MADRID (Jul. 18)
Complaints that Spain is niggardly and uncooperative in issuing Israeli citizens tourist visas and other entry documents were the subject of bilateral talks here Saturday and Sunday.
But no progress was reported on the issue after two days of discussion between Yossi Beilin, political director general of the Israeli Foreign Ministry, and his Spanish counterpart, Fernando Perpina Robert. They instructed their respective aides to continue the talks.
Perpina assured Beilin that Spanish visa regulations are not directed against Israel. He said they were part of a policy to better control the entry of visitors to the country.
Nevertheless, while Spanish nationals visiting Israel receive a stamped visa at the port of entry without paying a fee, Israelis going to Spain on business or for pleasure say they experience difficulties.
They contend that Spain limits the number of visas issued to Israelis each year and that Spanish consular employees in European cities are uncooperative and often aggressively rude when Israelis apply for the documents.
Beilin and Perpina also discussed proposed agreements on mutually recognized social security benefits and they reviewed major political issues.
Beilin discussed the Arab-Israeli conflict Saturday with Spanish Foreign Minister Francisco Fernandez Ordonez.
He was scheduled to meet Sunday night with the new justice minister, Enrique Mugica Herzog, who is Jewish and is vice president of the Spanish-Israel Friendship Association.