The current President of the EU General Affairs and External Relations Council, Slovenian Foreign Minister Dr Dimitrij Rupel, today chaired the EU-Israel Association Council. The Israeli delegation was headed by Tzipi Livni, the Minister of Foreign Affairs. The meeting focused on assessing relations between the European Union and Israel. The Association Council, the central body in the bilateral relations, regularly examines the relations and formulates proposals for strengthening cooperation.
In this context, Minister Rupel pointed out that Israel is an important partner for the European Union and, likewise, the European Union is an important partner for Israel. “There are numerous historic, cultural and economic ties between us. Therefore, the developments in these regions are of common concern to us; to this end, we must maintain lasting dialogue and highly developed cooperation,” said the Slovenian Foreign Minister. This cooperation is based on the European Neighbourhood Policy Action Plan, aimed at bringing the neighbouring countries closer to the European Union and offering them stronger economic interdependence and closer political cooperation to build upon a mutual commitment to important common values. “We hope that this policy will enable us to contribute to greater stability, security and welfare, both in the European Union and in neighbouring countries,” said Minister Rupel.
Dialogue and cooperation must be based on common values such as supporting efforts to find a solution to the Middle East conflict, to bolster the fight against terrorism and proliferation of weapons of mass destruction, to promote human rights, to improve dialogue between cultures and religions, and to cooperate in the fight against anti-Semitism, racism and xenophobia. Dr Rupel pointed out the satisfaction of the EU with the initiation of dialogue on human rights issues concerning both parties.
Some time ago, Israel proposed upgrading relations with the EU and Minister Rupel said that the request was welcomed by all Member States. Thus, the EU foreign affairs ministers expressed the political will to intensify relations and agreed to develop them gradually and as part of the European Union Neighbourhood Policy. “There are obvious reasons for which strengthened political cooperation between the EU and Israel should be understood as a cooperation which contributes to resolution of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict,” Minister Rupel pointed out. The specific proposals include the readiness to strengthen political dialogue between the EU and Israel and to exchange views on the margins of the United Nations General Assembly in New York.