So, Icesave talks between Iceland and the UK/Holland broke down this evening. The Brits accuse the Icelanders of walking out, as per this report from Channel 4 in the UK, which quotes a Treasury spokesman:
The UK and Dutch Governments are disappointed that despite their best efforts over the past year and a half that the Icelandic Government is still unable to accept our best offer on the Icesave loan.We have consistently supported Iceland’s economic recovery and our latest proposal built upon this, offering the Icelandic Government the same interest rate as their current loan from the Nordic countries and, in addition, an offer to waive interest for the first two years amounting to 450 million Euros.
Meanwhile, the Ministry of Finance sent out a generic press release, to wit:
The Government of Iceland today announced that the latest round of talks with the Netherlands and the United Kingdom regarding the Icesave matter have adjourned without a final resolution. Representatives of the three Governments have been meeting in London for the last two weeks.
Icelandic voters will go to the polls on March 6, 2010 to vote on whether to approve the terms of an Icesave deal negotiated with the British and Dutch Governments last summer. The law approving that earlier deal was put to a referendum by Iceland´s President, Ólafur Ragnar Grímsson, on January 5, 2010.
“We had hoped to be able to reach a consensual resolution of this issue on improved terms”, said Steingrímur J. Sigfússon, Iceland´s [God how it annoys me that Icelanders can never get those apostrophes right] Minister of Finance, “but this has not as yet been possible. Constructive proposals were made by both sides during these talks, but significant differences remain. We will now consult with our negociating [sic] team once they are back in Iceland.”
As if the Icesave debacle wasn’t a farce already, it is now so far out that even freaking NASA couldn’t get there. Consider: in nine days’ time we – the Icelandic nation – will face a referendum to decide whether to pass a bill that is worse than a solution that has since been proposed. A bill that is already old news because during the round of talks a couple of weeks ago, the UK/Holland proposed a solution that was marginally better than the one we are voting on.
Is this insane, or what? OF COURSE that bill is going to be voted down. Why would ANYONE in their right mind vote in favour of a bill when they already know that a better deal can be had?
And yet, there is no other bill on the table, so there is nothing else to vote on. But the referendum cannot be pulled because the president promised it to the people, all in the name of this direct democracy that we Icelanders supposedly have in spades.
That referendum is a big fat waste of time and money. It’s going to get voted down — and then what? The Channel 4 report has a link to a leaked document – “a legal opinion written by experts from the European Central Bank, and the European Commission, and seen by Channel 4 news [that] backs the UK and Netherlands position against Iceland.” [They’re pulling out the ammunition now, clearly.]
So will the UK/Holland continue to wield their influence within the IMF and the EU to get Iceland blacklisted? Will there be sanctions against us? Is it back to the turf farms, then?
Interesting times ahead, people. Interesting times ahead.