On 1 October my tour of duty in North America comes to an end, and after a vacation I will be posted at the Ministry for Foreign Affairs in Reykjavík.
My wife Anna and I have enjoyed the past almost 11 years in Ottawa, New York and for the last two years and nine months here in Washington D.C. As always, when looking back, one wishes one could have done more, but whatever has been done or accomplished during my stay at these three great posts has been accomplished through team work. I first of all mention my wife, best friend and partner in everything for almost half a century, Anna. Without her I could not have been a diplomat for a single year, let alone for now almost 36 years. She has been the driving force in many undertakings for which I have then been thanked.
Secondly,I have been extremely lucky to have such wonderful co-workers at the Embassies in Ottawa and in Washington and at the Mission of Iceland to the U.N. and at the Ministry in Iceland as well as the many Honorary Consuls of Iceland in North America as well as in the Caribbean and South America where I have also been accredited from Ottawa, NY and D.C. We have visited a great many North American places, from the highest North to the deepest south and from the east to the west, all the provinces of Canada and all its northern territories, as well as Alaska, including Barrow, all the US states on the east coast and in New England, Texas, Illinois, Minnesota, North Dakota, Washington State, California, Nevada and more. Regardless of the spectacular nature and scenery this vast and beautiful continent has, the most memorable in all the visits has been connecting with its people. We thank everyone we met for their friendly receptions and warmth. We treasure the memories.
It is impossible to mention all the work related highlights of the last almost 11 years, but a few key words can give an imperfect indication:
Opening of the first Embassy of Iceland in Canada, meeting the Canadians and US Citizens of Icelandic descent (for some personal sentiments on that topic, see here my Editorial in the Icelandic Canadian Vol. 57 No. 1, 2002, now called Icelandic Connection), the exciting work at the U.N. not least in Iceland’s first time bid to become a member of the Security Council, two time Vice President of the ECOSOC and one year Vice President (with many) of the General Assembly of the U.N., the many speeches at the GA, Security Council and ECOSOC, Anna’s UN Women for Peace, the excitement on 20 January 2009 at the Inauguration of President Obama – oh the weather was soooo cold – we were warm inside, experiencing a monumental milestone in USA’s history (and appreciating its significance deeply because we lived in North Carolina in the sixties), the moving in September 2009 of the Embassy’s offices to the House of Sweden on the Potomac, the meeting between Hillary Rodham Clinton and Össur Skarphéðinsson, etc. And then there are the business trips to the countries south of the USA, including the very interesting and beautiful country of Cuba.
Our successors, Guðmundur Árni Stefánsson and his wife, Jóna Dóra Karlsdóttir, will arrive already on 4 October and we wish them well in all their endeavors. Most of all we hope they will enjoy the same friendships and hospitality we encountered everywhere.
May all the readers of this newspaper enjoy health and happiness in the years to come.
Hjálmar W. Hannesson,
Ambassador of Iceland