Monday, October 20, 2008

Team Iceland !!!

When Brad Pitt and Jennifer Aniston got divorced, people did split in 2 teams....Team Jolie (the newly girlfriend of Brad) and team Aniston (the poor left over girlfriend..that is by the way apparently still grieving.... :-).
Today with the crisis, there is 2 new teams..Team Iceland and team Rest of the world... Today´s post is dedicated to common heroes from team Iceland. (which i am a proud active member)

Last Saturday i went to a meeting. Some kind of meeting that you could only see in Iceland. Due to the economical situation, Iceland is looking for new ways to renew and regenerate itself. the meeting was organized for young people and student by the innovation centre of Iceland. The goal of the meeting was to try to find new ideas of business for Iceland, in order to first stop the crisis, second, take advantage of the situation, and finally to re-boost the Icelandic economy.

During the first part of the meeting, several personalities made speeches. Among them were the President of Iceland, Ólafur Ragnar Grímsson (on the left on the picture), Björk (in the center) and Magnus Schieving aka Sportacus aka Íþróttaálfurinn for those speaking Icelandic (On the right on the picture). Don´t tell me you do not know him !! If you do not know him click on this link . If after clicking on the link you still don´t know who he is i think you have so kind of problems and should reconsider your own diet: Sportacus is the main character of Lazy Town a "healty" tv show for children, that promote healthy diet and encourage kids to have outside activities instead of staying inside watching tv for example. ( i know this is kind of illogical...asking kid who watch tv to not watch it through a TV show...No wonder the Icelandic economy is not doing so well...) Click on this link to have more info on the show.

Back to the meeting. The speech they made was quite nice and cut out the negativist waves about Iceland (both from local and international). For the first time in few weeks there was no crazy Icelandic "let´s all live in a collective farm, let our hairs grow and eat only organic potatoes" economists, no "media whore" (sorry:-) like international economist pointing out the cruality the Icelandic economy/society and its actual hopelessness , no "They [the Icelanders] are all gonna die poor once upon i have been in Iceland for 2 weeks" tourist and most no sensationalist hatefull foreign journalists... The meeting was just nice of nice and realist people. The President of Iceland open the meeting with a nice speeches framing the goal of the meeting and re-placing the situation of Iceland in its context. He also once again repeated that Iceland was a small state, and that the country is having problems like many other small states (Iceland has been networking for quite sometimes with other small state and Ólafur Ragnar Grímsson has been a very active actor in this network). He also called for calm and responsibility. Once his official speech finished, Björk, a well know Icelandic singer (do i need to explain who is she?) her talked about sustainable development and for once was not in some kind of idealist delirium crisis "let´s all live in trees" (there is No trees in Iceland)...If i wanted to be mean i would say that she was probably sober and clean... but it would be too mean...finally Sportacus electrified the room. He was the best one... He explained clearly that this crisis times are not more different than the one before and that tomorow will still be uncertain... crisis or not crisis.

None of them denied the fact that we are facing a huge problem, that the situation might not be easy for a couple of year, but they all told us that we should have faith and look up and be proud. I think that Iceland need to hear that kind of discourse. We Icelanders have been for the last couple of week only hearing bad stuff about us and the nation need a small boost. Media, and especially British ones are the responsible for this situation. The race for sensationalism killed the information and i do think that journalism died the day some newspaper titled that it was hunger riots in Iceland and that people were fighting for Olive oil. The only riot that i took part in during the last couple of weeks, was the exceptional autumn sold in the biggest shopping mall of Iceland. I did fight for a pair of shoes.

The situation in Iceland is not that bad. Everyday we are getting better. Even if i am not a great political fan of Iceland´s actual leaders, i do think that they are doing the right thing. (taking control of the bank, financially cleaning them and getting rid of the "rotten" assets). We are gonna be fine. The IMF thinks that in 2 years we will be back to the situation of before the crisis. Meanwhile, unemployment has raised a bit and a strong inflation is on its way. The Icelandic króna has been more or less stabilized but is still strongly devaluated. Economically we will be fine. I am not worried at all for Iceland. We are a small country and we will be able to stand up again very soon. Meanwhile, we might loose some points in the GHP tables, but who cares we have fresh water, Björk and Sportacus... :-)

I am a bit more concerned about the political situation. Locally, this is gonna have huge consequences and especially if the director of the central bank of Iceland, Davið Oddsson, a former Prime Minister, leader of the independence party keep steering the Icelandic economic as he is doing now. He is getting more and more unpopular and many people both inside and outside the country (many people protested against him last Saturday). I think that Davið Oddson is working on his own interest and have an hidden agenda on the matter. I am sure that he is not gonna last long and that once the crisis will be over, the Party of Independence , his political will blow up in pieces. There is too many people in this party only working for their own interest. Internationally, i think that the crisis will have tough many things to Iceland. First of all, we as a nation are not prepared at all to deal with a media waves, and we do need a good PR to give the right information, second we found out who were really our friends and the British are not one of them, neither the European Union. Some countries have been taking advantage of the situation. As i have mentioned.. the British are not our friends any more ...have they been one day ? i do wonder...They froze our assets in UK forcing the Icelandic Government to take control of the biggest bank of the country. In order to froze our assets they used an anti-terrorist law voted after the September 11th, making Iceland one of the kind terrorist country in Europe and in the NATO organisation.(just for information, we do not have any army. Our policemen are not armed...). This is gonna have huge consequences.

Many people here want Iceland to press charges against UK, because the action was not justified at all and even Iceland´s Prime Minister Geir Haarde explained it in a press conference, that Iceland will not yet respond to this, but reminded that many countries will have taken extremely badly... to not say that this could have been a war declaration. Some UK journalist pointed out that the Government of Gordon Brown used the oldest trick in the world to hide the situation in UK, and that Iceland have been used has a bait. This is true that the situation of Icelandic bank in the UK was not pretty, but there was no reason for freezing our assets. There is the IceSave matter that burn between the 2 countries. Iceland is supposed to cover a certain amounts of the savings of people (like other banks do / did), but it never seemed to be enough for the British Government. (Same case in Netherlands/Luxembourg/Germany and this is going well, Governments have found ways to solve the problem).

The terrorist situation of Iceland is probably cost a lot to British tax payers. By freezing the assets, Uk´s Government has made Iceland lost billions and We do want to have those billions back :-). On the politic scale, this is starting to make wrinkle. As Iceland do not have army, there is some agreement between NATO´s member to protect Iceland the one after the other. Currently, this is France who is protecting Iceland and it should the UK very soon. How a country that consider Iceland as an enemy, could come to our Land and pretend to protect ourselves? The matter is currently being discuss among NATO members and UK does not seems to pull its point of view back.

On the European level this is going also to have consequences. Iceland is more or less bound to join the Union. This will have consequences during the process of adhesion and after. How to discuss with countries that classified Iceland as a terrorist country ? One other thing cross my mind..Why do "big" European countries do not support Iceland during the crisis and that we are eventually obliged to ask for a loan to Russia ? I have my own idea on it. I do think that European countries, especially France and UK want to have a weak Iceland coming to the European Union. Until recently, because of its wealth, Iceland could have negotiated anything when entering the Union. Anything such as the fishing areas (which has been by the past a burning subject. Anyone remember the Cod War between UK and Iceland ?). Iceland is one of the biggest exporter of fish in Europe and especially in the UK ( worth 400 millions pounds every year !!!). Having a weak Iceland will not allow the country to negotiate the fishing areas and we will have eventually to open them to foreign boats (Fishing represent more or less 27% of the Icelandic Economy). Some might say i am paranoid but i do think that there is a political agenda behind the no-reaction of European Governments and that those Governments have a lot to gain from a weak Iceland.

Anyway....Iceland is gonna be fine and as a proud member of team Iceland, i submitted some of my ideas during the meeting. I kind of hope that they will be taken in consideration. In any case i do think that with a shock team composed of the Icelandic President, Björk and Sportacus...How many countries do have Sportacus ?

We will be fine...We hear all time that Youth is suppose to be future...Youth has talked on Saturday and apparently Youth has been heard...How many countries during this crisis have done the same ? How many countries invited its youth population to come, to talk and give ideas and thoughts about the future ? that why we are strong and will come up even more stronger after this crisis...



My Life In Montreal said...

Unfortunately, I do not know last person in the picture. I don't even watch TV.

I'm not an economic expert, but how about boosting Icelandic tourism? Valcanoes, Blue Lagoons...etc. Make Iceland more appealing and a great place to visit.

Will this work?

Virgile said...

We have more or less max out the Tourist buiseness. It will increase again a bit, but there is only a certain amount of tourist that Iceland could receive. Iceland is also not appealing to everyone. (a bit chilly over there).
There is hope and we are following few leads.

My Life In Montreal said...

I would love to visit Iceland one day. So much to see!

Virgile said...

Do it while it´s still cheap :-)

babooshka said...

Is there an economy left in Iceland? I think Bjork is the most familiar face, Fantastic woman

Virgile said...

There is plenty of economy left in Iceland...As i have said before the gouvernement refuses to inject money in a system that is bound to sink. They are cleaning the system. The IMF is going to give us a loan to strengthen the Króna. Not everything is bad. Fish is doing good and last year we have exported millions of tonnes of it to the UK. Iceland decided to rise the price of the export :-) We need money !

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