Thursday, 19 November 2009

EU official Günter Verheugen says Israel should enjoy the same status as Norway

"Israel is for the EU not a country like the others. There is no other country in the world with whom we have such visible and invisible links. Israel is part of our own history, our own culture and our own life."

BRUSSELS (EJP, article by Yossi Lempkowicz) - An EU senior official said the European Union should upgrade its political and economic relations with Israel – frozen after the Gaza war in January - and grant this country the same status enjoyed by Norway.

Speaking at an event dinner organized Tuesday in Brussels to mark the 50 years of diplomatic relations between the EU and Israel, Günter Verheugen, German Vice-President of the European Commission responsible for Enterprise and Industry, said: "We should give Israel a long-term and clear credible European perspective".

The process of upgrading the EU's relations with Israel, decided last year, was put "on hold" after Israel’s operation against Hamas in Gaza and linked to the restart of Mideast peace talks. While not an EU member state, Norway required to adopt much EU legislation due to its participation in the European Economic Area (EEA), through the European Free Trade Association (EFTA). The country has also chosen for participation in many of the EU’s programmes, institutions and activities.

"Israel is for the EU not a country like the others. There is no other country in the world with whom we have such visible and invisible links. Israel is part of our own history, our own culture and our own life," Verheugen said.

"We cannot deliver hard security to Israel but we can strengthen our economic and political relations", Verheugen, who described himself as "definitely pro-Israel", added.

At the event, organized by the Mission of Israel to the EU and the Konrad-Adenauer Foundation, Stanley Fischer, Governer of the Bank of Israel, emphasized the "resilience" of his country’s economy, which has been less hit by the crisis, and said the success and vitality of the high tech sector in Israel "should be an example for Europe where it has been less successful".

Israel’s ambassador to the EU, Ran Curiel, said EU-Israel relations are based on a long shared history of the Jewish people and Europe "with its lights and shadows".

"We have much more in common than what may seem to separate us. The long-term interests of Israel and Europe are identical especially when it comes to the future of the Middle East. Israel and Europe both seek peace, stability and development."

He noted that the political dialogue between Israel and Europe has improved substantially in the last couple of years. The EU and Israel are linked by an association agreement since 1995, which came into force in 2000. The EU is Israel’s main trading partner and Israel participates in several EU programs. Israel hopes that the upgrade of its relations with the EU would take place during Spain’s EU presidency in the first semester of 2010.

23 comments:

shaukat said...

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Asalamo aalekum,

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Thanks



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Kathmandu

Nepal

+977-9851058207

alinepali96@yahoo.com

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