Three streets in Reykjavik will be named after Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania in honor of the nations' mutual friendships — the first time any street in the Icelandic capital has been named after a country.
Eistlandsbryggja, Lettlandsbryggja and Lithaenbryggja will be part of the new Artunshöfdi development in the north of the capital which is scheduled to be completed in approximately 2026.
Their development is a "historic moment," Reykjavik city councilor Pawel Bartoszek told ERR News on Tuesday. This is the first time any street in the capital has been named after another country.
"The reason is simple: to honor the historic friendship between Iceland and the Baltic countries. As many people know, Iceland was the first county to recognize the declarations of independence of the Baltic states and there are streets and squares named after Iceland in Vilnius, Riga and Tallinn. So we thought that now was the right time to return that beautiful token of friendship," he said.
Bartoszek said it has been suggested for some time that Iceland should honor its friendship with the Baltic countries, and as new names were being proposed for the Artunshöfdi development, this was a good time to do so.
The council suggested the proposal to the seven-member planning committee who unanimously agreed with the idea.
"We thought it was a very fitting time to go forward with this proposal. Our time on the committee is also coming to an end so it is one of the final acts of the committee during this term," Bartoszek, who is chairman of the council, said.
The three streets will be located by the waterfront and the word "bryggja" translated from Icelandic mean "pier." They will be built on a redeveloped industrial area which is currently a landfill site.
"We are making the land currently," Bartoszek said. "The Estonian pier will be a street primarily for pedestrians with limited car traffic and we plan to have some shops and cafes on the lower level and residential areas on the upper level."
Urban planning will be completed in June and the building is expected to be completed in approximately four years' time.
There is already a connection with the Baltic states in Reykjavik. The monument "Studningur" (Support) by Paul Jaunzens was a gift from Latvia to commemorate Iceland's recognition of the country's independence. Recently it was decided to name the area surrounding the statue "Kaenugardur" (Kyiv Square).
Bartoszek said Icelanders are familiar with their country's recent history and relations with the Baltic states and that they have good cooperation within the Baltic-Nordic frameworks.
"We very much share common values," he said.
Iceland was the first country in the world to recognize the restoration of independence of the three Baltic countries, starting with Lithuania.
The country recognized Estonia's independence two days after it had been declared on August 20, 1991.
In honor of the recognition, the square outside Estonia's foreign ministry was renamed Islandi väljak (Iceland Square) in 1998.
You can read more about Icelandic-Estonian relations on the Ministry of Foreign Affairs' website here.
Editor: Helen Wright