JERUSALEM (Jun. 21)
Israel received both bad news and good news Tuesday about its relations with Eastern European countries.
In Yugoslavia, the Parliament decided not to resume diplomatic ties with Israel at this time. In Warsaw, Yossi Beilin, political director general of Israel’s Foreign Ministry, scored something of a diplomatic coup by becoming the first foreign visitor to meet with Tadeusz Olechowski since he took office as Poland’s new foreign minister.
Premier Yitzhak Shamir expressed regret Tuesday at the Yugoslav move, which he called discriminatory. “Diplomatic relations between the countries should be maintained even when there is no agreement between them on views,” he said during a visit to Tel Aviv.
In Warsaw, Beilin said his trip constitutes progress in Israeli-Polish relations, but he refused to call it a breakthrough.
Speaking by telephone to Israel Radio, he said, “I wouldn’t use terms like that, but this visit was certainly significant in that it advances at some particular level Polish-Israeli relations.”
Beilin said Israel can expect improvements in its relations with the Eastern European countries, but not the resumption of formal diplomatic ties until there is an international conference for Middle East peace.
“This doesn’t mean that prior to an international conference there can’t be various types of changes in diplomatic relations,” he said.
“I hope that such a development will occur but according to the Eastern Europeans, an actual resumption of diplomatic relations will not take place until an international conference is convened,” he said.
Romania is the only East European Communist bloc country that has diplomatic ties with Israel, though Poland and Israel last year established interest sections in each other’s countries. A similar arrangement is now under way with Hungary.
Asked why some East European nations are now showing an interest in Israel, Beilin said it was because “they want to play a certain role in the Middle East and they know they can’t fulfill this role without improved relations with Israel.”
Beilin said the main issue for Poland is the development of economic ties with Israel. He said his meeting with the Polish foreign minister was “part of the process of normalization that began not long ago and which has developed successfully with several Eastern European countries.”