p> <p>And let’s keep in mind, that free trade is not only the exchange of goods or services for money for the benefit of both parties. </p> <p>Free trade is forming relationships, free trade is people interacting, travelling, understanding each other, regardless of race or religion. </p> <p>Free trade is therefore one of the most powerful tool to establish and maintaining peace.</p> <p>Dear guests <br /> <br /> Iceland, with its platform and its voice will continue to champion freedom. </p> <p>These are the values that make our communities sought after and a model, they are the fabric of a better, safer world. </p> <p>I hope our discussions here today will only strengthen our resolve to honour these values. <br /> <br /> Thank you.</p>
09. október 2017Blá ör til hægriÁvarp á Charge ráðstefnu um endurnýjanlega orkugjafa<p>CHARGE - ENERGY BRANDING CONFERENCE</p> <p>Guðlaugur Þór Guðlaugsson, Minister for Foreign Affairs<br /> Cities and Countries as Energy Brands<br /> <br /> Energy! Has anyone forgotten Eyja-fjalla-jökull? The infamous Icelandic volcano, with that difficult name, which shut down the whole world for a few days back in 2010. It branded itself in our memories and raised the awareness of Iceland in the world beyond anything we Icelanders could have done ourselves. <br /> <br /> The erruption served to remind us of how deeply integrated the world has become as the disruption of transportation across the Atlantic affected companies and individuals all over the globe. It also served to remind us of how fragile our human constructions are compared to nature. This is something that we live with every day in Iceland. Fear of uncontrolable consequences of climate change are now driving people all over the world to essentially the the same conclusions: We have to find ways of making our energy systems sustainable-renewable, and we have to find ways to do it together.<br /> <br /> Although Icelanders have always faced difficulties living so close to a wild and unpredictable nature, this is also our greatest blessing and the foundation of our modern economy. We have an abundance of clean and sustainable energy sources. We have unpoluted fishing grounds all around us. And our country has become a popular tourist destination. <br /> <br /> Iceland as well as many of our cities, industries and businesses built their branding work on the positive image associated with green energy, exotic nature, renewable fisheries, creative energy and female energy if you like, mostly referred to as gender equality. But it is not only about building a brand. It is also about real work, making a difference in the world. Our engineers and academics have been sharing practical knowledge and methods in the field of geothermal energy with our partners all over the world for a very long time and I encourage you to take a closer look at this particular sector. <br /> <br /> Tourism is our fastest growing industry in Iceland today. It is a huge challenge for us to cope with what is essentially an unbelievable success story but these are problems of privilege that we are thankful for. According to opinion pools we did last year in the US, 2 out of 3 consumers say that Iceland´s renewable energy increases their interest in Iceland as a tourist destination. Be it our volcanos, hot springs, our warm natural geothermal swimming pools, all this has created a huge opportunity for Iceland to show itself to the world. It tells us that strategic branding of our energy resources and utilization is highly important to our prospects. <br /> <br /> Reykjavík, our beautiful capital, which I hope you have been able to explore a bit, promotes itself through pure energy and a green footprint philosophy, but 80% of our total energy use comes from renewable energy resources. This even brought the prestigious Environmental and Nature Awards of the Nordic Council to Reykjavik in 2015.<br /> <br /> Dear conference guests and panelists. <br /> <br /> I look forward to a good and fruitful discussion today and remind you that you can also find creative energy pouring out of Iceland and Reykjavík. The creative brand is one of our most precious ones today. I encourage you to feel the energy, experience the power and enjoy local music, art and design during your stay in Iceland and here in Reykjavík. We have a lot to offer. <br /> <br /> Where ever you look – Iceland is full of energy. <br /> <br /> </p>
22. september 2017Blá ör til hægriÁvarp á allsherjarþingi Sameinuðu þjóðanna <p style="text-align: left;"><br /> The Permanent Mission of Iceland<br /> to the United Nations<br /> <br /> <br /> <br /> 72 United Nations General Assembly<br /> <br /> <br /> <br /> Statement by Iceland <br /> Gudlaugur Thor Thordarsson<br /> Minister of Foreign Affairs of Iceland<br /> 22 September, 2017<br /> <br /> <br /> <br /> <br /> <br /> <br /> CHECK AGAINST DELIVERY <br /> <br /> <br /> <br /> Mr. President,<br /> <br /> We live in a world of opportunity: Never have we had such potential to end poverty and hunger, to end human rights violation, to focus on the people striving for a decent life. We can either succeed or we can fail. It is a choice, it is a decision. This is our responsibility, this is our task. This task is not just about numbers or statistics, this task is about real-life people. “There is purpose and worth to each and every life.” Let us not forget.<br /> <br /> Our task is not easy. But the most important things in life are never easy, the right path is always difficult. And for sure, we face difficulties. The consequences of climate change, bad governance, terrorism and conflict have made our world seem “more dangerous, less predictable, more chaotic” as our Secretary General put it. It is our common responsibility to protect the progress we have made since the establishment of this institution and make good on our promises of prosperity for all. <br /> <br /> Mr. President, <br /> <br /> The world’s economic and social progress has in large part been driven by science and rational action, based on evidence. We must hold firm to this approach: only policy grounded in facts and evidence, can help us deal with common threats like climate change and to create a world that truly reflects our values.<br /> <br /> The Paris Climate Agreement and Agenda 2030 provide the blueprints for our success. Now we must deliver. Droughts, sea-level rise, ocean acidification and other consequences of climate change have wide-ranging implications for all our communities. Climate change is nowhere as visible as in the Arctic with far-reaching consequences in the other parts of the world. The melting of the polar ice in the north causes higher sea levels in the south. What happens in the Arctic does not stay in the Arctic.<br /> <br /> In fulfilling our Paris Agreement obligations, collectively with other European countries, we aim to reduce emissions by 40% by 2030, compared to 1990. Iceland remains committed to this end. <br /> <br /> Mr. President,<br /> <br /> Since the establishment of this institution, a rule-based international order has been the foundation for peace and prosperity. The assault on the rule of law by certain governments undermines the stability of the international system. <br /> <br /> We condemn in the strongest terms the illegal actions of North Korean leaders and call on them to accept generous offers to return to the negotiating table. During the past weeks, we have at last seen a united Security Council act firmly but constructively; to push for dialogue and confidence-building measures while staying firm on strengthening sanctions in the face of continued provocation. <br /> <br /> The use of chemical weapons by the Syrian Government against its own people was a blatant violation of international and humanitarian laws and demanded a firm response by the international community. <br /> <br /> Complex internal conflicts have led to displacement and suffering on a massive scale, with famine looming in many areas, including Yemen. The issue of Western Sahara remains unresolved with tensions rising. The disregard for the sovereignty and territorial integrity of Ukraine is another serious assault on the international rule-based order.<br /> <br /> The Security Council bears primary responsibility for maintaining international peace and security. Along with several other countries, Iceland has encouraged the Security Council to include long-term perspectives in its mission mandates to lay the foundations for lasting peace.<br /> <br /> Mr. President, <br /> <br /> The modern era has also seen the rise of non-state actors – something our system did not plan for. Terrorists have sought to undermine trust and tolerance within and between our communities. Alongside improvements of the UN anti-terrorism mechanism, we must identify the drivers of violent extremism and terrorism. At the heart of conflict and violent extremism lies a failure of development. This is where Agenda 2030 must play a vital role.<br /> <br /> Agenda 2030 is, indeed, a remarkable achievement. It is grounded in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights as human rights, peace and development are inseparable and essential to successful implementation of the Agenda. I take very seriously the Secretary-General’s warning that “Disregard for human rights is a disease, and it is a disease that is spreading – north, south, east and west.”<br /> <br /> The violation of freedom of expression, of rights to free assembly, of the fundamental rights of women - all undermine Agenda 2030. Extra-judicial killings, repression of minorities and the denial of the right to legitimate opposition set back sustainable development, sometimes by generations. Here I would like to express deep concern at the completely unacceptable situation of the Rohingya population in Myanmar.<br /> <br /> Iceland knows first-hand the massive potential resting in gender equality. With UN Women as a key partner, Iceland is a dedicated proponent of women’s human rights. We actively work to engage men in the fight for gender equality and, indeed, our Prime Minister is a HeForShe IMPACT Champion. We support UNFPA and the She Decides initiative for sexual and reproductive health and rights, and continue to promote women’s participation in the peace and security agenda. <br /> <br /> I commend the Secretary-General for his commitment to gender equality within the UN and his determination in addressing the issue of sexual exploitation and abuse by peacekeepers and UN staff – a betrayal of the civilians under their care, and of the values of the UN. <br /> <br /> Mr. President,<br /> <br /> In the beginning of the 20th century, Iceland was one the poorest countries in western Europe. Now, we are one of the richest. Why? The answer to that question is the key for our approach to task at hand, to deliver for the people of this world who are striving for a decent life, to make sure that everyone can benefit from this world of ours, the world of opportunities.<br /> <br /> <br /> <br /> Iceland’s path from rags to riches is a text book example of the power of free trade. We gained access to large foreign markets where we could sell our products and by doing so we changed our fortune. Every year we gather here in the capital of free trade and talk about the importance of ending poverty in the world. We can talk the talk, but can we really walk the walk?<br /> <br /> We can really do something about this. We can open our markets. We can let the poorer countries trade freely with our consumers. Let’s trade.<br /> <br /> And let’s keep in mind, that free trade is not only the exchange of goods or services for money. Free trade is forming relationships, free trade is people interacting, travelling, understanding each other, regardless of colour or religion. Free trade is the most powerful tool to establish and maintaining peace.<br /> <br /> Mr. President,<br /> <br /> While the markets of richest countries in the world remain closed to the poorest countries, it is truly our obligation to provide development assistance. A large share of Iceland’s bilateral assistance goes to the Least Developed countries, mainly in sub-Saharan Africa. <br /> <br /> We focus on our areas of expertise, such as energy and fisheries, while at the same time ensuring a horizontal emphasis on human rights and gender equality. To share our knowledge and experience, Iceland hosts UNU programs on fisheries management, geothermal energy and land restoration, in addition to its UNU gender program.<br /> <br /> Through projects and partnerships with IRENA, SE4ALL and the World Bank, Iceland works actively to increase the utilization of sustainable geothermal energy and we support the work of the UNCCD and FAO to increase food security and mitigate climate change through land restoration. <br /> <br /> Continuing a tradition of leadership in oceans affairs, Iceland actively contributed to the UN Oceans Conference earlier this year. Our many commitments include reducing marine litter and plastics in the ocean – an issue on which governments, businesses and individuals must cooperate. Allow me to welcome the Secretary-General’s appointment of Mr. Peter Thomson as his special envoy for the ocean. We look forward to working with Mr. Thomson. <br /> <br /> Unlocking the transformative potential of people and the private sector is key to success. In financing for development, we must be clear that development cooperation, while vital, is only a small part of what is needed. Good governance, strong institutions, human rights and equal opportunity are essential to inclusive economic progress, which eventually depends on the political will of leaders. Creating an environment where doing business is easy and investment makes sense is key to growth.<br /> <br /> Iceland believes strongly in the potential of globalization and international trade as an engine for economic growth and poverty reduction. We must continue to promote a universal, rules-based, fair, multilateral trading system under the World Trade Organization (WTO). At the same time, we must be aware of measures necessary to enable the Least Developed Countries to participate on fair terms. If we are to achieve the SDGs, this is not the time to erect trade barriers. <br /> <br /> <br /> Mr. President,<br /> <br /> The dire situation of the sixty-five million people driven from their homes by conflict, economic hardship and climate change urgently requires a solution. How we, as an international community address migration will define us for future generations. The forthcoming process towards Global Compacts for Refugees and for Safe, Orderly and Regular Migration will give us the opportunity to establish new and comprehensive approaches to this challenge of our age. <br /> <br /> These approaches must be grounded in humanitarian law and respect for the human rights and fundamental freedoms of all migrants, especially children. As host communities, we should not forget the positive contribution migrants can make to growth and sustainable development. <br /> <br /> Iceland has received an ever-increasing number of refugees via UNHCR in addition to providing generous assistance to UN Agencies working in the neighbouring countries of Syria. We will continue to do our part. <br /> <br /> Mr. President,<br /> <br /> Our forefathers, scarred by the catastrophe of world war and economic depression, had the foresight to set up the United Nations and the Bretton Woods Institutions. <br /> <br /> Just as this great building was renovated so successfully a few years ago, so too must the UN be renovated and made fit for purpose in the modern era. We strongly support the work of the Secretary-General in management reform, development reform, and his sustaining peace agenda. <br /> <br /> Thank you, Mr. President.<br /> <br /> <br /> </p>
13. september 2017Blá ör til hægriÁvarp á World Seafood Congress - Heimsmarkmið 14Address <br /> by H.E. Mr. Guðlaugur Þór Þórðarson, Minister for Foreign Affairs of Iceland at the Side-Event on the New Momentum for the Oceans Sustainable Development Goal 14 on the Oceans <br /> at the World Seafood Congress, 12 September 2017<br /> <br /> <br /> Ladies and Gentlemen. <br /> It is a great pleasure for Iceland to host the World Seafood Congress. I hope you have found the Congress interesting and fruitful and that you are enjoying your stay.<br /> I firmly believe that we have a New Momentum for the Oceans, especially provided by the Sustainable Development Goal 14 which calls for the conservation and sustainable use of the oceans, seas and marine resources for sustainable development. This goal, along with its targets, is an integral part of the most comprehensive effort the global community has launched in order to safeguard the future of humankind, - namely Agenda 2030. I am determined to make Icelandic foreign policy an effective instrument in successfully reaching our goals. <br /> One of the greatest challenge in our efforts is climate change. Recent news on extreme weather patterns in the Caribbean and in the United States is just one example of the disastrous consequences. It is therefore important to ensure, that fulfilling our commitments under the Paris Agreement are closely interwoven into our ocean policies. It is indeed a recognition of the significance of the oceans in the context of climate change that the Paris Agreement - highlights the importance of ensuring the integrity of all ecosystems, including oceans and the need to combat acidification and pollutants affecting the marine ecosystems. This is in line with Iceland’s interests in addressing the adverse effects of climate change which lie primarily in the impact they have on the sea and the marine ecosystem, worldwide. <br /> I have emphasized that the sustainable conservation and use of natural resources, especially the living resources of the oceans, is one of the key focus of Iceland´s foreign policy. It is fundamental to maintain balance between sustainable utilisation and the protection of marine resources, based on the best available scientific knowledge. The United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea and the rights and responsibilities that it sets for coastal states, confirms this approach, including within the exclusive economic zone and on the continental shelf. <br /> This approach was highlighted in my Annual Report to the Parliament last spring and then reiterated two weeks ago in the new comprehensive report on the future of the Foreign Service. The aim of the report is to increase the effectiveness of the foreign service even more, and even though this is not a policy document in itself it confirms a strong emphasis on natural resources and the Arctic Region - not least the Arctic Ocean, and the considerable environmental, economic and social changes taking place there. <br /> To become more effective in this field it is recommended in the report that we should consult and harmonise representation and policy-making on a domestic level concerning global climate change, natural resources, Arctic affairs and matters relating to the sea, and for those affairs to be systemised more fully under the leadership of the Ministry for Foreign Affairs. Thereafter, the arrangements for participation in international work in these areas should be reviewed.<br /> This also applies to Iceland´s participation in international organizations on ocean affairs, including regional cooperation, the World Bank, UNU and the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations.<br /> <br /> Ladies and gentlemen,<br /> As a part of Agenda 2030, the global community has committed itself to end hunger. The oceans, with their important living marine resources, are fundamental for the food security of millions, not least in the developing world. Without clean, healthy and productive oceans, this goal will be impossible to attain. Science-based sustainable harvesting of marine resources must become a universal practice and is key to our aims of fighting poverty and hunger, ensuring healthy lives and promoting sustained, inclusive and sustainable economic growth. <br /> The international community gave a great boost to the new momentum for the oceans at the Conference on the Oceans in New York last June, resulting in a 14-point Call to Action and more than 1300 voluntary commitments to support SDG 14. Iceland made four main voluntary commitments: <br /> Firstly, the adoption of fisheries management plans with long term precautionary Harvest Control Rules for commercially harvested fish stocks in Icelandic waters, based on the FAO Code of Conduct and the UN Fish Stocks Agreement. <br /> Secondly, an ambitious 13-year project by the Marine Research Institute on the mapping of the ocean floor for conservation and sustainable use.<br /> Thirdly, addressing acidification of the oceans in line with the Government´s new climate action plan, aimed at ensuring that Iceland can meet its commitments under the Paris Agreement. Iceland contributes to the Green Climate Fund and has pledged 1 million USD over a five-year period.<br /> Fourthly, a three-year plan with focus on the prevention of marine litter entering the ocean from land-based and sea-based sources. To this end we will work to enhance knowledge of microplastics and their effects on the marine environment and humans, and identify measures to reduce discharge to the marine environment.<br /> Ladies and gentlemen,<br /> Despite many recent achievements, there are enormous challenges ahead. Not least in the Arctic Region. Glaciers are retreating, sea-level is rising, and acidification of the ocean increasing, posing serious threat to the ecosystem and coastal communities. <br /> We know that changes in the Arctic will have wide-ranging global consequences. Iceland is therefore increasing its focus on Arctic matters even more and Iceland´s upcoming Chairmanship of the Arctic Council 2019 – 2021 will feature the ocean high on the agenda. <br /> This is underlined in the report on the future of the Foreign Service which calls for a strategy to be prepared on this issue, with the aim of increasing Iceland's visibility and importance in matters relating to climate change, Arctic affairs, and issues related to the sea.<br /> The sustainable use of living marine resources and aquaculture plays a vital role for sustainable development. The potential economic benefits are high, and the importance of fish to employment, food security, nutrition and income is enormous. In Iceland´s international development cooperation, the sustainable use of natural resources, including fisheries, is a key focus area. We have supported the World Bank in this initiative as the World Bank is well placed to support transformative change in the fisheries and aquaculture sectors in developing countries. Iceland has extensive knowledge and experience in this field and therefore we also find it important to work with the private sector. Furthermore, we are very proud to host the United Nations University Fisheries Training Programme, which has provided training to nearly 400 specialists from various countries. <br /> <br /> Gender equality is a core objective in Iceland´s development policy. When looking at the seafood industry as a whole, women represent half of the total working population worldwide. Women are essential contributors to this important food supplying industry and therefore critical agents for change. At the same, time their role and work is often invisible and not fully acknowledged. They are poorly represented in decision making processes and leadership roles in the fisheries sector. Women's activities, paid and unpaid, include the full range along the value chain, as well as pre- and post-harvest activities. Women in small-scale fisheries also play key roles in managing finances at the household level and managing marine resources at the community level. It is hence vital that we address this issue in all our programming in the field of fisheries, and that we recognize women´s role throughout the value-chain.<br /> Ladies and Gentlemen,<br /> Coming to the agenda of this Conference, I would like to use this opportunity to express my appreciation of the active engagement of FAO in the World Seafood Congress this week. Tomorrow we bring together, along with other partners, a High-level Meeting with Ministers and Directors for fisheries and maritime matters from Africa, Asia and Latin America, as well as from some neighbouring countries. We look forward to interesting discussion on Promoting the Blue Economy and Exploiting Ocean Opportunities.<br /> FAO has for many years been one of Iceland´s key partner in matters of the oceans. We are thankful for the leadership they have shown for example through its Blue Growth Initiative, Committee on Fisheries, FAO Port State Measures Agreement, Regional Fisheries Management Bodies and through other forums. Iceland has and will always be an active partner in this field.<br /> The World Seafood Congress has provided us with an excellent forum for an exchange of view and to sharpen our focus. I will now leave you in the hands of this distinguished panel. <br /> Thank you for your attention, and I wish you a constructive discussion.
01. september 2017Blá ör til hægriRæða á fundi Vestnorræna ráðsins<p style="text-align: justify;">Mr./Madame Chair, dear colleagues,</p> <p style="text-align: justify;"> Let me start by thanking you for the opportunity to meet with the West Nordic Council here today. The topic of this meeting focuses on the West Nordic region in the Arctic and cooperation possibilities which I believe should allow us to engage in an interesting dialogue on current and important issues.</p> <p style="text-align: justify;">In the past years and decades, the world has turned its eye towards the Arctic - and for a good reason. The Arctic is blessed with numerous economic opportunities relating to shipping, logistics and tourism to mention only a few. The Arctic region also faces urgent challenges, not least related to the effects of climate change. This encourages us to cooperate in the international arena as we also seek to address those demanding issues domestically.</p> <p style="text-align: justify;">It is our collective responsibility to use this increased interest in the Arctic to highlight to the rest of the world how important the region is. At the same time, it is equally, or even more, important to make sure that our own citizens and decision-makers realize the potential that we have in the Arctic region. This includes us here in Iceland, Greenland and the Faroe Islands.</p> <p style="text-align: justify;">One of the points highlighted in Iceland´s Arctic policy from 2011 is strengthening and increasing the cooperation with the Faroe Islands and Greenland - with the aim of promoting the interests and political position of the three countries. This is an important point for Iceland as it is both logical and practical for us to increase cooperation with our most immediate and close neighbors to the east and west.</p> <p style="text-align: justify;">Important steps towards increasing our cooperation were taken by establishing the General Consulates in Tórshavn and Nuuk in 2005 and 2013 respectively. The role of these offices is to expand and strengthen our relations to the Faroe Islands and Greenland.</p> <p style="text-align: justify;">The possibilities for increased cooperation are numerous. Iceland, for example, has seen great increase in tourism in the past few year and numerous cooperation possibilities exist in marketing Iceland, Greenland and the Faroe Islands together as a tourist destination. We also see the recent cooperation agreement between the Icelandic shipping company Eimskip and Royal Arctic Line providing possibilities to increase the Greenlandic imports and exports in connection to the new container terminal in Nuuk. <br /> <br /> Dear colleagues,<br /> Approximately one year ago, the Foreign Ministers of our three countries agreed to establish a working group to draft a proposal for a cooperation agreement between the three countries. The working group has now presented its conclusions and a draft cooperation agreement between the West Nordic countries has been concluded on their basis. I am pleased to inform you that the aim is to sign this agreement at our Ministerial meeting later today.</p> <p style="text-align: justify;">The cooperation agreement foresees that the Foreign Ministers of the West Nordic countries engage in a political dialogue on an annual basis. Furthermore, a special working group will be set up to identify cooperation possibilities, work towards the removal of trade barriers between the three countries and follow up on political instructions for increased cooperation, such as recommendations by the West Nordic Council.</p> <p style="text-align: justify;">In addition, the working group addressed several interesting issues, which were considered to require further consultations. Amongst those I would like to mention the idea of a West Nordic Free Trade Agreement and a West Nordic Trade Council. These ideas are worth considering with open minds in the coming months. <br /> <br /> Dear friends,<br /> Within the Arctic Council cooperation, the Finnish two years Chairmanship began last spring. The Finns have outlined their chairmanship program with focus on environmental protection, communication in the Arctic and education and metrological cooperation between the Arctic states. This is a pragmatic and practical chairmanship program and we are confident that it will be successful and produce substantial outcomes for the Arctic Council. <br /> We look forward to working with the Faroe Islands and Greenland on these priorities as well as the ongoing eighty projects that the Arctic Council and its working groups are currently working on.</p> <p style="text-align: justify;">Iceland supported the application of the West Nordic Council for observer status in the Arctic Council. Our position has been that we should welcome observers into the Arctic Council that have a genuine interest and real stake in following developments in the Arctic.<br /> For us it is self-evident that the West Nordic Council is such an actor and I am pleased to welcome the West Nordic Council as an observer in the Arctic Council as decided by the Fairbanks Ministerial Meeting in Alaska last May. <br /> In spring 2019 Iceland will take over the chairmanship of the Arctic Council. We have already taken the first steps in the preparations by organizing a large workshop earlier this year, gathering some key actors and institutions that are working on Arctic issues here in Iceland.</p> <p style="text-align: justify;">Today, the Arctic Council agenda is both broader and deeper than before, comprising issues like culture, education, science, research, economic opportunities and search and rescue. Iceland, the Faroe Islands and Greenland already cooperate on many levels and our economies are closely connected.</p> <p style="text-align: justify;">We can do more to broaden and deepen cooperation in our region and I look forward to discussing this with you. I hope that this brief outline has given you some ideas of the importance my government puts on the Arctic and how significant it is for us to cooperate in the West Nordic region. </p> <p style="text-align: justify;"> Thank you.<br /> <br /> <br /> <br /> <br /> </p>
07. júní 2017Blá ör til hægriHryðjuverk eru raunveruleg ógn<p>Hryðjuverk eru raunveruleg ógn</p> <p><span>Eftir Guðlaug Þór Þórðarson</span><br /> <br /> Í tvígang með skömmu millibili hefur hryðjuverkaógnin höggvið nærri okkur í tíma og rúmi. Hugur okkar Íslendinga er hjá bresku þjóðinni og ég hef komið á framfæri fordæmingu stjórnvalda gagnvart hryðjuverkunum í Manchester og Lundúnum, sem beindust ekki síst að ungu fólki í blóma lífsins. Það hefur sömuleiðis verið aðdáunarvert að fylgjast með viðbrögðum bresku þjóðarinnar, hversu sameinuð hún stendur og staðráðin í því að láta ekki huglausa morðingja og hryðjuverkamenn hafa áhrif á líf sitt og gildi, sem byggja meðal annars á frelsi, mannúð og umburðarlyndi. <br /> Árásirnar í Manchester og Lundúnum, og aðrar í Stokkhólmi, Brussel og París, svo einungis kunnuglegir áfangastaðir fjölmargra Íslendinga séu nefndir, eru hins vegar atlaga að okkur öllum sem aðhyllast þessa sömu lífsskoðun - þessi sömu gildi sem okkur er svo annt um og viljum í engu breyta. <br /> Við getum hins vegar ekki horft framhjá þessum atburðum og þeirri breyttu mynd sem okkur birtist í öryggis- og varnarmálum. Baráttan gegn hryðjuverkum er háð á mörgum stigum. Það þarf að ráðast að rótum vandans og Ísland leggur þar sitt að mörkum í þróunar- og mannúðarstarfi, meðal annars í stríðshrjáðum ríkjum eins og Sýrlandi. Við tökum ennfremur þátt í alþjóðasamstarfi, meðal annars á vegum Atlantshafsbandalagsins og löggæslustofnana, í því augnamiði að stemma stigu við hryðjuverkum. Baráttan gegn hryðjuverkum er barátta gegn illvirkjum. <br /> Þá verðum við að gæta þess að hér heima sé til staðar sá viðbúnaður sem með þarf ef á reynir. Embætti ríkislögreglustjóra gefur reglubundið út mat á hættu af hryðjuverkum – hið síðasta frá upphafi þessa árs. Samkvæmt mati embættisins er hættustig í meðallagi, sem þýðir að hætta af hryðjuverkum hér á landi er ekki útilokuð. Hættumatið að baki nýsamþykktrar þjóðaröryggisstefnu fyrir Ísland er á sömu lund hvað hryðjuverkaógnina varðar. <br /> Á vegum Atlantshafsbandalagsins er nú unnið að endurskoðun viðbragðs- og varnaráætlana sem lúta að hinu breytta umhverfi öryggis- og varnarmála í Evrópu og á norðanverðu Atlantshafi, og taka sérfræðingar okkar fullan þátt í þeirri vinnu. Samhliða þessari vinnu er unnið að sérstakri viðbragðs- og varnaráætlun fyrir Ísland sem tekur mið af slíkum áætlunum og heimfærir upp á íslenskar aðstæður, þ.m.t. hugsanlegri ógn af hermdar- og hryðjuverkamönnum. Áætlunin er unnin í samvinnu við hlutaðeigandi ráðuneyti og stofnanir og geri ég ráð fyrir að vinnu við gerð hennar ljúki á haustdögum. Ennfremur verður fyllsta samráðs við þjóðaröryggisráð og utanríkismálanefnd Alþingis gætt. <br /> Við Íslendingar erum lánsöm þjóð og sem betur fer steðjar ekki bráð hætta af hryðjuverkum hér á landi. Slík hætta er hins vegar ekki útilokuð og nýlegir atburðir í Bretlandi eru okkur áminning um að sýna fyllstu árvekni og huga að okkar eigin viðbúnaði – um leið og við höldum áfram að styðja við baráttuna gegn hryðjuverkum á alþjóðavísu. <br /> Við þurfum að standa vörð um gildin okkar. </p> Höfundur er utanríkisráðherra.
01. júní 2017Blá ör til hægriRæða á fundi Varðbergs - Þjóðaröryggi í nýju ljósi<em>-talað orð gildir</em>-<br /> <br /> Varðberg – Samtök um vestræna samvinnu og alþjóðamál<br /> Ræða Guðlaugs Þórs Þórðarsonar utanríkisráðherra<br /> Þjóðminjahúsinu, 1. júní 2017 kl. 12<br /> Þjóðaröryggi í nýju ljósi<br /> <br /> Ágætu fundarmenn,<br /> <br /> Ég vil byrja á því að þakka Varðbergi fyrir að standa fyrir þessum fundi um öryggis- og varnarmál. Ég hef lagt töluverða áherslu á þennan málaflokk í störfum mínum sem utanríkisráðherra og tel að við stöndum á ákveðnum tímamótum. Það er enn fremur mikilvægt að ræða um öryggis- og varnarmál án upphrópana og vil ég sérstaklega þakka Birni Bjarnasyni fyrir sín skrif og sitt framlag í þeim efnum í áranna rás. <br /> <br /> Fyrir tíu dögum urðu söguleg tímamót þegar þjóðaröryggisráð Íslands kom saman í fyrsta skipti á grundvelli þjóðaröryggisstefnu fyrir Ísland sem samþykkt var á Alþingi á síðasta ári. Í fyrsta skipti lýðveldissögunni erum við með tæki í höndunum þar sem horft er með heildstæðum hætti á öryggismál og þær áskoranir sem við stöndum frammi fyrir. <br /> <br /> Þannig tekur þjóðaröryggisstefnan jafnt til virkrar utanríkisstefnu, varnarstefnu og almannaöryggis sem er nauðsynlegt þar sem ógnir og áhættuþættir samtímans kalla á samvinnu og samspil þvert á hefðbundnari skilgreiningar innra og ytra öryggis. Ég bind miklar vonir við starf þjóðaröryggisráðs og framkvæmd þjóðaröryggisstefnunnar.<br /> <br /> Hvað varnarstefnuna varðar, sem ég mun gera að megin umræðuefni í máli mínu hér í dag, tilgreinir þjóðaröryggisstefnan aðild Íslands að Atlantshafsbandalaginu og varnarsamninginn við Bandaríkin frá 1951 áfram lykilstoðir í vörnum Íslands. Varnarmál þjóðarinnar hvíla því þar á traustum grunni og skýrum skuldbindingum. Þar hefur engin breyting orðið þótt forsendur kalda stríðsins séu löngu horfnar og rúmur áratugur liðinn frá því er varnarlið Bandaríkjanna fór af landi brott. <br /> <br /> Þjóðaröryggisstefnan tilgreinir jafnframt hættuna af hryðjuverkum sem höggva orðið nærri okkur í tíma og rúmi – nú síðast í Manchester þar sem á þriðja tug manns lét lífið, mestmegnis ungmenni, að ógleymdri mannskæðri árás í Kabúl. Þá er til staðar ógn við tölvu og netöryggi eða frá blönduðum hernaði sem snýr að beinum eða óbeinum hernaðaraðgerðum ásamt undirróðri og áróðri af ýmsu tagi. Er þá ótalin ógnin af gereyðingarvopnum og öll fylgjumst við með stöðu mála á Kóreuskaga þessi misserin. Þá tilgreinir þjóðaröryggisstefnan norrænt varnarsamstarf sem hefur farið mjög vaxandi á umliðnum árum og fyrr á þessu ári undirritaði ég sameiginlega yfirlýsingu með varnarmálaráðherra Noregs um aukna samvinnu landanna á sviði varnarmála. Einnig kemur þjóðaröryggisstefnan inn á áhættuþætti eins og náttúruhamfarir og umhverfisslys á norðurslóðum sem gætu haft verulegar afleiðingar. <br /> <br /> Ísland er vitanlega hluti af hinu breytta og flókna öryggisumhverfi. Það er lítið skjól í landfræðilegum fjarlægðum á því herrans ári 2017. Hvað samskiptin við Rússland varðar urðu þáttaskil í marsmánuði 2014 þegar landamærum í Úkraínu var breytt með hervaldi – atburður sem ekki á sér hliðstæðu í sögu Evrópu frá stríðslokum. Með framferði sínu í Úkraínu, og raunar víðar, hafa stjórnvöld í Rússlandi sýnt vilja til að ná pólitískum markmiðum með valdbeitingu og hótunum um hana – og grafið undan öryggi og stöðugleika í Evrópu. <br /> <br /> Þessi vandi og erfið samskipti Vesturlanda við Rússland lúta ekki síst að þeirri stefnu Rússlandsstjórnar að fyrrum lýðveldi Sovétríkjanna séu á rússnesku áhrifasvæði. Það liggur í hlutarins eðli að stefna um áhrifasvæði virðir hvorki alþjóðalög né samninga þegar svo ber undir. Ríki sem er gert að beygja sig undir slíka stefnu fá ekki notið fullveldisréttar síns. Þeim leyfist ekki, frá sjónarhóli Kremlverja, að hegða sér með einhverjum þeim hætti sem stangast á við hagsmuni Rússlands að þeirra mati – þar á meðal að hafa náin tengsl við ríki eða stofnanir utan svæðisins. Atlantshafsbandalagið og Evrópusambandið eru þar efst á blaði. <br /> <br /> Það þarf ekki að hafa mörg orð um hvernig stefna sem þessi misbýður okkur Íslendingum og bandamönnum okkar, og öllum sem er annt um frelsið. Slík stefna grefur auðvitað undan markmiðinu um sameinaða, frjálsa og friðsama Evrópu sem menn töldu sig eygja möguleika á eftir kalda stríðið. Enda er talað skýrt af okkar hálfu og Atlantshafsbandalagsins þegar kemur að stuðningi við fullveldi ríkja og að þau skuli njóta sjálfstæðis í utanríkis- og öryggismálum.<br /> <br /> Auk framferðis Rússlands í Úkraínu og Georgíu og víðar hafa skyndiheræfingar og önnur hernaðarumsvif átt sér stað nálægt landamærum NATO ríkja, þar á meðal á Eystrasaltssvæðinu, Svartahafssvæðinu og austanverðu Miðjarðarhafi. Einnig hefur rússneskum herflugvélum verið flogið glannalega nálægt herskipum bandalagsríkja og inn fyrir lögsögu þeirra. Hér heima verðum við sömuleiðis vör við aukin hernaðarumsvif á norðanverðu Atlantshafi, ekki síst umferð rússneskra kafbáta og flugi langdrægra sprengjuflugvéla. Hernaðaríhlutun Rússa í Sýrlandi og stuðningur við Assad Sýrlandsforseta hefur auðvitað einnig haft neikvæð áhrif á samskipti Vesturlanda og Rússlands og aukið enn á erfiðleika í samskiptunum. <br /> <br /> En þrátt fyrir mjög versnandi samskipti í kjölfar innlimunar Rússa á Krímskaga og íhlutunar þeirra í Úkraínu hafa leiðtogar Vesturlanda forðast að kalla Rússland óvinaríki. Og þótt Atlantshafsbandalagið hafi að mestu fryst samskipti við Rússland eru bandalagsríkin reiðubúin til samtals. Bandalagið vill ekki nýtt kalt stríð eða nýtt vígbúnaðarkapphlaup í Evrópu og er eindregið þeirrar skoðunar að það eigi að ræða við Rússland, en af festu, enda séu gagnkvæmir hagsmunir að minnka spennu í samskiptunum og tryggja betri sambúð. Þetta hefur komið skýrt fram á fundum mínum með utanríkisráðherrum og varnarmálaráðherrum Atlantshafsbandalagsins, og var enn áréttað á leiðtogafundinum í síðustu viku. Og sjálfur hef ég átt samtöl við utanríkisráðherra og forseta Rússlands í þessa veru.<br /> <br /> Framferði Rússlandsstjórnar og vilji til að ná fram pólitískum markmiðum með valdbeitingu og hótunum felur á hinn bóginn í sér alvarlega áskorun fyrir Atlantshafsbandalagið sem það verður að bregðast við. Það hefur verið gert með því að sýna með staðföstum og yfirveguðum hætti fælingar- og varnarmátt gagnvart Rússlandi þar sem við á og einkum hefur þessi stefna birst á Eystrasaltssvæðinu þar sem viðbragðssveitir bandalagsins hafa verið settar á fót. Þótt Eystrasaltsríkin séu fyrrum Sovétlýðveldi eru þau ekki á áhrifasvæði Rússa, enda aðildarríki Atlantshafsbandalagsins. Það urðu þau árið 2004 þrátt fyrir andóf og óánægju rússneskra stjórnvalda og vegna eindregins stuðnings og baráttu ýmissa NATO ríkja fyrir aðild Eystrasaltsríkjanna. Ísland skipaði sér að sjálfsögðu í sveit með þeim bandalagsríkjum sem þar voru í fararbroddi. Enda var Ísland eitt fárra ríkja sem aldrei viðurkenndi hernám Eystrasaltsríkjanna og innlimun í Sovétríkin á sínum tíma og varð fyrst til að viðurkenna endurheimt frelsis þeirra og sjálfstæðis eins og öllum er kunnugt. <br /> <br /> Kæru fundarmenn,<br /> <br /> Líkt og fram kemur í greinargerð með þjóðaröryggisstefnu fyrir Ísland er, sem betur fer, ólíklegt að hernaðarógn steðji að Íslandi. Byggir það mat meðal annars á greiningum Atlantshafsbandalagsins. Hins vegar, eins og sömuleiðis kemur fram í greinargerðinni, er hernaðarógn af þeim toga að fullveldi og sjálfstæði þjóðar er stefnt í hættu og því þarf að gera nauðsynlegar ráðstafanir. Sem herlaus þjóð gerum við það best með samningum við önnur ríki – í okkar tilviki með tvíhliða varnarsamningi við Bandaríkin og aðild að Atlantshafsbandalaginu, auk þess sem við verðum að gæta þess að innlendur viðbúnaður, líkt og stuðningur við erlenda heri, sé fyrir hendi. Þá þarf ávallt að meta stöðu og horfur í öryggis- og varnarmálum með reglubundnum hætti og kveða lögin um þjóðaröryggisráð á um hlutverk ráðsins í þeim efnum. Ég tel að sýna þurfi ítrustu árvekni við mat á hernaðarógn og teldi rétt að þjóðaröryggisráð léti leggja nýtt mat á hana og aðra áhættuþætti. <br /> <br /> Skiljanlega er aðallega horft til suðurs og austurs í þeim efnum en einnig hafa sjónir beinst að Norður Atlantshafi á nýjan leik. Í yfirlýsingu leiðtogafundar Atlantshafsbandalagsins í fyrra er tekið fram að þar verði bandalagið tilbúið til að beita fælingar- og varnarmætti gegn hvers kyns hugsanlegri ógn, þar á meðal á siglingaleiðum og hafsvæðum í nágrenni NATO-ríkja. Í þ