Foreign relations of Iceland

Coat of arms of Iceland.svg
This article is part of a series on the
politics and government of
Iceland
Constitution

Iceland established its foreign service in 1940 when Denmark became occupied by Nazi Germany and ties between the two countries were severed. The Republic of Iceland was founded in 1944. The Icelandic foreign service grew slowly in the post-WWII period, but increased rapidly after the mid-1990s. Iceland's closest relations are with the Nordic states, the European Union and the United States.[1][2] Iceland has been a member of the United Nations since 1945 and NATO since 1949. In terms of European integration, Iceland is a member of EFTA, EEA and Schengen.[3]

From 1951 to 2006, there was an American military base and troop presence in Iceland.[4] During the Cold War, Iceland had a close but contentious relationship with the United States, leading some scholars to describe Iceland as a "rebellious ally" and "reluctant ally."[2][5] Iceland repeatedly threatened to leave NATO or cancel the US defence agreement during the Cold War.[6][2][1] As a consequence, the United States provided Iceland with extensive economic assistance and diplomatic support.[6][2][1]

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).[7][8] Disagreements with Norway and Russia over fishing rights in the Barents Sea were successfully resolved in 2000.

Whaling[]

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.[9] 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.[10]

Recognition of post-Soviet states[]

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.[11] Iceland was also the first country to recognize Croatia, having done so on 19 December 1991.[12] Significantly, Iceland was also the first Western state to recognise Palestine when it did so in 2011.[13] Iceland also is the greatest Nordic contributor per capita to NATO-led troops in Bosnia and Kosovo, to the police in Bosnia and to Bosnian/Kosovan reconstruction, resettlement and relief efforts.[citation needed]

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 Agriculture 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.

Iceland was given the opportunity to join the League of Nations after becoming sovereign in 1918, but opted not to, primarily due to limited administrative resources.[14] Iceland joined the UN in 1945 but took until 1965 to establish a permanent mission.[15]

International disputes[]

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).[16] 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,[17] while the Faroes claim most of the area claimed by the UK and Ireland.[18] 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.[citation needed]

Deposit insurance[]

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.[19][20]

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.[21] After an agreement is concluded, the accession treaty must be ratified by every EU state and be subject to a national referendum in Iceland.[22] 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.[23]

In 2014, Iceland froze their application to join the European Union.[24]

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[]

Iceland's first embassy was established in Copenhagen in 1920. The second and third embassies were opened in London and Sweden in 1940. That same year, a consulate-general was installed in New York (a year later, an embassy was opened in Washington D.C.). The Icelandic foreign service grew slowly (both in terms of missions and staff) in the post-WWII period, but increased rapidly after the mid-1990s. The Icelandic foreign service is vastly smaller than those of its Nordic neighbors.[15]

Africa[]

Country Formal Relations Began Notes
 Djibouti
  • Djibouti is accred to Iceland from its embassy in Paris, France.
  • Iceland is accred to Djibouti from its embassy in Kampala, Uganda.
 Kenya
  • Iceland is accred to Kenya from its embassy in Kampala, Uganda
  • Kenya is accred to Iceland from its embassy in Stockholm, Sweden.
 Malawi
  • Iceland has an embassy in Lilongwe.
  • Malawi is accred to Iceland from its high commission in London.
 Mozambique
  • Iceland is accred to Mozambique from its Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Reykjavik and maintains an honorary consulate in Maputo.
  • Mozambique is accred to Iceland from its embassy in Stockholm, Sweden.
 South Africa
  • Iceland is accred to South Africa from its Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Reykjavik.
  • South Africa is accred to Iceland from its embassy in Oslo, Norway.
 Uganda
  • Iceland has an embassy in Kampala.
  • Uganda is accred to Iceland from its embassy in Copenhagen, Denmark.

Americas[]

Country Formal Relations Began Notes
 Argentina 1952
  • Argentina is accred to Iceland from its embassy in Oslo, Norway.
  • Iceland is accred to Argentina from its Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Reykjavik and maintains an honorary consulate Buenos Aires.
 Barbados 1979

Both countries established diplomatic relations on 9 April 1979.[25]

 Belize 2004

Both countries have established diplomatic relations on 7 July 2004.[26][27]

 Brazil 1952
  • Brazil is accred to Iceland from its embassy in Oslo, Norway and maintains an honorary consulate in Reykjavik.
  • Iceland is accred to Brazil from its Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Reykjavik and maintains honorary consulates in Rio de Janeiro and São Paulo.
 Canada 1947 See Canada–Iceland relations
  • Canada has an embassy in Reykjavik.[28]
  • Iceland has an embassy in Ottawa and a consulate-general in Winnipeg.[29]
 Chile
  • Chile is accred to Iceland from its embassy in Oslo, Norway.
  • Iceland is accred to Chile from its Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Reykjavik.
 Colombia
  • Colombia is accred to Iceland from its embassy in Stockholm, Sweden.
  • Iceland is accred to Colombia from its Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Reykjavik.
 Cuba
  • Cuba is accred to Iceland from its embassy in Stockholm, Sweden.
  • Iceland is accred to Cuba from its Permanent Mission to the United Nations in New York City.
 Dominica 2004
  • Both countries established diplomatic relations in 2004.[27]
  • Iceland is represented in Dominica through its embassy in New York City, United States. Both countries have an agreement on cooperation on geothermal energy.[30]
 Guyana 2005

Both countries have established diplomatic relations on 10 March 2005.[31][27]

 Mexico 24 March 1964 See Iceland–Mexico relations
  • Iceland is accred to Mexico from its embassy in Washington D.C., United States and maintains honorary consulates in Campeche City and in Mexico City.[32]
  • Mexico is accred to Iceland from its embassy in Copenhagen, Denmark and maintains an honorary consulate in Reykjavík.[33]
 Panama 4 June 1999

Both countries established diplomatic relations on 4 June 1999.[34][35]

 Paraguay
  • Iceland is represented in Paraguay by its embassy in Washington, United States.[36]
  • Paraguay is represented in Iceland by its embassy in London, United Kingdom.[37]
 Peru
  • Iceland is accred to Peru from its Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Reykjavik and maintains an honorary consulate in Lima.
  • Peru is accred to Iceland from its embassy in Stockholm, Sweden.
 Saint Vincent and the Grenadines 27 May 2004
  • Both countries established diplomatic relations on 27 May 2004.[38]
  • Iceland is represented in Saint-Vincent-and-the-Grenadines by its Mission to the United Nations in New York City, United States.[39]
 Saint Kitts and Nevis

Iceland is represented in Saint Kitts and Nevis by its Mission to the United Nations in New York City, United States.[39]

 United States 17 June 1944 See 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.

  • Iceland has an embassy in Washington, D.C. and a consulate-general in New York City.[32]
  • United States has an embassy in Reykjavik.[40]
 Uruguay
  • Iceland is accred to Uruguay from its embassy in Washington, D.C., United States.
  • Uruguay is accred to Iceland from its embassy in London, United Kingdom and maintains an honorary consulate in Reykjavík.

Asia[]

Country Formal Relations Began Notes
 Armenia 1995
  • Iceland is accred to Armenia from its embassy in Moscow, Russia and maintains an honorary consulate in Yerevan.
 China See 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 accred to Iceland).
  • In April 2013 Iceland entered into a free trade agreement with China.[41]
 Georgia 21 September 1992

Both countries established diplomatic relations on 21 September 1992.

 Hong Kong
  • Iceland is represented through its honorary consulate within Hong Kong. The honorary consulate also is delegated to Macao.[42]
 India See Iceland–India relations

Historically, Indo-Icelandic bilateral relations have been friendly but lacked substantive content.[43]

 Indonesia 1983

Both countries established diplomatic relations in 1983.[44]

 Iran
  • Iceland is accred to Iran from its embassy in Oslo.[45]
  • Iran is accred to Iceland from its embassy in Oslo.[46]
 Israel May 1948 See Iceland–Israel relations
 Japan 8 December 1956 See Iceland–Japan relations
 Mongolia 1974

Both countries established diplomatic relations on 4 June 1974.[50]

   Nepal 1981

Both countries established diplomatic relations on 25 May 1981.[51]

 Pakistan

Pakistan maintain cordinal diplomatic relations with Iceland.[52]

 Palestine See 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.[53]

 Philippines 24 February 1999

Iceland has its representation in the Philippines through its embassy in Tokyo, Japan, and the Philippines' ambassador in Oslo, Norway is also accred to Iceland; although both countries established honorary consulates in Reykjavík[54] and Makati City, Metro Manila,[55] respectively.

 Singapore 1999

Both countries established diplomatic relations on 4 May 1999.[56]

 South Korea 10 October 1962[57] See Iceland–South Korea relations
  • The establishment of diplomatic relations between the Republic of Iceland and the Republic of Korea began on 10 October 1962.
  • The Republic of Iceland and the Republic of Korea relations are primarily based on cooperation over maritime issues such as whaling and bottom trawling and on bi-lateral trade in technology and fish products although there are various other ways in which the two countries interact.
 Turkey

Turkish Embassy in Oslo is accred to Iceland, while the Icelandic Embassy in Copenhagen is accred to Turkey.[58]

 Turkmenistan 13 February 1997

Both countries established diplomatic relations on 13 February 1997.[59]

 Uzbekistan 25 September 1997

Both countries established diplomatic relations on 25 September 1997.[60]

Europe[]

Country Formal Relations Began Notes
 Albania
 Andorra 1995

Both countries established diplomatic relations on 3 August 1995.[62]

 Austria 1928
 Belarus
  • Iceland is represented in Belarus through its embassy in Moscow and an honorary consulate in Minsk.
 Belgium
  • Belgium is represented in Iceland through its embassy in Oslo and an honorary consulate in Reykjavík.[63]
  • Iceland has an embassy in Brussels.[64]
 Bulgaria
  • Iceland is represented in Bulgaria through its embassy in Copenhagen and an honorary consulate in Sofia.
 Croatia 1992

Both countries established diplomatic relations on 6 June 1992.[65][66]

 Cyprus
  • Cyprus is represented in Iceland by its embassy in Copenhagen, Denmark.[67]
  • Iceland is represented in Cyprus by its embassy in Stockholm, Sweden.[68]
 Czech Republic 1993-01-01 See 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.
 Denmark 1918 See 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.

 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.
 Finland See Finland–Iceland relations
  • Finland has an embassy in Reykjavík.[71]
  • Iceland has an embassy in Helsinki.[72]
 France See France–Iceland relations
  • France has an embassy in Reykjavík.[73]
  • Iceland has an embassy in Paris.[74]
 Germany See Foreign relations of Germany
  • Iceland has an embassy in Berlin.[75]
  • Germany has an embassy in Reykjavík.[76]
  • Both countries are NATO members.
 Greece See Greece–Iceland 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.
 Hungary

Hungary is represented in Iceland by its embassy in Oslo, Norway.[77]

 Ireland 11 March 1948 See Iceland–Ireland relations
  • Iceland is represented in Ireland through its embassy in London (United Kingdom) and through an honorary consulate in Dublin.[78]
  • Ireland is represented in Iceland through its embassy in Copenhagen (Denmark) and through an honorary consulate in Garðabær.[79]
  • Both countries are full members of Council of Europe.
 Italy 1945
 Latvia 1991-08-22 See 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.
 Lithuania 1991-08-05
 Malta 3 July 1998

Both countries established diplomatic relations on 3 July 1998.[86]

 Moldova 1995

Both countries established diplomatic relations on 17 May 1995.[87]

 Montenegro 2006

Both countries established diplomatic relations on 26 September 2006.[88]

 Netherlands
  • Iceland is represented in the Netherlands by its embassy in Oslo, Norway.[89]
  • The Netherlands is represented in Iceland by its embassy in Brussels, Belgium.[90]
 North Macedonia
 Norway See Iceland–Norway relations
  • Iceland has an embassy in Oslo.[94]
  • Norway has an embassy in Reykjavík.[95]
 Poland January 1946 See Iceland–Poland relations
  • Iceland is accred to Poland from its embassy in Berlin, Germany.[96]
  • Poland has an embassy in Reykjavík.[97]
 Romania
  • Iceland is represented in Romania through its embassy in Copenhagen and an honorary consulate in Bucharest.
 Russia See Iceland–Russia relations
  • Iceland has an embassy in Moscow.[98]
  • Russia has an embassy in Reykjavík.[99]
  • Both countries have close ties in financing, which has strengthened the relations between the two.[100] 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.[101]
 Serbia 2000
  • Both countries have established diplomatic relations in 2000.[102]
  • A number of bilateral agreements have been concluded and are in force between both countries.[103]
 Spain
  • Iceland is accred to Spain from its embassy in Paris, France.
  • Spain is accred to Iceland from its embassy in Oslo, Norway.
 Sweden See Iceland–Sweden relations
  • The governments of Iceland and Sweden signed on 23 March 1921 a joint declaration for the protection of trade marks.[104]
  • Iceland has an embassy in Stockholm.[105]
  • Sweden has an embassy in Reykjavík.[106]
  Switzerland
  • Iceland has an embassy in Geneva (which is accred to Switzerland and to the United Nations).
  • Switzerland is represented in Iceland through its embassy in Oslo and through an honorary consulate in Reykjavík
  • Both countries are members of Council of Europe and the European Free Trade Association.
 Ukraine 1992
 United Kingdom See Iceland–United Kingdom relations
  • Iceland has an embassy in London.[108]
  • United Kingdom has an embassy in Reykjavík.[109]

Oceania[]

Country Formal Relations Began Notes
 Australia
  • Australia is accred to Iceland from its embassy in Copenhagen, Denmark.
  • Iceland is accred to Australia from its embassy in Beijing, China.
 Marshall Islands 25 January 1993

Both countries established diplomatic relations on 25 January 1993.[110]

 Micronesia 2004

Both countries established diplomatic relations on 27 September 2004.[111]

 New Zealand
  • Iceland is accred to New Zealand from its embassy in Beijing, China and maintains honorary consulates in Auckland and Nelson.[112]
  • New Zealand is accred to Iceland from its embassy in The Hague, Netherlands.
 Samoa 2004

Both countries established diplomatic relations on 15 October 2004.[113]

See also[]

References[]

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Further reading[]

External links[]

Foreign representations in Iceland