BONN (Aug. 23)
Israeli Foreign Minister Shimon Peres left Germany on Tuesday with a promise from German authorities that they would help push forward Israel’s request to upgrade its trading status with the European Union.
For months, Israel has been engaged in negotiations with the E.U. to update its 1975 trade and economic agreement with the European body, particularly in the area of research and development projects.
In June, Peres met with the E.U.’s Council of Foreign Ministers in Luxembourg in an effort to establish closer economic ties with the 12 European states that comprise the E.U., which was formerly known as the European Community.
Israel is seeking to have an associate status with the E.U., similar to that of such countries as Switzerland and Iceland, which are not full members of the organization.
This status would give Israel similar benefits to those of the union’s regular members, except that it would have no voting rights within the organization.
A major obstacle to the E.U.’s granting Israel privileges in the sphere of research and development were removed last week, when France formally informed Israel it would support opening E.U. research and development projects — and budgets — to Israeli firms on an equal basis to that of European firms.
PERES SUPPORTS GERMAN BID AT U.N.
A formal decision by the Council of Ministers is expected soon.
The E.U. decided to strengthen relations with Israel after it signed the Palestinian self-rule accord last fall. Israel is currently suffering a $5 billion trade deficit with the E.U., which is its main trading partner.
A new comprehensive agreement with the E.U. would also grant favorable treatment to Israeli agricultural exports by gradually increasing the quotas of Israeli agricultural products allowed into the European market.
“If Israel opens its market to Palestinian agricultural projects, it is only just that Israel should be compensated,” Peres said after meeting German President Roman Herzog on Tuesday.
During his two-day visit to Bonn, Peres also met with Chancellor Helmut Kohl and Foreign Minister Klaus Kinkel.
Speaking to reporters after the meetings, the Israeli foreign minister voiced a willingness to turn a page on the history of his host country and support the desire of German officials to be a permanent member of the U.N. Security Council.
In May, Germany and Italy were granted temporary memberships on the Security Council for a two-year period starting in 1995.
“Germany should no longer be looked upon from the past, but rather from a view to the future. Germany should play a greater role in world politics,” Peres said.