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Denmark “could do better” and should lend manuscripts

14.01.2022 - 14:53
Mynd: RÚV - Kristinn Þeyr Magnússon / RÚV
Lilja Alfreðsdóttir, culture minister, says more Árni Magnússon manuscripts should come home to Iceland, calling for long-term loans from Denmark. She believes Denmark has so far imperfectly kept its side of the agreement made last century about the manuscripts.

No to Norway 

Danish broadcaster DR recently covered the manuscripts, and particularly the Icelandic government’s request to bring them to the country on long-term loan. DR also revealed that a loan request from Norway had recently been rejected. 

Under the 1986 agreement on the sharing of the manuscripts, Iceland committed to not demand the permanent return of any more of the documents. But Lilja Alfreðsdóttir is calling for loans and set up a manuscripts committee last year. 

Long-term loans 

“We have said that we want to work within the contract that was made back in the day and that we are asking for a long-term loan. What is happening here is that we are building a House of Icelandic Studies where we will display the manuscripts and place great emphasis on them,” the minister says. 

“We have also been carrying out research very well on the manuscripts and I think we should do this even more and better, and here there is both the ability and interest, and we have been putting extra funding in for this reason. So, I think more manuscripts should come,” Lilja says. 

Little research 

The bilateral agreement stipulates that both nations must research the manuscripts, but Lilja believes Denmark is not living up to that commitment and could do more. 

“That is right. They have not been engaging in research as much as we have been. We have of course also been improving all the infrastructure around the manuscripts, which they have not been doing. We can at least justify saying that they could have performed their contractual obligation better. Because we quite clearly are doing so.” 

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