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Iceland's Ambassador to the U.S. Kicks off 2010-11 Ambassadors' Speaker Forum

September 10, 2010 — Iceland's ambassador to the United States, Hjálmar W. Hannesson, comes to the University of Virginia on Monday to discuss "Iceland on the World Scene" as his country deals with its financial crisis.

Hannesson is the first speaker of this year's Ambassadors' Speakers Forum, an annual event presented by the Office of the Vice Provost for International Programs.

He will speak at 5 p.m. in the auditorium of the newly opened South Lawn Commons Building. The event is free and open to the public.

In 2008, the island nation's banking system failed after the collapse of its three largest banks, sparking a political upheaval. Early parliamentary elections were called in April 2009, ushering out the Independence Party, which had been in power for 18 years. Iceland's currency, the krona, has fallen sharply in value and the country is in a recession.

Iceland has also been in the news because one of its volcanoes erupted twice last April. The ash plume emitted from the erupting Eyjafjallajökull volcano halted air traffic around much of the world, stranding millions of travelers and costing airlines millions of dollars.

The 2010-11 Ambassadors' Speakers' Forum will also feature ambassadors from the Netherlands, Bosnia-Herzegovina and Brazil this fall.

— By Jane Kelly

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