Iceland's Foreign Minister in his own world

Foreign Minister Össur Skarphéðinsson said yesterday in an interview with Mbl.is, the website of the Icelandic newspaper Morgunblaðið, that he thought that support for his government's application to join the European Union had increased among Icelandic MPs. Ask what evidence he had for his claim he said he knew the parliament. Skarphéðinsson's Social Democratic Alliance is the senior partner in Iceland's current coalition government and the country's only pro-EU political party.

Today Mbl.is has asked leading people from the other political parties represented in the Icelandic parliament, Althingi, if their think support for EU membership has increased among their MPs. They all agree that they haven't sensed anything of that sort but on the contrary that there is a rising scepticism among them. This includes the chairman of the Left Greens, the junior coalition partner. It is safe to say that Skaphéðinsson's comments have amazed people in Iceland as no one recognises them to be true. Not even MPs in his own party find them in the position of being able to back up his comments.

Skarphéðinsson has been travelling to various EU countries this summer speaking with leading people about his government's EU application and has probably been giving them a wrong picture of the situation in Iceland including the claim that support has been increasing for EU membership among the country's MPs. The only plauseble reason why the Foreign Minister is putting forward this claim must be an attempt to calm Brussels over the little support joining the EU has in Iceland.

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