The President is the voice of the nation when speaking internationally

The president must speak for the interests of the nation internationally. The president must cooperate with the government and protect the nation’s interests in the international community. The President has a diplomatic role to play and can open many doors abroad, both for the government and the people in the country.

We should use the presidency to open doors and conjoin around an issue, just as Ólafur Ragnar Grímsson has done impressively in the Arctic.

Without exception, the president should advocate for the peaceful resolution of disputes, and the overarching theme of his speeches should always be to advocate for peace.

I have spent over 30 years of my professional life researching how small states can best protect their interests and also have beneficial effects on the community of nations. Specifically, regarding Iceland, there is an opportunity related to our size and location, as we have demonstrated in the past. I returned home immediately after finishing university , knew I wanted to contribute to developing Icelandic society and partake in discourse about Iceland’s potential to participate in the international community.

To be successful abroad, we should use specific methods that small countries comparable to methods other Nordic countries have used successfully. We need to prioritize which issues we want to work with, but most importantly we need to start by doing our homework!

This means we should start by achieving success here at home first, for example, in matters regarding the well-being of children and young people, by further strengthening the position of women in society, and by standing at the forefront of nations on human rights issues in general. Such success here at home creates both respect and a place for us in the international community while also ensuring that we are listened to.

We may not build icebreakers like the great nations that split the ice sheets to our north. But if we possess the courage and willpower to be heard, while also exercising both due diligence and caution, we can be an icebreaker in the issues we choose to focus on, both here at home and abroad.