|In an official lunch with foreign diplomats, Icelandic President Olafur Ragnar Grimsson shocked neighboring Nordic countries with inviting Russia to take use of the strategically important airbase.
Foreign diplomats hardly believed what they heard when the Icelandic president said that his country needs “new friends” and that Russia should be invited to take use of the old U.S. airbase of Keflavik.
In the lunch which took place in Reykjavik last Friday, Mr. Grimsson accused neighboring countries of failing to support the crisis-ridden Iceland, newspaper Dagbladet reports with reference to Klassekampen.
An internal memo from the Norwegian Foreign Ministry, obtained by the newspaper, describes the diplomats present in the event as “shocked” by the speech.
-The North Atlantic is important for the Nordic countries, the USA and the UK. That is a fact which these countries seem to ignore, the president said, adding that “Iceland should rather make new friends”.
According to Dagbladet, the Russian ambassador present at the lunch was rather perplexed by the invitation, saying that “Russia does not really need the airport”.
The Icelandic president has no formal powers over foreign policy issues.
Iceland does not have its own armed forces, and has been dependent on military cooperation with NATO allies. The USA in 2006 closed down its air base at Keflavik, and Iceland has since been practically without air force support.