Monday, September 30, 2013
Friday, September 27, 2013
We had the pleasure of paying a visit to Ólafur Helgi Kjartansson, the District Commissioner (Sýslumaður) with the seat in Selfoss (South Iceland). This is a very important position in the Icelandic legal system as the incumbent has a broad range of civilian and law enforcement areas. Our Embassy deals with this office mostly on consular affairs. We are grateful for the support this office provides to American citizens.
Thursday, September 26, 2013
Wednesday, September 25, 2013
Tuesday, September 24, 2013
We had the pleasure of meeting Ingvar Björn Þorsteinsson, a creative Icelandic artist that wants to put together the World's Largest Artwork. He devised an app using social media to ask people to contribute a brush stroke. The project will last for 66 days in celebration of the 66th anniversary of UNICEF. At the end of the project, the art piece will be auctioned with proceeds going to UNICEF. The current record for participatory art is 201,948 artists, and Ingvar Björn wants to break it for a great cause.
Monday, September 23, 2013
Thursday, September 19, 2013
This week we welcomed the opportunity to address a NASDAQ-hosted semi-annual conference which brings up to 100 financial market experts from all over the world to share best practices in regulating exchanges. We had a chance to lay out our perspective on the Icelandic economy and the opportunity it presents for NASDAQ OMX to increase the capitalization of Icelandic firms. NASDAQ is an excellent vehicle to support Iceland’s economic recovery.
Friday, September 13, 2013
We attended the closing of the working group meeting organizing the Ice Circle Initiative, which brings together a group of NGOs led by Iceland’s Vox Naturae, governments, the World Bank, and other multilateral organizations. The Ice Circle is focusing on mobilizing international public awareness and policymakers to address the disappearing ice and shifting snow cover due to climate change. It is quite sobering to know that ice and snow today account for up to one-third of the planet’s total land surface and are crucial to ecosystems.
Thursday, September 12, 2013
I have observed with interest the public debate in Iceland about the crisis in Syria and it seems that, on balance, Icelanders and Americans are grappling with many of the same dilemmas: How to stop the slaughter of innocent civilians by the Assad regime without causing further suffering? How to stop the use of chemical weapons by a regime that until recently had never acknowledged having them? How to test whether Assad is serious about turning his chemical weapons over to the international community? Should U.S. efforts to build an international consensus be supported? These are all valid questions that need to be addressed carefully. In doing so, I would urge Icelanders to examine the path taken by President Obama and to think about the case that President Obama made to the American people last night. Click to watch the Presidents remarks. He closed his remarks with this: “America is not the world’s policeman. Terrible things happen across the globe, and it is beyond our means to right every wrong. But when, with modest effort and risk, we can stop children from being gassed to death, and thereby make our own children safer over the long run, I believe we should act. That’s what makes America different. That’s what makes us exceptional. With humility, but with resolve, let us never lose sight of that essential truth.”
Tuesday, September 10, 2013
Monday, September 9, 2013
Wednesday, September 4, 2013
This weekend Mary and I had the honor of participating in a dinner with the Board of the Leifur Eiríksson Foundation; we also met a group of outstanding American and Icelandic students who have benefitted from the Foundation’s scholarship program. The Foundation was established on the occasion that marked the millennium since Leifur Eiríksson’s voyage to Vínland (currently known as North America). The Icelandic Central Bank and the U.S. Congress partnered to mint silver coins to commemorate the event. Proceeds from the sale of those coins were used to establish the Leifur Eiríksson Foundation and its fund for educational exchanges. Since 2001, more than students from the United States and Iceland have received scholarships to attend each other’s universities to pursue graduate studies in a broad range of fields. While the sale of the coins provided the basis for this fund, its ongoing ability to expand its excellent work relies on the generosity of American and Icelandic individuals, organizations and corporations that believe in the power of educational exchange to change lives and build connections between our nations. This is another example of how deep and important the ties between our countries really are.