The direct diplomatic relations between the Soviet Union and Iceland were established October 4, 1943. In December 1955 the missions in Moscow and Reykjavik received the status of embassies, in 1975-1995 a trade representative of USSR (Russia after 1991) existed in Iceland.
In December 1991 Iceland formally confirmed its willingness to develop stable good-neighbour relations with the democratic Russia. In December 1994 a Declaration on fundamentals of relations between Russian and Iceland was signed. In April 1999 political consultations between the Foreign Ministries of our countries recommenced. In 2001 annual trade-economical consultations were launched.
The first ever visit of the President of Iceland Mr. O.R.Grimsson to Russia, April 18-24, 2002, has become an important milestone in Russian-Icelandic relations. The President visited Saint-Petersburg, Moscow, Novgorod and Salekhard. The whole range of relations between the countries was discussed at the meetings of O.R.Grimsson with the President of Russian Federation V.V.Putin, Prime Minister M.I.Kasyanov, Patriarch of the Russian Orthodox Church Alexiy II, several regional leaders. In September 2002 the Icelandic President took part in the second session of the Northern Research Forum in Novgorod. In April 2003 he participated in festive ceremony dedicated to the 300th anniversary of Saint-Petersburg and in August 2003 he visited the Autonomous District Chukotka where he met its governor R.Abramovich.
The collaboration is also developping on the regional level. Iceland shows interest in broadening ties with Northwest Russia, Moscow, Saint-Petersburg, Murmansk, Vladivostok, Kamchatka, Chukotka. Relations between the parliaments of both countries as well as regional organizations (such as Arctic Council etc) are also maintained.
In 2003 turnover in Russian-Icelandic trade reached 89,7 millions doll. Export from Iceland to Russia is 13,8 millions doll., import amounts 75,9 millions doll. Russia takes the 9th place among chief exporters to Iceland. Russian export mainly consists of raw materials: oil products (62,3%), aluminium (27%). Iceland exports to Russia ships and vessels (25,1%), sea products (23,3%), textiles and garment (14,9%), chemical fertilizers (10,8%), industrial equipment (9,5%).
One of the most important directions of Russian-Icelandic relations is collaboration in the field of fisheries.Iceland and Russia tightly interact within such international organizations as NAFO, NEAFC, IWC, herring consultation etc. In May 1999 Russia, Iceland and Norway signed an Agreement on several aspects of fisheries which resolved the problem of Iceland´s uncontrolled fishing of cod in the Barentz Sea and resulted in an evident activization of relations between these countries in fisheries. In April 2000 Russia and Iceland signed an Intergouvernmental? Agreement on collaboration in fisheries. Annual meetings of the Joint Russian-Icelandic Fisheries Commission have become regular.
The process of renovation of the legal basis of our relations is going on. In 1998 a Air Space Agreement was signed, in 2003 the Convention on double taxation joined into force. Currently both sides are working on an investments agreement.
The institute of honorary consuls has been established. In 2001 a position of honorary consul or Russia in Akureyri was created. In 2002 the title of honorary consul of Iceland in Murmansk was granted to General Director of JSC SFEN V.Kasatkin.
Cultural ties between Iceland and Russia are increasing.In 1997 the first Russian-Icelandic dictionary by Helgi Haraldsson was published. Student exchanges between Russian and Icelandic universities have become frequent.
In summer 2002 Russian warships visited Iceland for the first time in nearly 30 years.In July the patrol vessel “Murmansk” came to Iceland by the invitation of the Coast Guard Service of Iceland and in August the anti-soubmarine vessel “Admiral Chabanenko” and the tanker “Sergey Osipov” visited Reykjavík by the invitation of the Ministry for Foreign Affairs of Iceland.
In Reykjavík a community of Russian speaking people has been formed. In 2001 it created the Orthodox Aggregation of Saint Nicole. Priests from the Russian Orthodox Church come regularly to Iceland for divine services during religious festivities. At the moment the community is looking with the help of local authorities for a lot for the first orthodox church and center of Russian culture in Iceland.