Leading the Alternative World Order

Reshaping Perspectives and Catalyzing Diplomatic Evolution

Wednesday, September 27, 2023


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WorldEurope“The kind of subjugation that Icelanders still have towards foreigners should not happen anywhere”

“The kind of subjugation that Icelanders still have towards foreigners should not happen anywhere”

As you know, the Council of Europe summit starts tomorrow in Iceland. There’s a lot of preparation in the southwest corner, and it’s not every day that the public in one of the most peaceful countries in the world have to experience the effects of such high levels of security.

It is also not a regular occurrence that so many foreign representatives meet in Iceland. When such events occur, opinions are generally divided as to the occasion. In the run-up to the Council of Europe summit, the main criticism was the costs the meeting entails for the Icelandic state.

However, there were no comments that Icelanders, as meeting hosts, should be careful not to show contempt for foreign guests. Most people seem to take it for granted that hosts meet guests as equals.

However, this has not always been the case when large gatherings, where several foreign dignitaries are present, are on the doorstep in this country. The first such gathering in this country was the Alþingi festival, which took place in the summer of 1930. The festival was meant to commemorate the fact that 1000 years had passed since the establishment of Alþingi, according to Íslendingagbók.

The festival took place mainly in Þingvellir, but in Reykjavík, art exhibitions and other cultural events took place in connection with the festival, as well as a meeting of Nordic students. Representatives from the Nordic countries and various other foreign countries have visited Iceland. Probably the King of Denmark and Iceland, Kristján X. Foreign representatives brought many gifts to the Alþingi on the occasion of the turning point and conveyed their good wishes to the Icelanders in speeches during the celebration.

The festival took a long time to prepare and there were fears that the facilities at Þingvellir would not be ready in time. It had rained heavily in the days leading up to the festival, but the sun was shining and the festival was considered a success.

No subterfuge

In the winter before the festival, however, there were concerns that Icelanders were too shy and petty towards foreign representatives. In one of the issues of Skinfax, the magazine of the Youth Association of Iceland, published in early November 1929, an article was published by Kristján Karlsson, Guðmund Jónsson of Mosdal and Sigurð Greipsson.

In the article, they expressed great concern that Icelanders would bow their heads a lot when receiving worthy guests.

“Icelanders must be careful to stand up against foreign guests. The condescending behavior that Icelanders still have towards foreigners must not take place anywhere in 1930. Honesty and courtesy should be clearly marked in the behavior of every Icelander in 1930. From this year on, no foreigner should be able to walk around with dignity that Icelanders dare not face them with full determination.”

Probably most of us should be able to agree that it’s important for hosts to show the utmost courtesy to their guests while daring to look them in the eye. This must be true whether you are hosting a small dinner party or hosting dozens of national leaders.

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