The FINANCIAL -- Diverging
views over whether Iceland should pursue its European Union membership
talks could topple the country's coalition government, Foreign Minister
Ossur Skarphedinsson suggested on Monday.
As EUbusiness reported, he stressed that applying for EU membership was part of the left-wing coalition's agreed political platform.
"We made an agreement, which the Social Democratic Alliance agreed to as well as the other government party. If the situation arises that the government parties feel they can't stick to that agreement, we of course have to totally re-evaluate the situation," Skarphedinsson told Icelandic radio RUV.
He said junior coalition partner the Left Greens could not back down from the agreement.
"History teaches us that it can have all sorts of consequences," he warned.
His comment came after two ministers from the Left Green party told RUV that the country ought to reconsider joining the bloc because of the euro crisis.
Iceland applied for EU membership in 2009 in the wake of a catastrophic banking and economic meltdown, and is moving ahead rapidly in its membership negotiations.
"It is ... clear that there have been changes in Europe, economical and also political. There is great uncertainty where the EU is heading," Katrin Jakobsdottir, the minister of education, science and culture and a Left Green member, said.
"It is clear that this uncertainty has considerable affects on the process in Iceland," she added.
Another Left Green member, Environment Minister Svandis Svavarsdottir, echoed the sentiment.
A professor of political science at the University of Akureyri, Gretar Thor Eythorsson, told RUV that Skarphedinsson meant the government coalition could fall.
"If the Left Green will not back up the accession talks, then the government coalition is over," she said.
"Ossur (Skarphedinsson) did not want to say it in so many words, but in fact he said so in this interview. I don't think anyone doubts that the Social Democratic Alliance will not tolerate this," she said.
Iceland's government, headed by Prime Minister Johanna Sigurdardottir of the Social Democrats, has been in power since April 2009.
The Left Greens are opposed to EU membership, but agreed to accession talks on the condition that a referendum be held once a membership agreement was struck with Brussels.