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Iceland: EU is not for us

Staff writer |
Iceland's journey to the European Union (EU) is over, the country's foreign minister told the European Commission.

"This is how democracy works," said Gunnar Bragi Sveinsson, on his first overseas trip, three weeks after being appointed to the recently elected Icelandic government.

Mr. Sveinsson pointed out that both parties in the new government had campaigned against EU accession and added that the main purpose of the trip had been "to tell the commission that the new government has made decision to put negotiations on hold.

"We are part of Europe and want to strengthen our relationship in other ways," said Mr. Sveinsson.

Speaking during a press conference, Stefan Fule, the Czech commissioner responsible for EU membership bids, admitted that Iceland's decision was a personal blow.

"It was not easy for me as a person. I am also a professional and I respect without any questions and any doubt, the will of elected representative and citizens," said Mr. Fule and added "We remain fully committed to continuing and completing the process."

The commissioner called on the Icelandic government to make a quick decision on whether it had any intentions to re-open negotiations.

"It is in the interest of us all that the decision is not taken in an unlimited period of time," said Mr. Fule.

Opinion polls indicate that only 25 percent of Icelanders support EU membership.

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