The Icelandic delegation went to London and Den Haag last week for renewed talks in an effort to avoid the Icesave referendum scheduled for 6 March. They talked and talked, then came back and talked some more. Predictably, very little was revealed about the nature or outcome of the talks [quelle surprise!] although a few people mumbled something about “fiddling with the interest rate.”
A day or two after their return, it was revealed that the UK and Holland had made a counter-offer to Iceland’s offer last week. What exactly this consisted of is about as murky as everything else surrounding THE BLOB, although Fréttablaðið quotes Wouter Bos, outgoing Finance Minister in Holland [they now have their own collapsed government], as saying it required Iceland to accept the following:
~ Full repayment of the loan
~ Fair compensation due to cost of the loan [interest]
~ Political unity in Iceland and the support of the President
~ That a simple solution be found [HA!] and for talks to proceed at a brisk pace
Hm. This was allegedly what they were discussing last week, but Sigmundur Davíð Gunnlaugsson [head of the Progressives] claims that the counter-offer sharply contradicts the terms being discussed then, which means that the above would NOT be included in the counter-offer. [Confused yet? Ready to have yourself committed to a padded cell wearing a straitjacket and gown open in the back? – You’re not alone.]
At least one of the above terms has been met, though, namely that there IS political unity in Iceland — to reject the mysterious counter-offer. This was done last night. On that occasion the Icelanders also proposed another round of talks.
Eyjan reports this morning that Dutch officials insist that Icelanders must agree to the fundamental criteria in their latest offer [the ones nobody knows about except a small handful of officials] — otherwise there will be no talks.
Meanwhile, Iceland’s Foreign Minister Össur Skarphéðinsson has requested a meeting with Hillary Clinton to discuss the International Monetary Fund’s refusal to continue with Iceland’s aid package unless Icesave is resolved.
This morning I spoke to a 75-year old gentleman who was fierce in his opposition to the Icesave bill. “We’re all heading back to the turf houses anyway, whether or not we accept Icesave. Under no circumstances should we pay.”
The outcome of the referendum next week? Not that hard to predict.