“What’s the difference between Iceland and Ireland? One letter and six months.” Suggesting Ireland’s economy would soon go bust like Iceland’s, this joke has apparently done the rounds in London’s financial circles. And the president of Iceland is not at all pleased.
It is “just a recent example” of the “arrogance of the British,” Olafur Ragnar Grimsson told the Irish Times at the international financial summit in Davos, Switzerland.
“People in London should worry more about the future of London as a financial centre and the economy in Britain, and how that will fare in the future and their own problems, than playing jokes about Iceland and Ireland,” he said.
A rift recently formed between Britain and Iceland, when the Nordic country declined to repay more than $5 billion of deposits lost in its banking crisis, which it owes Britain and the Netherlands.
“There is a limit to how much you can ask taxpayers to pay due to irresponsible, greedy and risky operations by bankers in a foreign country,” Grimsson said.
The president drew a different connection between Ireland and Iceland. “We have both in our histories experienced the arrogance of the British,” he told the Irish Times. The joke, he said, “is just a recent example of that.”