Evo da se pohvalim. Imam novu prijateljicu.
Prije desetak dana primijetila sam kako nam po kući zuji pogolema i poprilično tusta muha zunzara.
Iđe mi je na jetricu jer je posebno aktivna ujutro kad me nemilice budi.
Kako je opće poznato, muhe su ubitačno dosadne pa tako i ova moja. Zuji li ga zuji i to najčešće oko spavačeve glave. Komentare o fekalijama, molim, zadržite za sebe.
Razmotrila sam jedno munjevito umorstvo novinama, ali kvragu, muha je toliko velika da mi nije lako poduzeti taj dešperatni korak. Kao da ubijam vrapca, štajaznam... Na koncu sam odlučila prihvatiti mogućnost da Pucka - tako sam je nazvala - prezimi kod mene u stanu.
Nažalost, Pucka nije baš najpametnija među muhama. Do sada sam joj tri puta spašavala život; izvadila sam je iz kavenog soca (vidi sliku, u ovoj se šalici par minuta kasnije ugovnala do preko krila), ondak sam je iste večeri izvadila iz WC školjke gdje je plutala s nožicama na gore, a danas ujutro spašavala sam je iz sudopera, tj. još jedne kavene šalice pune vode.
Ukućanima sam zabranila da je diraju, jer je to ipak moja Pucka. Kada je dugo ne čujem i ne vidim te pomislim da je možda ipak skviknula, uvijek me iznenadi - najčešće izleti iz kante za smeće. Ne znam je li moguće da Pucka dočeka proljeće, ali kad je već tu, neka je. The more the merrier. Kad čeljad nije bijesna, kuća nije tijesna.
Moj prvorođenac Daćko-Sraćko u svom je kratkom životu svjedočio bankrotu dviju država. Uskoro dolazi u Prag, jer na Islandu više nema posla. Trećina stanovništva sprema se na ekonomsku emigraciju, ali za razliku od drugih bankrotiranih jadnika, u EU-u mogu raditi i boraviti legalno. Achtung, Achtung! Upozoravam češku naciju da smo djeca i ja sad na njihovom teritoriju!
Sretan mi rođendan!!! Iju-ju!!!
Daklem, Respekt se Kunderi odbio ispričati za uvredljiv i krajnje neprofesionalno odbavljen tekst kojim ga proglasiše odavačem Miroslava Dvoračka koji je nakon navodne Kunderine prijave 1950. zaglavio u rudnicima urana na dugogodišnjoj robiji.
Odbijanje isprike dolazi nakon što je Kundera opovrgnuo istinitost priče i zatražio ispriku bez financijske kompenzacije.
Kundera je u međuvremenu valjda odlučio poslušati Havla - ne suditi se s novinarima i gubiti dragocjene godine kojih baš i nema na raspolaganju. Kaže, radije će pisati novi roman.
Maloprije mi stiže SMS vijest da se nekolicina kolega solidarizirala s Kunderom pa mi je mam lakše...
A zašto me naljutiše Respektovci?
Nema baš nikakve veze s tim je l' mi osobno Milan Kundera drag ili manje drag - da kažem istinu: čitala sam ga toliko davno da se više i ne sjećam - morala bih neke stvari ponoviti. Stvar je u tome da je čitava priča napisana na najhuljskiji mogući način, intelektualno nepošteno, kritički nepromišljeno i da sam mrvu gluplja nego što jesam, dodala bih i politički naivno.
Povjesničar Adam Hradilek iz Instituta za istraživanje totalitarnih režima našao je u policijskim arhivima izvještaj koji tvrdi da je MK dana tog i tog došao na policiju i prijavio da je kod Ive Militke, kolegice u studentskom domu, netko ostavio kufer. Ondak su dva agenta otišla kod Ive, našli kufer koji je pripadao Dvoračku, odbjeglom pilotu koji se u Čehoslovačku vratio ilegalno kako bi vrbovao nekog desetog tipa za suradnju. Nakon toga pukla je bruka, Dvoračka skoro strijeljaše, no onda je milošću božjom završio u rudnicima.
Iva tvrdi da je Dvoračka tog jutra sasvim slučajno srela u gradu te da ju je ovaj zamolio da kod nje pričuva kufer do navečer. Dvoraček je inače bio prijatelj bivšeg Ivinog dečka, također izbjeglog pilota.
Iva je za Dvoračkov kufer rekla samo svom tadašnjem dečku, Miroslavu Dlasku.
Cijeli je život predmnijevala da je Dvoračka zapravo odao Dlask, no to je nije spriječilo da se za Dlaska uda i s njime poživi život. Svaki put kada bi ga pitala što se dogodilo s Dvoračkom, Mirek je šutio. Tek je 90-ih priznao da je o Dvoračku rekao šulkolegi Milanu Kunderi. Ondak je Dlask umro.
Iva se nije puno pitala kako to da zajedno s Dvoračkom nije najebala i ona u vremenima kada je glava letila i za puno manje stvari. Istu se stvar nije upitao ni historik Hradilek koji je po vlastitoj tvrdnji povjesničar a ne novinar pa ne postavlja ni pitanja poput: kakav je motiv imao Kundera da ode na policiju i tamo izjavi da je netko koga on ne poznaje ostavio kufer kod nekoga koga on također ne poznaje?
Naime, Hradilek i Respekt se cijelo vrijeme pozivaju na dokument! Oni imaju dokument! I taj je dokument dostatan za tvrdnju da je MK odavač koji je znajući što čini, poslao Dvoračka na 14 godina u lager!
Hradileka i Respekt ne smeta činjenica da dokument o prijavi dolazi iz visoko kontaminiranog izvora ("ne možemo sumnjati u autentičnost svakog dokumenta, kuda bi nas to dovelo?") čiju autentičnost jamči - tko? - isti jebeni Institut za istraživanje totalitarnih režima. Ne smeta ih ni okolnost da dokument nije potpisan, da nedostaje broj Kunderove osobne karte ili bilo kojeg identifikacijskog dokumenta kao ni popratni protokol. ("Mogućnost da se netko predstavio kao Kundera je minimalna, to je u to doba bilo prerizično"!). Svjedočanstva nekih drugih ljudi koji tvrde da su njihovi "cinkaroši" bili totalno drugi likovi nego oni zavedeni u oficijelnim papirima i da je riječ o maltene ustaljenoj praksi nekadašnje tajne službe koja je tako štitila identitet svojih suradnika pred običnom policijom interpretira se kao očajničko dodvoravanje Kunderi.
Ne smeta ih ni činjenica da je bivši Dlaskov kolega izjavio u novinama da mu se Dlask sam povjerio da je odao Dvoračeka pa tako imamo dva svjedoka s oprečnim izjavama - Dlaskovu udovicu i Dlaskovog frenda. Ne postavljaju pitanja ni pred hipotezom da je upravo Dlask imao motiv prijaviti Dvoračka (ljubomora na Ivinog bivšeg), plus da je u arhivima tajne službe zaveden kao aktivni agent (što možda objašnjava kako to da se Ivi nije ništa dogodilo nakon što StB u njezinoj sobi nađe kufer terorista i narodnog izdajnika).
Ne smeta ih ni činjenica da je autor teksta Adam Hradilek unuk jebenih Dlask-Militkovih koji je - naknadno se ispostavilo - baku želio "očistiti od sramote". Kako? Tako što je zajedno s Respektom skočio na prvu indiciju da je za bakinu priču odgovoran netko izvan obiteljskog kruga pa je ono što bi za historika trebala biti radna hipoteza nekritički i tendenciozno predstavio kao zaključak.
Na stranu pitanja konteksta na kojima inzistira Wall - tko je pedesetih godina bio Miroslav Dvoraček i što je svaki pošteni građanin u to doba trebao učiniti - čak da je Kundera i bio taj koji je otišao na policiju i časno komunistički prijavio da je u studentskom domu neki lik, to još ne znači da je Kundera namjerno poslao Dvoračka na robiju kako Respekt sugerira.
Smeta me ta staljinistička logika, način mišljenja ondašnjeg doba preslikan na Respekt danas, isto dogmatsko i zadrto inzistiranje na predrasudama koje pothranjuju ono što mi želimo da bude istina a ne nužno na pokušaju istine. Jebiga, Kunderu ne vole i Kundera ne voli njih, ali to ne znači da mu možeš napakovati laž i uživati u njoj kao o velikoj objavi. Ni ja nisam fan Vice Vukojevića, ali ne vjerujem da je Vukojević silovatelj samo zato što to tvrdi moralna vertikala Heni Erceg. Nepravda je zajebana zajebana zajebana stvar, ali nećeš je ispraviti novom nepravdom. Drugim riječima, ako nemamo valjane dokaze valja se pomiriti s tim da se neke stvari nikada neće razotkriti. Takva se frustracija ne rješava falsificiranjem priča koju većina naprosto želi čuti.
Ostaje pitanje kaj sad s jebenim Institutom za istraživanje totalitarnih režima? Ja sam u svakom slučaju za nastavak njegovog rada, ali prosim lepega, bavite se znanstvenim radom a ne proizvodnjom polupečenih skandala kako i kada vam to odgovara. Nisam sigurna, ali mislim da je prije pola godine-godinu u Poljskoj vođena debata o nečem sličnom pa su se ljudi poput Michnika - a njega se sigurno ne može etiketirati kao komunistu - izjasnili protiv objavljivanja dokumenata upravo iz straha od manipulacije i sličnih sranja a la Kundera.
A na Milančetu je sad da se pravda i objašnjava pred svakom budalom koja mu se nađe na putu. Isprika bi u ovakvoj situaciji bila jedina časna stvar, ali fakit, isprike nisu dio češke političke kulture.
PS. Uh, umalo zaboravih!
Jesu li učinili sve da Kunderu pred objavom teksta upoznaju s njegovim sadržajem? Poslali su mu faks putem kojeg pisac komunicira s javnošću. Kundera tvrdi da nikakav faks nije primio. Sadržaj faksa bio je otprilike sljedeći: radimo istraživanje o odavanjima u 50-im godinama, hoćete li se izjasniti o toj temi?
Kažu: "Da smo ga upoznali s pričom, on bi je sigurno opovrgnuo i bio bi na nju spreman". WTF???
Molim pogledajte sliku + članak ispod donjeg posta!
'We're left with nothing'
Sunday November 2 2008
Old people seeing their life savings going up in smoke; middle-class families unable to meet their mortgage payments; young graduates, their dreams of affluence crushed, obliged to abandon their first homes... these are the new norms in Iceland, whose people, the most hard hit until now by the world's catastrophic financial crisis, are in a state of shock. 'Like the survivors of an earthquake,' said one. 'Our 11 September,' lamented another.
Iceland, a miniature caricature of the prosperity without end the developed world seemed until recently to be enjoying, offers suddenly a frightening vision of the pit of despond into which Europe, the United States and the rest of the world's hitherto wealthy nations risk falling. With the country's foreign reserves gone, the greater part of the banking system nationalised and the country declared by the prime minister to be practically bankrupt,
Iceland is at the epicentre of a global earthquake whose impact the most crazed participant in the attack on New York's World Trade Center would not have dared to imagine.
The national trauma - ex-pressed in shame, anger, fear - comes from the clash between the vast self-satisfaction accumulated over two decades of rampaging growth and the brutal suddenness of the fall. A United Nations report earlier this year identified Iceland as the best country in the world in which to live. A survey published in serious newspapers in 2006 said that the Icelanders (who, contrary to myth, do not have a high suicide rate - it is lower than France's and Australia's) were the happiest people on earth. Today, Iceland's future is at the mercy of the International Monetary Fund, as if the country occupied not the first place in the United Nations Development Programme's latest Human Development Index rankings, but had replaced Sierra Leone in the last. In a measure of the general despair, the government has been flirting with what most Icelanders seem to view as the dire notion of accepting a big loan from Russia, whose people, according to that same survey, are the unhappiest in the world.
The criteria used by the UNDP report did not focus only on the fact that this country of 300,000 inhabitants, located in one of the most inhospitable eco-systems on the planet, had managed to achieve the sixth highest GDP per capita in the world. As I found when I went there six months ago to check up on this unlikely marvel, there remains a lot more for the Icelanders to cherish and preserve.
The quality of their public health and education systems (even the fleetingly filthy rich saw little need to use private schools or private medicine) may be equalled somewhere, but not surpassed; the state plays a decisive role in ensuring that mothers have the same access to the labour market as fathers, and this in a country that has the highest childbirth rate in Europe; an extraordinarily enlightened attitude towards divorce, in which the overwhelming priority is the welfare of the children, means that the notion of 'broken homes' is something Icelanders read about in foreign magazines; as for clean and renewable energy - hot water from the island's volcanic depths is the principal source of electricity - Iceland is a world leader; and as for a generalised love of reading and music, there is nowhere quite like it.
It was for these reasons - far more than for the hip bars and gourmet restaurants and super-cool hotels, amid plenty more visible measures of abundancy in the capital, Reykjavik - that I bought into the conclusions of the UNDP report. My work takes me all over the world and I have lived in eight countries, but never have I encountered such a concentration of open-minded, intelligent, enterprising people as I have in Iceland.
Too enterprising, as it turns out. The achievements built up over 1,000 years of human habitation on this windy, chilly island are at risk now, owing to the Viking exuberance that many had chosen to identify as the engine of the Icelandic miracle, as the reason why in half a century Iceland passed from being the poorest country in Europe to one of the richest, with zero unemployment. The president himself, Olafur Ragnar Grimsson, had boasted as recently as May, in a speech in London, that the ancestral Viking virtues immortalised in the ancient 'sagas' - the alpha-male derring-do of those fearless bands that ventured out into an unmapped world to plunder and subjugate - were the secret of 'why daring Icelander entrepreneurs are succeeding where others hesitate or fail'.
Four weeks ago, with the finance system in freefall, Grimsson underwent a heart operation. He emerged to make a TV appearance in which he begged his compatriots to forgive him for making what - he could see in retrospect - was a buffoonish spectacle of himself as head of a country now perceived globally as an ostentatious upstart, and by some (such as Gordon Brown) as a debt-defaulting pariah.
Iceland's bankers, the Viking vanguard, operated in 20 countries (this is a nation, it must be remembered, with a population barely bigger than Hull's) and had bought themselves big businesses in Britain and Denmark (not excluding, as if they were Arab sheikhs or Russian oligarchs, a London football club, West Ham). But in so doing, the national debt outstripped the country's real wealth by a factor of 12. The ties that bind the global banking system broke and the Icelandic bubble burst.
The Icelanders are divided between those who chiefly blame the government, for having deregulated the financial laws to such an extent that - short of outright piracy - anything went, and those who blame the bankers, whose extravagance the rest of the citizenry beheld in the spontaneous parties they hosted in the swankier bars of Reykjavik, swilling Ł1,000- a-bottle champagne as if it were beer.
Thorir Bergsson is among those who are inclined to blame the government, reasoning as he does that people whose business it is to do money will by their very nature stretch the boundaries of what the law allows. It is his view that it is up to the government now to come up with a solution to his pressing, and absolutely typical, dilemma.
Bergsson, 39, is a chef in what had been until now a successful restaurant in Reykjavik's equivalent of Regent Street (taking into account that Reykjavik from the outside has the feel of a Faroe Island fishing village). Today the clientele is down by 40 per cent, some employees have been let go and he himself is contemplating the prospect of accepting a reduction in his salary. His wife is an anthropologist who works for the Reykjavik city council in a department that deals with immigrants. It is a post that could cease soon to have much relevance.The foreign population, largely from Poland and the Baltic states, is beginning to dwindle, driven elsewhere by the plummeting local currency, the krona. Suddenly, as Bergsson noted, it seems highly likely that Icelanders will find themselves competing for 'the dirty hands' jobs they had imagined they would never have to touch again.
But that is not the worst of it. The worst of it is that Bergsson simply cannot pay his monthly mortgage payments, nor those of his car loan, without the four children who live with him and his wife going hungry. The couple have two small children of their own, but each has an adolescent child from a previous relationship - a state of affairs that is not only common in Iceland, it is considered entirely natural. Between the two of them they earn around 850,000 krona a month. That was worth around Ł7,000 two months ago; now it is worth less than Ł4,500, and falling.
Following their bank's advice, they had opted, as many Icelanders had done, to take out their mortgage in a 'basket' of foreign currencies. In the all-day and all-night light of summer they were making monthly payments of 160,000 krona; the next payment due, as the long black winter sets in, is for 400,000. On the car, Bergsson and his wife have to pay 60,000. 'If we then add the 36 per cent we pay in tax, we're left with practically nothing,' says Bergsson, when we meet for lunch at a city centre restaurant that is otherwise empty at 1.15pm on a Wednesday. 'This is why I am left with no option but to go to the bank and inform them that I have no intention of paying this month. Everyone is in the same boat. The whole country is on hold.'
They are waiting to see, for example, what the effect will be of a loan freshly agreed with the IMF, whether it means that the country's bare coffers will now be further replenished with money from the Russians or, as many wish (given the widespread fears that a big Russian investment might undermine Iceland's sovereign identity), from their cousins in Scandinavia. Only once a loan package is on the table will it be possible for the government to try to come up with some sort of rescue plan. 'Yet there is another thing I prefer almost not to think about,' says Bergsson, who insists that he is staying calm, though his eyes betray an air of anguish bordering on physical pain. 'Our home, in which we had invested so many dreams and so much money, is losing value with every day that passes.'
Bergsson recognises, all the same, that there are many people worse off than he is. Among them, the thousand or so young bank employees - in many cases the cream of the Icelandic education system, people with Masters degrees and doctorates from foreign universities - who have been fired in the past month, and who had bet on the good life with more rash credit-taking exuberance than he had done. 'But those that make me the saddest, because after all
I still have time to reconstruct my life, are the old people who have lost their savings.'
It has been a surprise to discover how reluctant Icelanders are (Bergsson is a rare exception) to talk about the dramas they are enduring. This is shown in the fact that when I was there, two weeks into the full-blown crisis, the Icelandic newspapers hadn't published any stories about the ordinary victims of the crash - at least, none mentioning any names. It was as if the journalists understood that Icelanders were too ashamed to look at themselves in the mirror. That was why the majority of case histories that I heard were second-hand.
Such as the one - again, entirely typical - of the father-in-law of a writer who retired on the Friday before the Monday on which his bank, Glitnir, had to be nationalised. 'He is 70 years old. He was an executive of a hydroelectric power company,' said the writer, who asked not to be named. 'Early this year the bank convinced him - as they had done many others of his age and circumstances - to transfer his life savings from a solid account that yielded interest of 14 per cent to one that yielded 20. They assured him that the move was riskier in theory, but not so in practice. The solidity of the world banking system was his guarantee, they told him. So he transferred the funds and, within barely 48 hours of his retirement, he saw how the money he had saved with a view to enjoying the last years of his life had gone forever.'
The writer, who has three small children, enjoys the good fortune of having almost paid off his mortgage. Yet he does not consider himself to be safe. On the one hand, his wife risks losing her job in an organisation which depends for its existence on the sponsorship of an Icelandic bank. On the other hand, because of the worrying economic prospects his publishers have told him they cannot afford to print three books he has written, and that they had commissioned. What is more, there are signs that the biggest book-selling chain in Iceland could go under, which could have a catastrophic effect on the biggest publisher. 'And all this,' the writer says, 'in a country where, until now, individuals have been buying more books than anywhere else!'
As for Iceland's musical tradition, the country suffered another blow to morale when it was announced two weeks ago that a planned tour of Japan by the Icelandic Symphony Orchestra had been cancelled. The organisers wrote to say that, given the crisis, it would be best if they did not come.
One way out for musicians and others able to compete internationally is to emigrate. And this is precisely the biggest fear of the dozen or so people I talked to for this article. 'If we are going to get out of this mess, if we are going to rebuild the country on a solid and enduring base, if we are going to take the essential step of diversifying our economy, what we must not see is a brain drain,' says Svafa Gronfeldt, rector of the University of Reykjavik. 'We are a survivor nation, by definition. To have managed to create a good life here has been the result of a tremendous imagination and great practical resourcefulness. Our great advantage today is that we have a lot of highly trained young people able to function in the global market. We must retain them.'
Thorir Bergsson is not a typical case in the sense that he is a chef (though one of the many symptoms of the Icelandic success story has been an abundance of excellent restaurants in the capital), but he does reflect the attitude of many others who share his option of finding employment abroad. 'We don't want to go, even though my wife and I both know that we could get jobs elsewhere,' he says. 'But it would be terrible if people of my generation were to abandon ship now. Although, of course, if the welfare of our children is at risk, our idealism won't last for ever.'
Dagur Eggertsson, ex-mayor of Reykjavik and a doctor by training, says that the trauma the country is undergoing intensifies, especially in the case of the older people who have lost their savings, at the prospect of the best and the brightest leaving.
'It's not only that it would cost us so much more to build up the economy again,' says Eggertsson, 'it's that this is a country in which families are very united - maybe more united than ever right now - and the pain of separation would be terrible. I know a man who works for the government whose three children - two of them bankers, one a telecoms executive -have all just lost their jobs. He sees it as virtually inevitable that the three will go abroad.'
Yet Eggertsson shares the opinion of Svafa Gronfeldt that Iceland could end up giving the world a lesson in how to emerge out of this great crisis. 'We must reflect on the humiliation we have endured, abandon those mythical old Viking values - after all, most people just stayed at home and worked - and replace them with something new,' he says.
Such as what? Gronfeldt, and another half dozen women I interviewed, think they have the answer: 'Feminine values.'
Iceland is the country with the highest percentage of women in full-time employment in the world, but, as Gronfeldt points out, almost all of them have remained stuck in the second or third tiers of management. 'The fact is, however, that women in this country are ready, able and willing and this crisis will accelerate their rise to the next step.'
This has already started to happen, and in dramatic fashion. The new chief executives of the two big banks that have just been nationalised, Glitnir and Landsbanki, are both women, a development which one male minister described as an attempt to instil 'a new culture' in the banking world. The Financial Times headline on the story was: 'Icelandic women to clean up "male mess"'.
'Yes,' says Halla Tomasdottir, 'but this time, after cleaning up, we're going to stay.' Tomasdottir has emerged as something of a spokeswoman for an energetic new current in favour of women occupying key leadership posts in the new Iceland that, it is hoped, will emerge from the ruins of the old. 'Before we only rowed; now we're going to decide where the boat is headed.'
Tomasdottir has the attributes of a great captain. And today more than ever. She is the president of Audur Capital, a financial services consultancy whose clients are the only ones in Iceland not only to have not lost money in recent months, but to have made some. 'The last four years I'd been watching, incredulous, the screaming gap between the reigning model of investment and what ought to have been the sensible reality. Everything short-term, without taking into account the social consequences; betting on huge profits without seriously evaluating the risks; a shocking excess in the bonus payments to executives; and, shaping everything, a classically masculine way of doing things.'
Women in Iceland, as elsewhere, are generally more practical than men, they have their feet more squarely on the ground and they study the consequences of the risks they take with greater diligence, says Tomasdottir, who on the week I was in Reykjavik gave a speech on the subject that was received with almost evangelical excitement by the 100 influential women present. Among them was Oddny Sturludottir, a Reykjavik city councillor, who emerged from the meeting eyes blazing.
'We are all furious in Iceland but women especially so,' she said. 'We trusted the men at the helm and now we feel fooled, and totally convinced that if it had been women in charge we wouldn't be owing all these billions right now. They talk about the Viking model! What is the Viking model? Rapists and robbers! That's no model for the 21st century.'
Which does not mean, as far as Tomasdottir is concerned, that it is the end of the capitalist model. 'Not at all. It's the beginning of a new improved capitalism, one that is led not by women alone - of course not - but one that is guided by a more feminine concept of life.' That consists, she explains, 'in thinking more long term, in working more as a team, and in taking into account not only the immediate profits of investors but also wider values such as the welfare of society as a whole'.
Tomasdottir, a fashionably dressed woman of manifest dynamism and extravagant good humour, says she is excited by the challenges ahead. 'We will surprise the world!' she declares. 'We shall emerge stronger from all this and the world will imitate our example. You'll see!'
But before then - and even she does not deny this - three or four tough years will have to elapse. There will be significant unemployment for the first time since the Icelandic economy's first stirrings at the end of the second world war; the currency will go down before it goes up; some of the country's finest brains will depart and many elderly people will forever lament the opportunity lost to enjoy their long-awaited retirement.
'The party's over,' said the writer whose books the publishers cannot afford to print. 'I'll tell my children one day about the drunken nights of champagne excess the young bankers used to indulge in, and they'll think I'm making it up.'
The New York Times
November 2, 2008
Iceland, Mired in Debt, Blames Britain for Woes
By SARAH LYALL
LONDON — No one disputes that Iceland’s economic troubles are largely the country’s own fault. But there may be more to the story, at least in the view of Iceland’s government, its citizens and even some outsiders. As grave as their situation already was, they say, Britain — their old friend, NATO ally and trading partner — made it immeasurably worse.
The troubles between the countries began three weeks ago when Britain took the extraordinary step of using its 2001 antiterrorism laws to freeze the British assets of a failing Icelandic bank. That appeared to brand Iceland a terrorist state.
“I must admit that I was absolutely appalled,” the Icelandic foreign minister, Ingibjorg Solrun Gisladottir, said in an interview, describing her horror at opening the British treasury department’s home page at the time and finding Iceland on a list of terrorist entities with Al Qaeda, Sudan and North Korea, among others.
In a volatile economic climate, in which appearance matters almost as much as reality, being associated with terrorism is not a good thing.
“The immediate effect was to trigger an almost complete freeze on any banking transactions between Iceland and abroad,” said Jon Danielsson, an economist at the London School of Economics. “When you’re labeled a terrorist, nobody does business with you.”
The Icelandic prime minister, Geir H. Haarde, accused Britain of “bullying a small neighbor” and said the action was “very out of proportion.” In a recent speech in Beijing, Sir Howard Davies, a former deputy governor of the Bank of England and now the director of the London School of Economics, said that Britain had used a “beggar thy neighbor” approach to Iceland.
And an online petition signed so far by more than 20 percent of Iceland’s population said the British prime minister, Gordon Brown, had sacrificed Iceland “for his own short-term political gain,” thereby turning “a grave situation into a national disaster.”
Iceland’s financial problems had been brewing for some time. This past spring, the country’s banks, bloated with foreign deposits and debts, began to falter. This fall, as the financial crisis deepened, the government took over two of the country’s three largest banks.
Britain’s government, alarmed about the tens of thousands of accounts held by its citizens, companies, local governments and charities, froze the British assets of one of the failed banks, Landsbanki. It also seized the assets of Kaupthing Singer & Friedlander, the British subsidiary of another Icelandic bank, Kaupthing.
“The Icelandic government, believe it or not, told me yesterday that they have no intention of honoring their obligations here,” Alistair Darling, the chancellor of the Exchequer, declared the day Britain seized the assets.
The Icelandic government disputed that, saying it was merely asking for time to make good on its obligations.
Whatever the case, reaction was immediate and severe, particularly when Mr. Brown said the following day — inaccurately — that “we are freezing the assets of Icelandic companies in the U.K. where we can.”
Iceland’s ambassador to Britain, Sverrir H. Gunnlaugsson, said in an interview that this statement was particularly damaging. “There was a perception in the U.K. press and among suppliers that everything Icelandic had been frozen,” he said. “The word was put out belatedly that this was not the case.”
Icelanders say that it is now nearly impossible to get foreign currency into or out of the country. Many banks have refused even to transfer money to Iceland. Importers are having difficulty paying their foreign bills, and exporters are having trouble getting paid by their foreign customers.
Many people in Iceland are also furious about what happened to Kaupthing Singer & Friedlander. The British government’s seizure of its assets precipitated the immediate collapse of its parent bank, Kaupthing, which the Icelandic government had been propping up and had hoped would survive.
“Kaupthing was the last, best hope of the Icelandic banking system, and it was killed there and then,” Andres Magnusson, an editorial writer for Icelandic Financial News, said in an interview. “This really was the last straw. A lot of Icelanders are asking, ‘Excuse me: who’s the terrorist here?’ ”
The bank’s collapse had repercussions beyond Iceland and Britain. More than 8,000 depositors, individuals and businesses, hold Kaupthing Singer & Friedlander accounts worth about $1.34 billion on the Isle of Man, money they cannot get their hands on now — and may never.
Iceland is in line to receive a $2 billion loan from the International Monetary Fund and is talking to other Scandinavian countries. It is not entirely friendless: it was recently offered a loan of about $52 million from the tiny Faroe Islands, for which it is very grateful, Mr. Gunnlaugsson said.
The Icelandic government has pledged to make good on domestic bank accounts. But it is still fighting with Britain over how much it is obliged to pay — and how much it can afford to pay — to compensate customers with accounts in Icesave, Landsbanki’s British branch.
Under European regulations, Iceland is obliged to pay 20,000 euros (about $25,000) to each individual account holder in Icesave. But the total, Ms. Gisladottir, the foreign minister, said, would amount to about 600 billion Icelandic kronur — only about $5 billion at today’s collapsed exchange rate but fully 60 percent of Iceland’s gross domestic product.
“The compensation that we would give would be twice as much per head as the reparations Germany faced in the Treaty of Versailles after the First World War,” she said. “That is something we cannot afford.”
The British government has guaranteed that individual British account holders will be compensated fully, which is why it is seeking to wrest as much money as possible from Iceland. But no such guarantees have been made to the British companies, local governments, charities and universities — including Oxford and Cambridge — that had Icesave accounts. That figure alone is well over a billion dollars.
Iceland’s key interest rate now stands at 18 percent. The currency, the krona, has declined 44 percent in the last year. Mr. Danielsson, the economist, visited the country recently and found the situation grave.
“Salaries are frozen, food prices are shooting up and they are laying off people left, right and center,” he said. “Companies are going bankrupt all over the place. It’s unimaginable how bad it is.”
Ms. Gisladottir said Britain’s decision had sent Iceland back some 30 or 40 years, to a time when it was an isolated, poor country, dependent mostly on its fishing trade.
“This is a major crisis,” she said. “We haven’t been in this situation for, probably, ever. We cannot solve it alone. We need solidarity from partners, from friendly countries, and we thought the U.K. was one of them.”
Bond djevojka u mirovini:
Virtuela - Žena Koja Tajnu Zna
Bajo - Mladić Meka Srca i Tvrda Uda - nešto kao muž
Daćko Sraćko aka Fabio - Sin na dalekom otoku, miljenik žena i ovaca
BelzeBuba aka Gica Galaksija - Kći sisanče
Draguljče - Zla Pajina sestra sa shoe-size-IQ-om ; sanja karijeru u filmu
Sabrina - Zla Pajina majka, pati od alergije na električne žarulje, sanja Virtuelu
Kasper - Pajin otac, sanja vinski gulaš, safaladu, srneći hrbat...
Sanjcho - Žena koja je prehranila The Svadbas
Kum Bojko - Bubnjar i antiglobalist
Erik Degenerik - On Stvara Svet Oko Sebe
Tetka Kristla - Žena koja umije prepoznati dobru štiklu
Suzi J. - Društveni kroničar i posrnula makrobiotičarka, SMS pal
Tihana - Glumica i Ex-Cimerica
Disa - Pajina extramaritalna ljubovca
Lentilka i Čečka aka Marx & Engels - Mačke koje ne poštuju privatno vlasništvo
Mara - Maca Patrijarh - RIP
Milivoj - Jednooki mačak Legenda - RIP
Antonio aka Tonči - Najdeblji mačak na Islandu
Mitzuko aka Cuki - Maca Padobranka - RIP
Kali - Felino-Ljepotica, Kum Bojkova konkubina
Jurica - Mačak-Huligan, nezakoniti Erikov sin s ladanja u okolici Tabora
Dali - Pas Nakazić - RIP
Mafla - Maca Generalica
Ajka - Debela Kuja
Brok - Disin prijatelj i susjed
Tara - Disina prijateljica
Moretti & Co. - Toskanski zečevi - RIP
Mora - Kuja Asasin
...Lista se kontinuirano nadopunjuje....
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