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Ræða eða grein fyrrum ráðherra

Halldór Ásgrímsson, utanríkisráðherra 1995–2004

Ávarp ráðherra við upphaf Íslandskynningar í Tókýó, Japan (á ensku)

Minister's Address at the Opening of the Iceland Fair in Tokyo, Japan
(Ræða ráðherra við upphaf Íslandskynningar í Tókýó, Japan)
22 October, 2001


It is a particular pleasure to meet here today so many good friends of Iceland. The Iceland Fair now to be opened in connection with the establishment of an Icelandic Embassy in Tokyo would indeed be impossible without the assistance of the many friends Iceland has in this country.

Iceland and Japan may at first seem to be two worlds a part with little in common. Closer scrutiny will demonstrate that we have more in common than many believe.

Firstly, we are island states and although different in size both countries have very advanced economics. Both have learned to live with forceful elements of nature. Both are volcanic countries and have adjusted to forces of nature. Harvesting geothermal energy is common to both countries. Sustainable utilisation of marine resources is important to both countries and there are not many countries that we Icelanders can share our sentiments as regards the sustainable usage of marine mammals. It will take us some time but we believe that we will eventually convince the rest of the world about our cause. Both states share similar understanding as regards the importance of sustainable agriculture, food security etc. Seafood is very important to our diet and both have historic tradition for eating sea weed, which is not so common in other parts of the world.

Life expectacy in both countries ranks the highest or among the highest in the world. We are both nations proud of our language and cultural heritage.

And similarities can even be found in areas such as the architecture of furniture. Coulors of our furniture may be different but closer scrutiny will reveal that the minimalistic approach is common both by the Nordic nations and Japan. We have learned how to make simple approch, very attractive. I could go on discussing our similarities but I will stop here.

Trade with Japan is very important to us and even though trade between Japan and Iceland has flourished, we are of the view that we can increase our trade significantly. We have good experience in our fish export, but we can in my view expand the areas of trade significantly. I can for example mention technical equipment for food processing, where Iceland has in my view a lot to offer. Many other examples can be seen here today.

Iceland is situated between two continents of Europe and the US and we believe our location could have strategic value for investment purposes. We also enjoy one of the rear nature pearls of Europe, which have not yet been appropriately introduced in Japan. The Embassy of Japan in Iceland, and the Embassy of Iceland in Japan, will have a challenging task ahead of them and we know already now that the enhanced co-operation will bear fruit.

I would like to use this opportunity to thank everybody, who has contributed to the preparation of the Iceland Fair. Furthermore, I want to thank you for your contribution to the relations between Iceland and Japan in various fields in the past. I feel confident that the Embassy of Iceland, which now is being opened in Japan, will continue to enjoy your support in the future.

In particular, I want to thank JETRO for its assistance. It is quite appropriate to hold the official opening of the Iceland Fair here in the Business Support Centre of JETRO.

The business seminars introduce the economic foundation of Iceland's existence and the cultural events reflect the cultural life in Iceland with exhibitions, concerts, a film festival and even sport exchange.

Thus, the Iceland Fair touches on many different aspects of Iceland and show fragments of Icelandic life, which I hope may help you to get a better picture of what Iceland stands for.

By these words I declare Iceland Fair open.


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