BRUSSELS (Feb. 20)
Premier Yitzhak Shamir expressed Israel’s concerns over the future of its agricultural exports to Europe and explained his country’s position with respect to developments in Lebanon in talks with officials of the European Economic Community (EEC) here today.
Shamir arrived yesterday for a three-day visit which will be devoted largely to economic and trade matters. He conferred separately and in groups with the EEC foreign ministers and had a one-hour meeting this morning with Foreign Minister Claude Cheysson of France, the current President of the EEC Council of Ministers.
This evening, Shamir will serve as co-chairman of a meeting of the EEC-Israel mixed commission, a body that normally meets every two years but which was “frozen” by the EEC when Israel invaded Lebanon in June, 1982.
Tonight’s meeting indicates that the freeze has ended and Israel’s cooperation with the EEC is once more normal. Shamir told the various ministers he met with today that Israel has no territorial ambitions in Lebanon and is concerned solely with the protection of its northern borders.
CONDITIONS FOR WITHDRAWING FROM LEBANON
He told Cheysson that Israel will withdraw from southern Lebanon “only when there will be someone there able to guarantee our security.” Prior to his departure from Israel yesterday, Shamir told reporters that Israel would never agree to the unilateral abrogation of its May 17, 1983 withdrawal and security agreement with Lebanon. He also accused Syria of seeking to take total control of Lebanon.
He reiterated to Cheysson today that Syria was responsible for the present crisis in Lebanon and that it was deliberately created by Damascus. He refused to comment on the pullout of the multinational force from Beirut and its possible replacement by a United Nations force, a development France has been pressing for at the UN.
What happens in Beirut is outside of Israel’s immediate interests and concerns, Shamir told Cheysson. He added that a UN force in Beirut would not be able to safeguard Israel’s northern borders and “this is our essential concern.”
SEEKS SPECIAL ARRANGEMENTS WITH EEC
In the area of trade, the Israeli Premier made it clear that Israel is worried about its agricultural exports after Spain and Portugal join the EEC within the next few years. He stressed repeatedly to the EEC ministers that over 50 percent of Israel’s agricultural exports go to the Common Market countries.
He made the same point later at a meeting with Belgian editors. Israel’s economy and its exports will be jeopardized by the special status that will accrue to Spain and Portugal once they become full fledged members of the EEC, he said, unless special arrangements are made to protect Israel’s agricultural exports.
“It is not only Israel’s economy which will be hurt but the entire country’s social system which inevitably will be affected,” Shamir said. He said that if Israeli agriculture underwent a severe crisis and was unable to sell an important fraction of its products to Europe, some of Israel’s social structures, such as the kibbutz movement and its pioneering system will suffer.
Israeli economic experts began a series of meetings with members of the EEC commission this afternoon, seeking concrete measures that might help preserve Israeli exports after Spain and Portugal join the Common Market. Several countries, notably France, Italy and Greece are also concerned with possible competition when there is a free flow of Spanish wine, citrus and edible oils. France is doub concerned because of its special commitments to Algeria, Morocco and Tunisia, all former French territories.