Finance Minister Receives Conference Speakers

From left: Robert Tyler, Heidar Gudjonsson, His Excellency Bjarni Benediktsson, Dr. Barbara Kolm, Her Excellency Gabriela von Habsburg. In the background can be seen Dean Stefan Hrafn Jonsson of the School of Social Sciences and Professors Stephen Macedo and Ragnar Arnason.

After the conference held by the University of Iceland on 12 May 2023 because of the retirement of Hannes H. Gissurarson, Professor of Politics, who turned seventy in February, His Excellency Bjarni Benediktsson, now Finance Minister and previously Prime Minister, invited the speakers and some other guests to dinner at the official Minister’s House, Radherrabustadurinn, in Tjarnargata. This had been the residence of Icelandic prime ministers from 1906 to 1942, but was now used for special receptions and meetings. In his welcoming remarks Minister Benediktsson said that Professor Gissurarson had been an inspiration to himself and many others of his generation and no less to younger generations. He gave a toast to Gissurarson. The Professor recalled in his response that one of his friends, Sir Antony Fisher, had always asked people to raise their glasses ‘To Peace and Low Taxes’. This was his favourite toast.

From left: Dr. Stefania Oskarsdottir, Professor Ragnar Arnason, Dr. Neela Winkelmann, Professor Stephen Macedo, Her Excellency Barbara von Habsburg, Professor Hannes H. Gissurarson, Dr. Barbara Kolm (half-hidden), Kjartan Gunnarsson (standing) and Her Excellency Sigridur Andersen, former Minister of Justice.

During dinner, three friends of Professor Gissurarson gave short speeches. Independent investor Kjartan Gunnarsson, former Executive Director of the Independence Party, recalled that the two of them had been fighting for freedom in Iceland for more than fifty years. They had even been convicted together for operating an illegal radio station in 1984, in protest against the government monopoly on broadcasting. Dr. Barbara Kolm, Director of the Hayek Institute in Vienna, said that Professor Gissurarson had not only been an inspiration to young Icelanders, but also to young people in Europe, North America and South America where he had lectured, not least on themes from his excellent recent book, Twenty-Four Conservative-Liberal Thinkers, available online. Dr. Tom Palmer, Vice-President for International Affairs at Atlas Network, said he had first met Professor Gissurarson at the Mont Pelerin Society meeting in Cambridge in 1984 and that he had soon discovered that he was not only a loyal friend, but also an able spokesman for classical liberal ideas. In his response, Gissurarson said that he was only retiring from the University of Iceland, but certainly not from his scholarly research, writing and lecturing whic he enjoyed. When he turned seventy, he had not considered himself to have aged: he had just matured. In fact, age was an issue of mind over matter. If one didn’t mind, then it didn’t matter.


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