Jón Baldvin Hannibalsson

Jón Baldvin Hannibalsson (born 21 February 1939) is an Icelandic politician and diplomat.[1] He was Minister of Finance from 1987 to 1988 and Minister of Foreign Affairs from 1988 to 1995.

Jón Baldvin Hannibalsson
Jón Baldvin Hannibalsson 2011.jpg
Minister of Foreign Affairs
In office
28 September 1988 – 23 April 1995
Prime MinisterSteingrímur Hermannsson
Davíð Oddsson
Preceded bySteingrímur Hermannsson
Succeeded byHalldór Ásgrímsson
Minister of Finance
In office
8 July 1987 – 28 September 1988
Prime MinisterÞorsteinn Pálsson
Preceded byÞorsteinn Pálsson
Succeeded byÓlafur Ragnar Grímsson
Personal details
Born (1939-02-21) 21 February 1939 (age 82)
Ísafjörður, Iceland
Political partySocial Democratic Party

He is known in the Baltics as, at his initiative, Iceland became the first nation to recognize the independence of the Baltic states in 1991.[2][3][4]


The son of Hannibal Valdimarsson, Jón Baldvin Hannibalsson earned an MA in Economics from the University of Edinburgh in 1963.[1] He studied at Stockholm University from 1963 to 1964, and studied to become a teacher at the University of Iceland in 1965.[1] He attended Harvard University's Center for European Studies from 1976 to 1977.[1]


From 1964 and until its closure in 1967, Hannibalsson was an editor of Frjáls þjóð. He also edited Alþýðublaðið (1979–1982).

Political careerEdit

European Economic AreaEdit

Jón Baldvin Hannibalsson led Iceland's delegation while Iceland participated in forming the European Economic Area.[6]

Diplomatic careerEdit

Later he served as a diplomat in the United States and Mexico from 1998 to 2002 and to Finland, Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania from 2002 to 2005.[7] Ambassador to Ukraine from 2004 to 2006.[citation needed] He recognized the Baltic States' independence in 1991, as the only western foreign minister to arrive on the scene in January 1991 when Gorbachev was at the brink of a military crack down.[8][9] He has published a book detailing these experiences, titled "The Baltic road to freedom - Iceland's role" in 2017.[10]


In January 1991, after the bloodshed in Vilnius, he started the process of reestablishing diplomatic connections between Lithuania and Iceland. Thus Iceland was the first state to take a conflict with the Soviet Union to support Baltic freedom.[11]

In recognition, the square in front of Estonian Foreign Ministry in Tallinn is named as "Iceland Square", and on the grounds of the Lithuanian Seimas (Parliament) the rocks of the last barricades from January 1991 bear the inscription "To Iceland – They Dared When Others Remained Silent".[2]

For his role in recognizing Lithuania's independence, Jón Baldvin was awarded Commander's Grand Cross of the Order of the Lithuanian Grand Duke Gediminas (1996), as well as Medal of 13 January and title of honorary citizen of Vilnius.[12] He is also a recipient of the Estonian Order of the Cross of Terra Mariana, 1st Class (1996) and the Latvian Order of the Three Stars (3rd class).[13]

He was, purportedly, the first western foreign minister in the world to recognize Croatia as a sovereign nation in 1991.[14]

Sexual harassment scandalEdit

In 2012, it was revealed that during the period 1998–2001, Jón Baldvin sent a number of sexually explicit letters to Guðrún Harðardóttir, a young niece of his wife.[15] In one of the letters, Jón Baldvin graphically described having sex with his wife. Other letters contained sexually explicit and erotic themes. Guðrún, who was 14–17 years of age at the time, attempted to push charges against Jón Baldvin for sexual harassment in 2005, but investigations were dropped by police.[15]

Jón Baldvin's letters were revealed to the public by Guðrún in the monthly magazine Nýtt Líf in February 2012, and subsequently he issued statements on his personal website. In his statements, he denied that he had sexually harassed Guðrún, but apologized for a "lapse of judgment" in initiating the correspondence with her.[16][17]

In 2013, the scandal re-emerged when Jón Baldvin was invited to teach as guest lecturer at the University of Iceland. Following public objections to the hiring of him, the University of Iceland withdrew the invitation. Jón Baldvin protested the University's decision in a series of newspaper articles.[18] After Jón Baldvin threatened to sue, due to there being no legal grounds for his firing,[19] the University agreed to pay him 500.000 ISK in compensations and publicly apologized for how they handled the matter.[20]


  1. ^ a b c d e f g "Jón Baldvin Hannibalsson" (in Icelandic). Althing. 25 January 2016. Retrieved 29 May 2019.
  2. ^ a b Wright, Helen (17 June 2016). "For David Against Goliath: Iceland's Support for Baltic Independence". deepbaltic.com. Retrieved 29 May 2019.
  3. ^ Ólason, Samúel Karl. "Jón Baldvin heiðraður á sjálfstæðisafmæli Litháen - Vísir". visir.is. Retrieved 27 February 2021.
  4. ^ "Jón Baldvin í Litháen: 20 ára sjálfstæðisafmæli - Vísir". visir.is. Retrieved 27 February 2021.
  5. ^ "Fyrri ráðherrar | Fjármálaráðuneytið". 25 March 2010. Archived from the original on 25 March 2010.
  6. ^ "Iceland and the EU: the road ahead. European Breakfast with Jón Baldvin Hannibalsson, ex-Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Trade of Iceland". Barcelona Centre for International Affairs. 16 October 2009. Retrieved 29 May 2019.
  7. ^ "Jón Baldvin Hannibalsson (speaker profile)". Barcelona Centre for International Affairs. 2009. Archived from the original on 4 November 2013. Retrieved 12 March 2013.
  8. ^ Bogdanas, Ramūnas (7 July 2014). "Hannibalsson: "Lithuania has gone way beyond my expectations"". Delfi (web portal). Retrieved 29 May 2019.
  9. ^ "Jón Baldvin Hannibalsson". (The profile was written for the exhibition "Good-bye, Charlie! 20 Years since the Fall of Communism in Europe). Estonian History Museum. Archived from the original on 4 March 2016. Retrieved 12 March 2013.
  10. ^ "Jón Baldvin Hannibalsson". jbh.is. Retrieved 25 October 2018.
  11. ^ Kristensen, Gustav N. 2010. Born into a Dream. EuroFaculty and the Council of the Baltic Sea States. Berliner Wissentshafts-Verlag. ISBN 978-3-8305-1769-6.
  12. ^ "The President met with former Icelandic foreign minister Jón Baldvin Hannibalsson". lrp.lt. 30 April 2013. Retrieved 29 May 2019.
  13. ^ "The Order of the Cross of Terra Mariana: 20 years" (PDF). President of Estonia. 2014. Retrieved 29 May 2019.
  14. ^ "Ísland fyrsta vestræna ríkið sem viðurkennir Slóveníu og Króatíu: Ljóst að EB". Morgunblaðið (in Icelandic). 20 December 1991. Retrieved 1 June 2018.
  15. ^ a b "Bréf Jóns Baldvins ollu reiði, sorg og biturð". Vísir.is (in Icelandic). 23 February 2012. Retrieved 29 May 2019.
  16. ^ Anna Lilja Þórisdóttir (23 February 2012). "Baðst afsökunar fyrir 12 árum". Morgunblaðið (in Icelandic). Retrieved 1 June 2018.
  17. ^ "Mala domestica ..." jbh.is (in Icelandic). 22 February 2012. Retrieved 29 May 2019.
  18. ^ http://jbh.is/default.asp?ID=303
  19. ^ Ingibjörg Bára Sveinsdóttir (11 September 2013). "Jón Baldvin í mál við Háskóla Íslands". Vísir.is (in Icelandic). Retrieved 1 June 2018.
  20. ^ Jóhannes Stefánsson (29 January 2014). "Jón Baldvin fær hálfa milljón og afsökunarbeiðni frá HÍ". Vísir.is (in Icelandic). Retrieved 1 June 2018.

External linksEdit