Europa Forum 2007 – Rethinking Europe: The Globalization of the European Union
Address by Vice Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs Tzipi Livni to the Europa Forum 2007 in Berlin
It is my honor to send greetings to the participants of "the 10th International WDR Europa Forum". It is also a pleasure to congratulate the European Union as it marks fifty years since the Rome Treaty was signed by the six founding member states with a vision of European integration.
Jewish People and Europe
The relations between Europe and Israel are deeply connected to the relations between the Jewish people and the European countries, even before the establishment of the State of Israel and before the European Unity. Another element impacting Israeli-EU relations is the fact that the Jewish homeland established in the land of Israel, which constituted a most complex mosaic, was largely made up from the few European Jewish survivors.
In addition, through the years many Jewish figures – politicians, philosophers, economists took an active part in the reshaping of modern Europe. Similarly, Jewish young leaders were influenced by European social movements and ideas – later becoming leaders of the young state of Israel.
In all, the relations between Israel and Europe have a long and rich history. We have known good days and also dark days, including the darkest days of the Holocaust. Yet, we have a natural bond which is unshakeable. The natural bond is based on our common history, but also on our shared values and beliefs.
This year’s "Europa forum" deals with the globalization of the European Union and tries to rethink Europe and its role in the global arena. This is an important reflection process, which may reshape the image and reality of the EU for the next fifty years.
The experience of the European integration is most unique, and is a success story in many ways. From the rubbles, a torn and bleeding post World War Two, Europe has managed to put aside old territorial and national disputes, and to promote a vision of cooperation and unity.
The European community has managed well in handling the threats of the previous century. Yet, today, we are faced with new challenges, which threaten the entire moderate global community. We cannot afford to belittle or ignore these threats. They threaten our values, our lives and the future of human society as we believe it should be.
Due to its unique values and experience, the EU has a role to play in the global community. Good transatlantic relations, a strong alliance between democracies in the free world, are essential, in meeting the challenges of the modern era.
Israel and the EU are natural partners in facing these new challenges and in preserving our common vision for the future. A future founded on peace, security, stability and prosperity for all peoples.
From Nationalism to Extremism
Transformations in the world have influenced the types of threats which face us. Traditionally, camps were divided by nationalistic trends and aspirations. As the history of Europe has proven, national conflicts are solvable.
Today’s ideological conflicts based on extreme religious ideas, are much more complicated. Hizbullah, El-Kaida and the Hamas – organizations which uphold extreme ideological views – and states founded on radical ideologies – like Iran – pose a threat not only to Israel – but to a list of countries including European, Islamic and Arab states.
In this context we must see the global terrorism phenomena. The ongoing terrorist attacks around the world, from Madrid to Amman, from London to Jerusalem, all prove the fact that this battle is a global one, between the extremists and the moderates.
Middle East Conflict
In a similar way, the confrontation in the Middle East is a result of this process. In contrast to the accepted opinion, the tension in the Middle East is not due to a local dispute about territories or borders. The confrontation is a result of this extreme ideology, and not a cause of it.
European Regional Involvement
As those who stand in the forefront of that battle against terror and extremism, there are times that we feel that the moral proximity that exists between us, Israelis and Europeans, is not appreciated enough.
It may seem, sometimes, that there is a gap between the image of Israel in Europe and the reality of Israel. This gap creates frustration in Israel. In the past, this frustration led to an isolationist approach on behalf of Israel. Today, Israel follows a different policy. Along with active efforts to change the mistaken image, and from a deep understanding of the growing role of Europe in the world, we support increased European involvement in the Middle East.
A good example of this is European involvement in the implementation of Security Council 1701 regarding Lebanon. Israel led the efforts for introducing European forces as an important part of the new UNIFIL force in Lebanon.
In the Palestinian context, the EU is the largest donor to the region. We appreciate and cherish your contribution to the Palestinian people through the TIM. Europe is also actively present in the Southern part of Israel on the border with Egypt monitoring the Rafah Crossing. In addition, the European Union is an active member of the Quartet.
These new developments, with the full support of Israel, represent an important opportunity for European engagement.
No Compromise on core values
Yet, it must be said: Europe’s ability to be an influential international player in the region, is directly related to Israel’s feeling of confidence that Israel and Europe share the same core principles, and are willing to stand strong in defending them. We cannot compromise on our fundamental moral values.
We do not need mediators between Israel and the Palestinians. Israel and the Palestinians should engage directly. But, if we do share the same principles, we do expect that the European community will stand with determination and conviction in meeting the modern threats.
We cannot reveal understanding towards terror. We must fight it. We should not be tolerant of extremists. We must isolate them.
The European voice on this matter should be heard loud and clear, in strengthening the fragile moderate regimes and isolating the extremists. Strengthening the moderate regimes is not only supporting them, but also stressing your moral expectations of them.
Hamas and Hizbullah – refuse legitimacy
It is an accepted moral expectation that armed terror organizations do not participate in democratic elections and do not receive legitimacy. Surprisingly, we find two exceptions in this regard – the Hamas led Palestinian Authority and the Hezbollah involvement in the Lebanese government. They are given the right to manipulate the democratic system in order to further and promote their extreme hate ideology.
It is of vital importance that the EU uphold these principles, and make it clear that the Hamas led Palestinian Authority will not receive legitimacy unless they accept the three Quartet requirements of recognizing Israel’s right to exist, renouncing terrorism and adopting previous agreements between Israel and the PA.
Hope for positive change
The hope for a real change and genuine peace in the region requires a dual approach. On the one hand, enforcing the pressure on the extremists. On the other hand, engaging with and strengthening the moderates.
Israel will continue a dialogue with the moderates in the Palestinian Authority, as well as with the moderates in the Arab and Moslem world. We both have an interest in normalizing our relations, and enhancing true understanding and coexistence. In these and other efforts, the European community can play a key role.
Finally, I would like to say a few words about our bilateral relations. Part of the process of “rethinking Europe”, in a global village environment, is also fortifying alliances with your partners.
Israel, as a loyal partner of Europe, highly values its relations with the EU. The wide ranging areas of cooperation and the political depth that characterize our bilateral relations are an important asset to the State of Israel. The EU has become Israel’s largest trade partner, and the field of research and development is an additional element binding Israeli and European scientists and academics. Israel has participated in European R&D Programs for over a decade as a full member.
We would like to strengthen and enhance our relations with the EU even beyond what we have today. We believe that the time has come for upgrading our bilateral relations, even beyond the Neighborhood policy.
The European Union is still facing complex difficulties. Israel, too, faces significant regional challenges. I am confident that the fruitful cooperation between Israel and the EU will strengthen both sides, and will bring us closer to a more secure world based on our common values.