Foreign relations of Iceland

This article is part of a series on the
politics and government of

Iceland's closest relations are with Norway and other Nordic states, Canada and the United States.

Iceland hosted the historic 1986 Reagan-Gorbachev summit in Reykjavík, which set the stage for the end of the Cold War.

Fishing rights

Iceland's principal historical international disputes involved disagreements over fishing rights. Conflict with the United Kingdom led to the so-called Cod Wars in 1952–56 because of the extension of the fishing zone from 3 to 4 nautical miles (6 to 7 km), 1958–61 because of extending the fishing zone to 12 nautical miles (22 km) in 1972–73 because of its further extension to 50 nautical miles (93 km) and in 1975–76 because of its extension to 200 nautical miles (370 km).[1][2] Disagreements with Norway and Russia over fishing rights in the Barents Sea were successfully resolved in 2000.


Certain environmentalists are concerned that Iceland left the International Whaling Commission (IWC) in June 1992 in protest of an IWC decision to refuse to lift the ban on whaling, after the IWC Scientific Committee had determined that the taking of certain species could safely be resumed. That year, Iceland established a separate commission – along with Norway, Greenland and the Faroe Islands – for the conservation, management, and study of marine mammals. Since then, Iceland has resumed whaling for scientific purpose and has rejoined the IWC (in October 2002). The Icelandic Fisheries Ministry issued a permit to hunt 39 whales for commercial purposes on 17 October 2006.[3] 25 states delivered a formal diplomatic protest to the Icelandic government on 1 November concerning resumed commercial whaling. The protest was led by the United Kingdom and supported by others such as Finland and Sweden.[4]


Iceland was the first country to recognize the regained independence of Lithuania, Latvia, Estonia, Georgia, Armenia and Azerbaijan from the USSR in 1990–1991. Similarly, it was the first country to recognize Montenegro's independence from its former union with Serbia.[5] Iceland was also the first country to recognize Croatia, having done so on 19 December 1991.[6] Significantly, Iceland was also the first Western state to recognise Palestine when it did so in 2011.[7] Iceland also is the greatest Nordic contributor per capita to NATO-led troops in Bosnia and Kosovo, to the police in Bosnia and to Bosniab/Kosovan reconstruction, resettlement and relief efforts.

Membership in international organizations

Iceland is a member of the following organisations: North Atlantic Treaty Organisation; Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe; International Criminal Court; International Bank for Reconstruction and Development; International Development Association; International Finance Corporation; Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development; European Economic Area; European Free Trade Association; Council of Europe; International Criminal Police Organization; and the United Nations, since 19 November 1946, and most of its specialized agencies, including the International Monetary Fund, World Trade Organization, Food and Agricultural Organization, International Atomic Energy Agency, International Civil Aviation Organization, International Labour Organization, International Maritime Organization, International Telecommunication Union, United Nations Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization, Universal Postal Union, World Health Organization, World Meteorological Organization and the International Whaling Commission. The Icelandic government currently finances two Programs of the United Nations University that are located in Iceland: the Geothermal Training Programme since 1979 and the Fisheries Training Programme since 1998.

International disputes


Main article: Rockall

Iceland has an ongoing dispute with Denmark (on behalf of the Faroe Islands) on the one hand and with the UK and Ireland on the other hand, concerning claims to the continental shelf in the Hatton–Rockall area of the North Atlantic under the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea (1982).[8] Iceland's claim covers virtually the entire area claimed by the other three countries, except for a small portion in the south-east corner of the Irish claim,[9] while the Faroes claim most of the area claimed by the UK and Ireland.[10] Negotiations continue between the four countries in the hope of making a joint proposal to the United Nations Commission on the Limits of the Continental Shelf by May 2009.

Deposit insurance

Main article: Icesave dispute

Following the collapse of Icesave sparking the 2008–2012 Icelandic financial crisis, the U.K. and the Netherlands offered to insure the deposits of the bank's customers. They then sought repayment from Iceland, which held a referendum on the issue in 2010 and 2011, both of which failed. The two governments then said they would take the issue to European courts to seek redress they alleged is owed to them. In January 2013 the EFTA court cleared Iceland of all charges.

European Union application

Iceland's reluctance to join the EU's Common Fisheries Policy is a major stumbling bloc to accession

Iceland has had a close relationship with the European Union (EU) throughout its development, but has remained outside (instead, joining the European Free Trade Area or EFTA). In 1972, the two sides signed a free trade agreement and in 1994 Iceland joined the European Economic Area which let itself and other non-EU states have access to the EU's internal market in exchange for Iceland contributing funds and applying EU law in relevant areas. The EU is Iceland's most important trading partner with a strong trade surplus in 2008/9 in terms of goods, services and foreign direct investment. Iceland also participates in the Schengen Area (as well as relevant police and judicial cooperation) and has non-voting representation in some EU agencies.[11][12]

However, after Iceland's financial crash in 2008, it has sought membership of the EU and the euro. Iceland applied on 16 July 2009 and negotiations formally began 17 June 2011.[13] After an agreement is concluded, the accession treaty must be ratified by every EU state and be subject to a national referendum in Iceland.[14] Since the application was submitted, popular support has declined and contentious issues around Icelandic fisheries may derail negotiations. However the Icelandic government is confident an agreement can be reached based on the flexibility shown by the EU in its previous negotiations with Norway.[15]

Agreed Minute

Main article: Agreed Minute

The Agreed Minute was a statute governing the nature of the U.S. military presence in Iceland. The Agreed Minute was last renegotiated in 2001. At the time, the U.S. Air Force committed itself to maintaining four to six interceptors at the Keflavík base, supported by a helicopter rescue squad. The Air Force, in order to cut costs, announced plans to remove the four remaining jets in 2003. The removal was then delayed to address Icelandic demands for continued presence of the jets. After an unfruitful series of negotiations and two reshuffles of the Icelandic government the issue lay dormant until early 2006 when the U.S. Air Force issued an official statement that withdrawal of the aircraft was already being prepared. U.S. officials have since then argued that Iceland is in no need of a military presence.

NATO allies since then conduct air policing after the U.S. Air Force withdrawal.

Bilateral Relations

Country Formal Relations Began Notes
  • Iceland is represented in Belarus through its embassy in Moscow and an honorary consulate in Minsk.
  • Belgium is represented in Iceland through its embassy in Oslo and an honorary consulate in Reykjavík.[18]
  • Iceland has an embassy in Brussels.[19]
  • Iceland is represented in Bulgaria through its embassy in Copenhagen and an honorary consulate in Sofia.
 Canada1947See Canada–Iceland relations
  • Canada has an embassy in Reykjavik.[20]
  • Iceland has an embassy in Ottawa and a consulate-general in Winnipeg.[21]
 ChinaSee People's Republic of China – Iceland relations
  • In May 1972, China assigned the first resident ambassador to Iceland.
  • In January 1995, Iceland set up its embassy in Beijing and assigned its first resident ambassador to China.
  • In December 1995, China resumed the practice of sending resident ambassadors to Iceland (between 1983 and 1995, the Chinese ambassador to Copenhagen, Denmark was also accredited to Iceland).
  • In April 2013 Iceland entered into a free trade agreement with China.[22]
 Czech Republic1993-01-01See Czech Republic–Iceland relations
  • The Czech Republic is represented in Iceland through an honorary consulate in Reykjavík.
  • Iceland is represented in the Czech Republic through its embassy in Vienna (Austria) and through an honorary consulate in Prague.
 Denmark1918See Denmark–Iceland relations

Iceland was a part of the Kingdom of Denmark from 1814 to 1918 and a separate kingdom in a personal union with Denmark until 1944, when Iceland declared independence.

 EstoniaSee Foreign relations of Estonia
  • Iceland is represented in Estonia through its embassy in Helsinki and an honorary consulate in Tallinn.
  • Iceland was the first country to recognize Estonia's independence in 1991.
 FinlandSee Finland–Iceland relations
  • Finland has an embassy in Reykjavík.[25]
  • Iceland has an embassy in Helsinki.[26]
 FranceSee France–Iceland relations
  • France has an embassy in Reykjavík.[27]
  • Iceland has an embassy in Paris.[28]
 GermanySee Foreign relations of Germany
  • Iceland has an embassy in Berlin.[29]
  • Germany has an embassy in Reykjavík.[30]
  • Both countries are NATO members.
 GreeceSee Greek–Icelandic relations
  • Greece is represented in Iceland through its embassy in Oslo (Norway) and through an honorary consulate in Reykjavík. Iceland is represented in Greece through its embassy in Oslo (Norway) and through an honorary consulate in Athens.
 Hong Kong
  • Iceland is represented through its honorary consulate within Hong Kong. The honorary consulate also is delegated to Macao.[31]
 IndiaSee Iceland–India relations

Historically, Indo-Icelandic bilateral relations have been friendly but lacked substantive content.[32]

  • Iran is accredited to Iceland from its embassy in Oslo.[33]
  • Iceland is accredited to Iran from its embassy in Oslo.[34]
 Ireland11 March 1948 See Iceland–Ireland relations
 Latvia1991-08-22See Iceland–Latvia relations
  • Iceland was the first country to recognise the independence of Latvia in August 1991.
  • Iceland is represented in Latvia through its embassy in Helsinki (Finland).
  • Latvia is represented in Iceland through its embassy in Oslo (Norway) and an honorary consulate in Reykjavík.
 Mexico24 March 1964See Iceland–Mexico relations
 New Zealand
  • Iceland is accredited to New Zealand from its embassy in Beijing and has 2 honorary consulates in New Zealand at Auckland and Nelson.[46]
  • New Zealand does not have an embassy in Iceland nor are any of its embassies accredited to Iceland.
 NorwaySee Iceland–Norway relations
  • Iceland has an embassy in Oslo.[47]
  • Norway has an embassy in Reykjavík.[48]
 PalestineSee Iceland–Palestine relations

On 29 November 2011, the parliament of Iceland passed a resolution that authorized the government to officially recognize the state of Palestine within the 1967 borders. As of 15 July 2013, Iceland is the first and only Western European country to recognise the independence of Palestine. Full diplomatic relations exist between the two states. Iceland's representative to Palestine is a non-resident based at the Ministry for Foreign Affairs in Reykjavík,while Palestine's ambassador to Iceland is also a non-resident based in Oslo, Norway.[49]

 Philippines24 February 1999

Iceland has its representation in the Philippines through its embassy in Tokyo, Japan, and the Philippines' ambassador in Oslo, Norway is also accredited to Iceland; although both countries established honorary consulates in Reykjavík[50] and Makati City, Metro Manila,[51] respectively.

 PolandJanuary 1946See Iceland–Poland relations
  • Iceland is accredited to Poland from its embassy in Berlin, Germany.[52]
  • Poland has an embassy in Reykjavík.[53]
  • Iceland is represented in Romania through its embassy in Copenhagen and an honorary consulate in Bucharest.
 RussiaSee Iceland–Russia relations
  • Iceland has an embassy in Moscow.[54]
  • Russia has an embassy in Reykjavík.[55]
  • Both countries have close ties in financing, which has strengthened the relations between the two.[56] Iceland also called Russia as its "new friend" after having been turned down by its traditional allies for an emergency loan to boost the balance sheet of its second largest commercial bank.[57]
 South Korea 10 October 1962[58]See Iceland-South Korea relations
  • The governments of Iceland and Sweden signed on 23 March 1921 a joint declaration for the protection of trade marks.[59]
  • Iceland has an embassy in Stockholm.[60]
  • Sweden has an embassy in Reykjavík.[61]
 United KingdomSee Iceland–United Kingdom relations
  • Iceland has an embassy in London.[63]
  • United Kingdom has an embassy in Reykjavík.[64]
 United States17 June 1944See Iceland–United States relations

Iceland and the U.S. are NATO allies. The United States prides itself on being the first country to recognize the regained independence of Iceland.

See also


  1. GuÐmundsson, GuÐmundur J. (2006-06-01). "The Cod and the Cold War". Scandinavian Journal of History. 31 (2): 97–118. doi:10.1080/03468750600604184. ISSN 0346-8755.
  2. Steinsson, Sverrir (2016-03-22). "The Cod Wars: a re-analysis". European Security. 0 (0): 1–20. doi:10.1080/09662839.2016.1160376. ISSN 0966-2839.
  3. "Iceland resumes commercial whaling". Greenpeace International. Retrieved 17 October 2006.
  4. "Iceland rapped over whale hunting". BBC. 1 November 2006. Retrieved 2 November 2006.
  5. The Government of Montenegro
  6. "Važniji datumi iz povijesti saborovanja". Hrvatski Sabor. Retrieved 23 April 2008.
  7. Press, Associated (2011-11-30). "Iceland recognises Palestinian state". The Guardian. ISSN 0261-3077. Retrieved 2016-05-01.
  8. Ross, John (27 September 2007). "Why a barren rock in the Atlantic is the focus of an international battle of wills". The Scotsman. Retrieved 27 September 2007.
  9. Regulation 196/1985. (Icelandic)
  10. Source: Icelandic Ministry for Foreign Affairs.
  11. Iceland, European Commission
  12. Iceland, EEAS
  13. Timeline of events – Iceland's application for membership of the EU, Icelandic Ministry for Foreign Affairs
  14. National Referendum – Iceland's application for membership of the EU, Icelandic Ministry for Foreign Affairs
  15. "Iceland: EU membership depends on fishery 'superpowers'". Retrieved 20 February 2015.
  16. Icelandic representation in Albania
  17. "English > Austurríki > The Icelandic Foreign Services". Retrieved 20 February 2015.
  18. "Addresses of Belgian Embassies and Consulates abroad". Retrieved 20 February 2015.
  19. "Belgium > The Icelandic Foreign Services". Retrieved 20 February 2015.
  20. "Embassy of Canada". Retrieved 20 February 2015.
  21. "Canada - Ottawa > The Icelandic Foreign Services". Retrieved 20 February 2015.
  22. Iceland and China Enter a Free Trade Agreement 15 April 2013 New York Times
  23. "Danmark i Island". Retrieved 20 February 2015.
  24. "English > Denmark > The Icelandic Foreign Services". Retrieved 20 February 2015.
  25. "Suomen suurlähetystö, Reykjavik". Retrieved 20 February 2015.
  26. "English > Finland > The Icelandic Foreign Services". Retrieved 20 February 2015.
  27. "Ambassade de France en Islande - Franska sendiráðið á Íslandi". Retrieved 20 February 2015.
  28. "English > France > The Icelandic Foreign Services". Retrieved 20 February 2015.
  29. "English > Germany > The Icelandic Foreign Services". Retrieved 20 February 2015.
  30. "Deutsche Botschaft Reykjavik - Startseite". Retrieved 20 February 2015.
  31. . Embassy of Iceland. 4 April 2012 Missing or empty |title= (help)
  32. Prasad, K.V. (30 May 2005). "My background helps me: Kalam". The Hindu. Retrieved 28 September 2008.
  34. Akkrediteringsland.
  35. "United Kingdom > The Icelandic Foreign Services". Retrieved 20 February 2015.
  36. Department of Foreign Affairs. "Denmark - Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade". Retrieved 20 February 2015.
  37. "English > France > The Icelandic Foreign Services". Retrieved 20 February 2015.
  38. Italian embassy in Oslo (also accredited to Iceland)
  39. "English > Japan > The Icelandic Foreign Services". Retrieved 20 February 2015.
  40. 1 2 "English > Finland > The Icelandic Foreign Services". Retrieved 20 February 2015.
  41. Dizaino Kryptis. "Lietuvos Respublikos užsienio reikalų ministerija - Lietuvos Respublikos užsienio reikalų ministerija". Retrieved 20 February 2015.
  42. "". Retrieved 2016-08-06. External link in |title= (help)
  43. 1 2 "United States - Washington DC > The Icelandic Foreign Services". Retrieved 20 February 2015.
  44. "BIENVENIDOS". Retrieved 12 November 2016.
  45. Embassies New Zealand Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade
  46. "Norway > The Icelandic Foreign Services". Retrieved 20 February 2015.
  47. "Norge - det offisielle nettstedet på Island". Retrieved 20 February 2015.
  48. "Ísland viðurkennir sjálfstæði Palestínu". Utanríkisráðuneyti. Retrieved 20 February 2015.
  49. "Contact Us". Embassy of the Philippines, Oslo. Retrieved 24 March 2013.
  50. "Listi yfir alla kjörræðismenn Íslands" (PDF). Utanríkisráðuneytið Íslands. Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Iceland. Retrieved 24 March 2013.
  51. Embassy of Iceland in Berlin
  52. Embassy of Poland in Reykjavík
  53. "English > Russia > The Icelandic Foreign Services". Retrieved 20 February 2015.
  54. Embassy of the Russian Federation to the Republic of Iceland (in English)
  55. "Iceland seeks Russian comfort". The Moscow News. Retrieved 26 June 2009. Russia received a similar official request late on Tuesday and the country's Finance Minister Alexei Kudrin was quoted by Interfax as saying: "We will consider it. Iceland has a reputation for strict budget discipline and has a high credit rating. We're looking favorably at the request." Negotiations on the loan are supposed to start on October 14.
  56. Mason, Rowena (7 October 2008). "Iceland nationalises bank and seeks Russian loan". The Daily Telegraph. London. Retrieved 26 June 2009. Prime Minister Geir Haarde rushed emergency measures through the Nordic nation's parliament to nationalise Landsbanki and give the country's largest bank, Kaupthing, a £400m loan to bolster its balance sheet.
  57. 1 2 "Countries and Regions > Europe > List of the Countries". Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Republic of Korea
  58. Text in League of Nations Treaty Series, vol. 4, pp. 138–140.
  59. "Sweden > The Icelandic Foreign Services". Retrieved 20 February 2015.
  60. "Reykjavik - SwedenAbroad". Retrieved 20 February 2015.
  61. "Посольство України в Фінляндській Республіці та Республіці Iсландія (за сумісництвом)". Retrieved 20 February 2015.
  62. "United Kingdom > The Icelandic Foreign Services". Retrieved 20 February 2015.
  63. "British Embassy Reykjavik - GOV.UK". Retrieved 20 February 2015.
  64. "Home - Embassy of the United States Reykjavik, Iceland". Retrieved 20 February 2015.
Foreign representations in Iceland
This article is issued from Wikipedia - version of the 12/3/2016. The text is available under the Creative Commons Attribution/Share Alike but additional terms may apply for the media files.