Increased cooperation on Arctic affairs between Iceland and France
France and Iceland have agreed to reinforce their cooperation on arctic matters. This was discussed at a meeting today in Paris between Össur Skarphédinsson, Icelandic Minister for Foreign Affairs, and Alain Juppé, Minister for Foreign and European Affairs of France. The cooperation entails that Icelandic scientists will be invited to French research stations in Svalbard and Antarctica while French experts will be welcomed as guest lecturers at the University of Akureyri, Iceland, as part of an extended collaboration between the University of Akureyri and the Institute Curie in Paris. Furthermore, Icelandic scientists will be invited to participate in a project on economic and social effects of climate change in the high north, and a joint symposium on the governance of the Arctic will be organised in the autumn in Paris in cooperation with the OECD. Foreign Minister Skarphédinsson also met with Mr. Michel Rocard, French Ambassador for the Arctic and Antarctica.
Minister Skarphédinsson informed his French colleague about the Icelandic economic recovery since the financial crisis of autumn 2008 and thanked France for their support of the IMF programme for Iceland. The Ministers discussed possible solutions for Iceland with regard to future monetary policy. The French Minister expressed the view that joining the EMU and adopting the Euro would be the best solution for Iceland, in particular after the implementation of recent measures within the Euro zone.
Minister Skarphédinsson gave an overview of the negotiations between Iceland and the European Union and explained how fisheries are not only of vital importance for the Icelandic economy but also a key element in the traditional Icelandic way of life. It is the firm desire of the Icelandic side to commence negotiations on fisheries issues as soon as possible. Minister Juppé stated that the negotiations have so far advanced well and expressed his willingness to open difficult chapters. He said he was convinced that acceptable solutions would be found.