Reopening of the Bilateral Icelandic Embassy in Vienna

PeopleDiplomats ♦ Published: September 19, 2022; 20:59 ♦ (Vindobona)

As a part of the reopening of the bilateral Icelandic Embassy in Vienna, Foreign Minister Alexander Schallenberg met with his Icelandic counterpart Thórdís Kolbrún Reykfjörd Gylfadóttir. Aside from bilateral issues, Iceland's upcoming presidency of the Council of Europe and the security situation in Europe were also discussed.

Iceland's Foreign Minister Thórdís Kolbrún Reykfjörd Gylfadóttir (l.) and Austria's Foreign Minister Alexander Schallenberg (r.). / Picture: © BMEIA Bundesministerium für Europa, Integration und Äußeres / Gruber / Flickr Attribution 2.0 Generic (CC BY 2.0)

Iceland's Foreign Minister Thórdís Kolbrún Reykfjörd Gylfadóttir is in Vienna in part because the Icelandic Embassy in Vienna has now been restored to the status of a bilateral embassy under a new presidential decree on embassies, standing committees at international organizations and consulates. She will also attend the opening reception of an exhibition of works by sixteen Icelandic artists at the Ambassador's Residence. Iceland's ambassador to Austria is Kristín A. Árnadóttir.

"It's good to be back in Vienna," says Þórdís Kolbrún, who herself was an exchange student in Vienna from 2005-2006. "The city is sometimes called the cultural capital of Europe, and I think we can agree that it lives up to that name. Many Icelanders have come to Austria to study, many to study art, and it shows in Iceland's cultural and artistic life. We want to maintain and develop our cooperation and friendship."

Austrian Foreign Minister Alexander Schallenberg welcomed the decision to reopen the bilateral embassy, which was closed in 2017, to the Icelandic Foreign Minister. Foreign Minister Alexander Schallenberg expressed his delight at the reopening of the embassy and sees it as "an important sign, but most importantly, it gives Austria and Iceland an additional channel through which they can cooperate even more closely in the future."

There are further opportunities for closer cooperation through the ongoing investments in Iceland's infrastructure and energy sector. In these areas, Austrian companies have a lot of know-how from which Iceland can also benefit.

"We have discussed many issues of common interest and share a great concern about the difficult and dangerous situation created by the invasion of Ukraine by Putin's forces. European countries are facing difficult challenges and the impact of the war in Ukraine is being felt around the world. It has never been more important to work together for peace and a better future," says Þórdís Kolbrún.

Regarding the Russian war of aggression on Ukraine, Foreign Minister Alexander Schallenberg thanked Iceland for supporting the sanction and positions of the EU. Unity is Europe's strongest weapon against Russia. Regarding European security, the two also discussed the situation in the Arctic. There, close cooperation between Iceland and the EU is also essential.

Finally, Foreign Minister Alexander Schallenberg wished his counterpart all the best and much success for the presidency of the Council of Europe, which Iceland will take over in November. In this body, too, the member states must demonstrate unity against Russian aggression against the political order established after the Second World War. In addition, Foreign Minister Alexander Schallenberg expressed his hope that there will be progress regarding Kosovo's admission to the Council of Europe during Iceland's chairmanship.

BMEIA Federal Ministry for Europe Integration and Foreign Affairs

Government of Iceland