Keep Us Strong WikiLeaks logo

Currently released so far... 2497 / 251,287

Articles

Browse latest releases

Browse by creation date

Browse by origin

A B C D F G H I J K L M N O P Q R S T U V W Y Z

Browse by tag

A B C D E F G H I J K L M N O P Q R S T U V W X Y Z
QA
YE YM YI

Browse by classification

Community resources

courage is contagious

Viewing cable 09REYKJAVIK68, ICELANDIC INTERIM MINISTER OF FINANCE AND FISHERIES

If you are new to these pages, please read an introduction on the structure of a cable as well as how to discuss them with others. See also the FAQs

Understanding cables
Every cable message consists of three parts:
  • The top box shows each cables unique reference number, when and by whom it originally was sent, and what its initial classification was.
  • The middle box contains the header information that is associated with the cable. It includes information about the receiver(s) as well as a general subject.
  • The bottom box presents the body of the cable. The opening can contain a more specific subject, references to other cables (browse by origin to find them) or additional comment. This is followed by the main contents of the cable: a summary, a collection of specific topics and a comment section.
To understand the justification used for the classification of each cable, please use this WikiSource article as reference.

Discussing cables
If you find meaningful or important information in a cable, please link directly to its unique reference number. Linking to a specific paragraph in the body of a cable is also possible by copying the appropriate link (to be found at theparagraph symbol). Please mark messages for social networking services like Twitter with the hash tags #cablegate and a hash containing the reference ID e.g. #09REYKJAVIK68.
Reference ID Created Released Classification Origin
09REYKJAVIK68 2009-04-07 18:06 2011-01-13 05:05 CONFIDENTIAL Embassy Reykjavik
VZCZCXRO1877
OO RUEHDBU RUEHFL RUEHKW RUEHLA RUEHNP RUEHROV RUEHSR
DE RUEHRK #0068/01 0971805
ZNY CCCCC ZZH
O 071805Z APR 09
FM AMEMBASSY REYKJAVIK
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC IMMEDIATE 4040
INFO RUEHZL/EUROPEAN POLITICAL COLLECTIVE
RUCPDOC/DEPT OF COMMERCE WASHDC
RUEATRS/DEPT OF TREASURY WASHINGTON DC
C O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 01 OF 02 REYKJAVIK 000068 
 
SIPDIS 
 
State for EUR/NB and OES/OA 
Commerce for NMFS WHogarth 
Treasury for Eric Meyer and Larry Norton 
 
E.O. 12958: DECL: 04/06/2019 
TAGS: ECON EFIN SENV EFIS PGOV IC
SUBJECT: ICELANDIC INTERIM MINISTER OF FINANCE AND FISHERIES 
CONFIDENT ON IMF PROGRESS AND ICESAVE NEGOTIATIONS 
 
Classified By: Ambassador Carol van Voorst for reasons 1.4 (b) and 
(d). 
 
1. (C) Summary: During the Ambassador's farewell call, a tired 
looking and clearly over-worked Steingrimur J. Sigfusson was 
confident about the upcoming elections, happy with the progress with 
the IMF, and encouraged by Iceland's negotiating position with the 
IceSave accounts.  Sigfusson's roles as Minister of Finance, Minister 
of Fisheries and Agriculture, Deputy Prime Minister, and Leader of 
the Left Green Party generated an expansive and wide ranging 
conversation.  If his party participates in the new government, 
Sigfusson said that progress with IMF will continue on the new Letter 
of Intent, Iceland will press harder for favorable loan terms from 
the U.K. and the Netherlands on IceSave, and the commercial whaling 
quotas will be reduced in the future.  Sigfusson also said he was 
considering seeking bilateral loans from the U.S. and Canada (the 
Ambassador explained why he should not look to the U.S.) and believes 
that Iceland is unlikely to seek E.U. membership any time soon.  End 
Summary. 
 
2. (C) During the April 7 office call, Sigfusson confessed to the 
Ambassador that he is extremely busy in his multiple roles of 
Minister of Finance, Minister of Fisheries and Agriculture, Head of 
the Left Green Party and Deputy Prime Minister.  He said that he 
would be surprised if there were any big changes in the polls in the 
last few weeks before elections, and barring some significant event, 
he expected the interim government to return to office. 
 
3. (C) Sigfusson admitted that he was never a proponent of an 
International Monetary Fund (IMF) loan for Iceland and felt that a 
better option would have been to seek a Nordic-EFTA package of loans. 
 Sigfusson said he put a lot of work into that idea in November 
(while he was in opposition) but was stymied by the former 
government.  He commented that a recent rise in public sentiment to 
abandon the IMF obligations is being fueled "by the news from 
Latvia."  However, as a minister, he recognized that it is very 
important that the IMF program continue and he emphasized that the 
IMF representatives he has met have been professional and helpful. 
He said work was being finalized now with IMF in Washington on a new 
agreement to be completed soon after Easter, which will then be 
presented to the IMF Board for consideration.  Sigfusson said Iceland 
has missed the annual meeting deadline but hopes the board will meet 
in early May. 
 
4. (C) On IceSave, Sigfusson felt the recent U.K. Parliamentary 
report which criticized the U.K. government use of terrorism finance 
laws against Iceland and Icelandic banks in October 2008 puts Iceland 
in a stronger negotiating position.  Sigfusson said the report was 
harsh, and to his mind depicts Chancellor of the Exchequer Alistair 
Darling as lying about why the terrorism act had to be invoked. 
Sigfusson cited the recent meeting between Foreign Minister Ossur 
Skarphedinsson and British Secretary David Miliband and his own 
recent correspondence with Dutch authorities as helpful in keeping 
communications open.  He said that the Icelanders are also giving the 
U.K. and the Netherlands updated information on the overall debt 
situation, which looks worse than it did in October/November.  He 
said at that time the IMF predicted debt as 160 to 170 percent of 
GDP, but those figures have now been revised to 200 to 225 percent of 
GDP.  Sigfusson said the Icelandic people "are prepared to honor 
their obligations," but to pay for the aggressive and speculative 
"behavior abroad is unjust and unfair."  Sigufsson stressed that the 
terms of the loans to cover the IceSave minimum deposits are 
essential -- it's very important that Iceland receive low rates with 
a long grace period. 
 
5. (C) On whaling, Sigfusson reiterated that his hands were legally 
tied by the decision of his predecessor and that he has made it known 
that if the interim government returns after the election, it will 
work to undo future commercial whaling.  Sigfusson confirmed he had 
received the letter from Whole Foods grocery store, warning that it 
will find substitutes for Icelandic products if whaling continues, 
but did not seem to take it seriously.  He admitted that he had 
received a stack of similar letters but hadn't read them all.  The 
impression he left was that he is looking forward to handing the 
Fisheries portfolio to someone else in the next government. 
 
6. (C) Sigfusson said he wants greater cooperation with the U.S.  He 
especially wants to talk with the U.S. and Canadian governments about 
bilateral loans to Iceland.  The Ambassador clarified the lack of a 
mechanism or legislative authority in the U.S. for such loans to 
advanced nations.  He commented that the loan Russia promised would 
probably not happen because the Russians have not shown much real 
interest and are seeking additional information from Iceland. 
Sigfusson, who is an opponent of joining the E.U., gamed out for us 
that regardless of who wins the parliamentary elections, the Althingi 
is likely to be largely anti-Icelandic accession to the E.U.  He 
 
REYKJAVIK 00000068  002 OF 002 
 
 
remarked that the Independence Party copied his party's platform and 
they too are not pro-EU but would let the public decide the issue in 
a public referendum if it came to that stage.  He thinks EU accession 
is doubtful in the near future. 
 
 
van Voorst