The footballing heroes of the last European Championship and close friends of Germany: Foreign Minister Gabriel enthused about Island as he received his Icelandic counterpart Gudlaugur Thór Thórdarson in Berlin on Thursday (6 April).
“Anyone who wants to know who the Icelanders are should remember the last European Championship,” Foreign Minister Gabriel joked. Gabriel called Iceland a “strong and great country” of only 330,000 inhabitants, which made it into the quarter‑finals of the tournament.
Bilateral relations with Germany have a long history and rest on a broad foundation, in political, economic and cultural affairs.
Cooperation in economic affairs and in the Council of the Baltic Sea States
Gabriel stressed that the meeting with his Icelandic counterpart Gudlaugur Thór Thórdarson was a “particularly nice visit” for this reason. German‑Icelandic relations are to be further enhanced, above all in the economic and political spheres. Numerous projects are already being implemented by the two countries, including, for example, the construction of a deep‑water harbour in Iceland with German support.
Politically, the two countries not only have their membership of NATO in common. They also work together in the Council of the Baltic Sea States (CBSS) which provides a forum for intensive dialogue and exchange. Iceland holds the CBSS Presidency this year. In June it is to host a meeting of the foreign ministers of the CBSS members, which Russia will attend.
Tourism as an economic factor
Iceland is a popular destination for German tourists. Tourism is one of the strongest economic sectors in Iceland, and German tourists are the third largest group by country of origin. “We are two countries that are good friends,” Gabriel concluded succinctly.