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23.05.2023 10:30 Utanríkisráðuneytið

Ávarp á málstofu fjárfesta í Sviss

Dear guests,

I want to welcome you to this seminar on Opportunities in Sustainable Iceland organised by Íslandsstofa, Business Iceland, in connection with my official visit to Switzerland. 

Iceland and Switzerland are longstanding friends and partners. It is true that we have chosen different paths in ensuring our security. Switzerland has relied on and cultivated neutrality while my country is a founding member of NATO. But regardless of the type of security arrangements we have chosen, I believe we are – and that we must remain - united in taking a clear stand against flagrant violations of the UN charter and international law, such as Russia’s unlawful and brutal invasion into Ukraine.

Iceland and Switzerland share many of the same ideals and goals. We stand by the rule of law and peaceful resolution of disputes. We go hand in hand in promoting respect for human rights, humanitarian law and sustainable development. And we have very successfully worked together on promoting free trade and the multilateral rules-based trading system.

In short, I think we may say that Iceland and Switzerland prefer to be countries that are more known for being part of solutions to problems, rather than creating problems.

My visit to Switzerland has provided the perfect opportunity to highlight and strengthen the long-standing good relations between our two countries. 

Many of the most severe challenges we now face are international in nature and transcend national boundaries. The climate crisis had just been fully acknowledged by people around the world when the Covid pandemic hit us and now we find us with a full-blown Russian war of aggression being waged against Ukraine.

To tackle these challenges, we need more international collaboration and cooperation, both at the public and the private level. Last week Reykjavík hosted the fourth summit of the leaders of the member states of the Council of Europe. The leaders committed to the Reykjavík principles on Democracy and meaningful steps were taken in the process of establishing a mechanism for justice and accountability after the war.

Ladies and gentlemen.

This seminar serves to strengthen our bilateral cooperation with Switzerland at the business level, focusing on sustainable solutions and opportunities. 

Sustainability rests on three pillars, environmental protection, and social and economic development, and can only be achieved when we strike the right balance. Iceland’s current export policy and strategy is founded on this and sets the goal that Iceland should be recognised as leading on sustainability. I am therefore very happy to be with you here today where Business Iceland is highlighting opportunities in sustainable Iceland.

Iceland is already in a relatively good position. We benefit from abundance of renewable energy that meets all our needs for both electricity and space heating. But we need to do even better.  My government has been seeking ways to improve conditions for innovation and sustainable business development in Iceland. Diversifying our economy and diminishing our reliance on natural resources is important for us; so talent, technology and innovation is our focus. And foreign direct investments are of particular importance as they can bring new knowledge, connections, and ideas. 

In support of those objectives my government has phased out our old general incentives for investments and introduced in their place new incentives on green investments. Furthermore, we increased the already generous support for Research and Development. We understand that we will not do it alone and we have therefore introduced a system of incentives for talented foreigners working in Iceland and set up a fast track for them to obtain work- and residence permits, when required. 

I look forward to listening to the presentations lined up for us here today, focusing on green solutions and innovation when investing in Iceland, the Icelandic equity market, and plans for the sustainable development of the Keflavík Airport Area. 

I am honoured that Bernard Jaggy, Ambassador of Switzerland to Iceland will deliver the closing remarks before we engage in more free flowing discussions during our buffet lunch afterwards.

In conclusion let me again welcome you all to this seminar here today and I hope that it may inspire you to explore sustainable opportunities in Iceland. 


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