In a speech Mr. Össur Skarphedinsson, foreign minister of Iceland gave at the UN General Assembly yesterday, he was very direct on the situation in Syria, in Palestine and the relations between Iran and Israel, as well as on gender equality and the human rights of homosexuals.
Skarphéðinsson criticized the security council for having become and obstacle to international effort.
"We must reform it, so as to make it a tool, not a hindrance, for progress in situation such as in Syria this year, or - as we saw last year - concerning the Palestinian application."
And his message to Mr. Netanyahu and Ahmadinejad was clear:
"Last year I brought you the message that my Government would propose to our Parliament that Iceland recognizes Palestine as a sovereign and an independent state.
I'm happy to tell you today, that we have fulfilled that promise. What's more, not single member of the Icelandic Parliament voted against the recognition of Palestine.
The United Nations have recently estimated that Gaza will no longer be "livable" by 2020 unless urgent action is taken to improve water supply, power, health and basic education. The deplorable living conditions described in the UN report demonstrate only too well that the situation in Palestine is unacceptable to anyone who respects human dignity.
I have visited Gaza. I met with fishermen who are not allowed to go fishing in the waters out of Gaza. I met the children of Gaza whose lives are made impossible by poverty, violence and a blockade that by others than myself has been described as an open door prison.
I have seen for myself how the human rights of the people of the West bank are violated every day by a man-made barrier cutting through their roads, their lands, their lives.
When I was in Qalqilya the words of a former statesman we all know rung in my head.
Mr. Netanyahu - tear down this wall!
I also know that the Israeli people are just like the rest of us. They just want to live in peace, and so they deserve. The best way to ensure that, is a two state solution, that would not only be to the benefit of the Palestinians, but to the Israeli people as well.
I listened to Mr. Netanyahu's speech on Thursday, and I have a comment to make on behalf of the Icelandic people: Don't bomb Iran. Don't start another war in the Middle East. At the same time I say to President Ahmadinejad and the Iranian leadership: Don't build a bomb. Let diplomacy work, not rabblerousing or fearmongering. Let's work for peace together."
Iceland may not be a big nation. Iceland may not have an army. But Iceland can still be an inspiration.
"Small countries can be global pioneers. Iceland demonstrated that by breaking the ice of recognition for the Baltic countries, by introducing geothermal as an alternative in the world's quest for clean power, and we have led by example in the fight for gender equality."
Skarphéðinsson announced at this opportunity that Iceland has secured funds with the World Bank to develope geothermal projects in the East African Rift Valley producing renewable energy for 150 million people in 13 African countries.
Mr. Skarphéðinsson concluded by stating the Icelandic situation after the economic collapse:
"Times have been tough in Iceland. In the recession in Europe we were the first country down, but we were also the first country up. If there is any lesson to be drawn from the Icelandic recovery it is that austerity doesn't work on it's own. Iceland certainly went through her share of austerity, but we also raised taxes, especially on the wealthy, and used the revenue to stimulate growth and ensure the welfare system was intact. Today, we have some of the lowest unemployment in Europe, and robust economic growth. The Icelandic model works.
Perhaps the best sign that Iceland is back in business is the fact that whilst the global recession has sadly led to a decline in international support for the developing countries Iceland is bucking that trend. We are increasing ours - substantially."
Maybe someone will be inspired by Iceland when it comes to foreign policy as well.
The speech can be read in whole here: Mr. Skarphéðinsson's speech to the UN General Assembly