The bilateral agreement reached signed today by the Chancellor of Germany Angela Merkel and the Prime Minister of Israel Ehud Olmert, represents the clear intentions of promoting and upgrading the strategic relations between our countries on all issues.

 Bilateral agreements reached at first Israeli-German intergovernmental consultations

 

Israel PM Olmert and German Chancellor Merkel sign agreements (Photo: GPO)

Bilateral Agreements Reached at the
First Israeli-German Intergovernmental Consultations
Chaired by Chancellor Angela Merkel and Prime Minister Ehud Olmert held in Israel on 17 March 2008

The Governments of the Federal Republic of Germany and the State of Israel held intergovernmental consultations for the first time on the occasion of the 60th anniversary of the founding of the State of Israel. The consultations were chaired by the respective Heads of Government, Chancellor Angela Merkel of the Federal Republic of Germany and Prime Minister Ehud Olmert of the State of Israel. The objective of the consultations is to solidify the unique relationship between Germany and Israel through political measures which look towards the future while recognizing Germany’s awareness of its historic responsibility towards Israel. The German participants reiterate Germany’s responsibility for past history and for the Shoah and in this context, recognition was given visible form in a joint visit to Yad Vashem by the consultations’ participants.

Both sides share their intention that Israeli-German consultations will be held regularly from now on and that the next bilateral consultations shall be in Germany during 2009.

The two sides seek to strengthen and intensify their political, cultural, economic and societal relations as a partnership of democratic and pluralistic nations. The consultations comprise bilateral talks between the participants, a joint cabinet meeting and a joint luncheon. These are complemented by forums in the fields of economics, science and the environment, where leading representatives from both countries discuss specific options for cooperation in these fields.

The following Government members take part in the consultations:
On the German side: Federal Ministers: Dr. Frank-Walter Steinmeier, Brigitte Zypries, Michael Glos, Dr. Franz-Josef Jung, Dr. Ursula von der Leyen, Sigmar Gabriel, Dr. Annette Schavan.

On the Israeli side Ministers: Tzipi Livni, Ehud Barak, Eli Yishai, Prof. Daniel Friedman, Prof. Yael Tamir, Gideon Ezra, Ghaleb Majadle and Ruchama Abraham.

Bilateral cooperation shall:

  • be substantially promoted, in particular in the fields of economics, science and innovation;
  • strengthen our societal relations;
  • strengthen and promote youth exchange;
  • further develop a realistic mutual image between the countries
  • successfully shape the handover of relations to future generations.

Foreign Relations

Germany and Israel intend to have a regular exchange of views on international affairs, especially on issues in the field of International Organisations, the Middle-East, and Euro-Asia as well as on issues dealing with security policy.

Both sides noted positively that the German Presidency of the European Union helped increase the cooperation between the EU and Israel. 

The two ministries of Foreign Affairs will intensify the cooperation between the diplomats of both countries and establish an annual Diplomatic Summer Seminar.

In 2008 Germany and Israel will found the Israeli-German Future Forum. This joint foundation is aimed at creating a network of young multiplicators from the two countries and will promote innovative and future-oriented: cultural, economic, scientific and media projects.

Both Foreign Ministers emphasized the importance that in 2008, in cooperation with the Hebrew University of Jerusalem and the University of Haifa, two Centres for German Studies will be set up. These German Academic Exchange Service centres, financed from Federal Foreign Office funds, shall promote academic encounter with Germany and aim to network the two countries’ young academic elites.

The foreign ministries noted positively that Germany will pay tribute to the 60th Anniversary of the founding of Israel and to the active and varied cultural exchange by holding the first German Cultural Weeks in Israel in 2008. These will include the first German Film Festival in Jerusalem, Tel Aviv and Haifa, the program for which will be drawn up in cooperation with the Berlinale. It will present current German films and aims to further network film makers from the two countries.

Military Cooperation

The Ministers of Defense conducted talks regarding military and security cooperation between the two countries. Both ministers noted that since the early 1980s military and security cooperation has consistently increased. For some years now the two ministries of Defence have conducted an annual Strategic Dialogue. Alongside military and armaments themes, a constant feature of that dialogue has been a discussion of current challenges and threats. During their meeting, both Ministers discussed the technological projects of mutual interest, inter alia in the area of force protection. It is agreed by both sides that this dialogue shall be continued.

Initiatives for field training and mutual exchanges of staff officers at our reciprocal military colleges were also agreed upon. The intention of both countries is to extend the exchange of army officer cadets, a program launched in 1998, to include personnel from the Navy and Air Force. Furthermore, additional potential initiatives for cooperation are being examined, such as cooperation between the two countries medical corps.

Both sides expressed the desire that through these joint projects and exchanges, the cooperation and friendship between our countries’ defense establishments will continue to flourish.

The ministers signed a MOU exemplifying the deepening of cooperation between our countries.

Economics

The traditionally amicable economic relations between Germany and Israel are a firm pillar of our bilateral ties. The high level of trade in goods, services and investments means that our two countries’ peoples are also getting closer. Both parties are committed to developing and further diversifying their economic, industrial and technological cooperation.

To support this trend, today’s consultations also included as an important component an economic forum which, parallel the meeting of Federal Minister Glos and Minister Eli Yishai, also featured leading Israeli and German businessmen. We agreed to hold a major German-Israeli business event in Germany this year. We agreed to increase our mutual investments even further in the future. First Israeli-German Investment and Venture Capital Events will take place within the next months and illustrate options for upgrading investment, in areas such as in life sciences, environment technologies and energy. Both sides agreed to initiate joint projects to promote companies from both countries as leaders in energy efficiency.

The Minister of Economy and Technology of the Federal Republic of Germany Mr. Michael Glos and Deputy Prime Minister & the Minister of Industry, Trade and Labor of the State of Israel Mr. Eliyahu Yishai signed an Agreed Minutes of their Meeting reflecting the economic relations between the two countries on the above mentioned topics.

Science and Research

Our long-standing and highly successful cooperation in science and technology is broad based and includes a wide range of themes. Since the early 1960s over 25,000 scientists from the two countries have worked together.

On 8 April 2008 the Federal Minister of Education and Research, Dr Annette Schavan, and her Israeli counterpart, the Minister of Science, Culture and Sport, Galeb Majadle, will jointly open the German-Israeli Year of Science and Technology in Berlin. The objective is to make the level of scientific cooperation known to a wider public and to further intensify and increase that cooperation. Academic and cultural research is to be strengthened by the end of this year with the founding of a new Minerva Centre. In order to further promote young scientists within that cooperation and to improve their prospects, a Young Scientist Prize will be created in 2008 and awarded annually in future.

In November the German-Israeli Foundation for Scientific Research and Development (GIF) celebrates its 20th Anniversary. This foundation, financed by Germany and Israel, promotes top level research in almost all scientific disciplines, each year focussing on a different subject. The annual budget for promoting projects is approximately 11 million euro. Further impetus for cooperation is expected from the numerous events held during the German-Israeli Year of Science and Technology.

Germany and Israel have agreed to extend research cooperation to include a new theme – civilian security research. The task is to pool competencies in science, research and industry in order to jointly develop innovative solutions to protect our peoples against changing risks such as terrorism and natural disasters.

In addition, the Israeli side presented the idea of a new scientific area named Cleantech to be a possible new field of cooperation in environment and water which has been carried out for more than 30 years.

The relationships in science and research are characterized by a dynamic cooperation for nearly five decades. Enhancing and intensifying them will continue to be a declared goal of joint action in future

Youth

German-Israeli youth exchange has in recent years not only stabilized but increased. In 2007 a similar level to the late 1990’s was reached once again, with over 200 non-school exchange programs for young people and young professionals, comprising approximately 5,000 participants.

School and youth exchange has a great importance in promoting mutual understanding to young people in our countries. Therefore it will play a central role in our countries’ future relations. The establishment of coordination offices, agreed in 2000, was implemented in 2001 in Germany with the creation of ConAct in Wittenberg, while in Israel the Israel Youth Exchange Council was entrusted with this task.

In the year 2008, government institutions will continue to advise and enable contact between youth and in addition to a considerable number of their own projects they will financially support an increasing number of events

Both sides will continue to financially support the growing number of exchange activities.

Both sides agreed on the great importance of promoting mutual understanding and dialogue among young people between both countries and coping with conflicts in a multicultural society.

Environment

Based on the German-Israeli Agreement on Cooperation in Environmental Matters and Nature Conservation of 17 March 1993 and the Memorandum of Understanding on Cooperation regarding Clean Development Mechanism (CDM) Projects of 12 February 2008, Federal Minister for the Environment, Nature Conservation and Nuclear Safety Sigmar Gabriel and Environment Minister Gideon Ezra agreed to intensify the bilateral cooperation in the important areas of climate change, energy efficiency, renewable energy, water and waste management.

The bilateral water cooperation will involve the German Water Partnership, which will be launched in May 2008 as a collaboration between public and private companies from the water sector, water research organizations, professional associations and the relevant Federal Ministries.

The bilateral climate-change cooperation will focus on institutional capacity-building, professional training, the establishment of a voluntary greenhouse-gas accounting system and advancing programmatic CDM.

In this context the joint consultations included an environment forum with Federal Minister Gabriel, Minister Ezra and Israeli and German businessmen in order to facilitate a prompt start to this important common effort concerning climate change.

Water Management

In the field of water supply and distribution the two delegations discussed options for cooperation. One important reference point is Israel’s experience through Mashav, the Center for International Cooperation within the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, regarding water and irrigated agriculture in arid and semi-arid regions and Germany’s strong commitment, in particular towards water supply.

The two delegations agreed that training measures for agricultural irrigation represent a meaningful cooperation project. Specific measures could be advisory services training for African experts in regional centres of excellence in Africa, or within the framework of training programs in Germany or in Israel, as well as training measures for regional agricultural experts from Ethiopia in the field of small-scale irrigation.
 
The two delegations want to bring their capabilities, competencies, particularities and strengths into the cooperation. Each side’s comparative advantages are to be exploited. Consultations are to be held with the selected partner countries and relevant target groups.

Both sides will appoint contact partners within their relevant ministries, exchange detailed information on relevant projects and programs, make suggestions on specific partner countries and regions, and identify appropriate implementation modalities, including the timeframe for such implementation.
 
Home Affairs

Israel and Germany work closely together in a spirit of trust in the fight against international terrorism. Cross-border terror networks can only be countered through joint action by the international community. Germany therefore supports the Israeli Government’s proposal to organize a conference this summer with friendly states and with the inclusion of the Palestinian Authority, in order to discuss further steps to create an anti-terrorism network.

Justice

The German and Israeli Ministries of Justice commend existing successful and sustained bilateral legal cooperation, since the 22 August 1989 agreement between our Ministries of Justice, and support the continuation and intensification of this cooperation. In particular, we welcome bilateral cooperation in the areas of exchange of lawyers, exchange of information, study visits and joint seminars in professional fields of mutual interest such as comparative law and international legal assistance in criminal-law and civil-law matters. We also promote exchange between our Supreme Courts, and cooperation between the ministries in international forums.

Both sides made particular note of the vibrant exchange program between the Ministries. In addition to past visits, the Federal Minister of Justice has now invited a high-level delegation from the Israeli Ministry of Justice to Berlin for expert talks in 2009. Israel’s Minister of Justice expresses his gratitude for the invitation, and would like to extend an invitation for a German delegation of experts in Israel the following year.

In addition, the exchange and encounter of young lawyers is to be continued and intensified. In this regard the exemplary work done by the German-Israeli Lawyers’ Association is supported and promoted by the German Federal Minister of Justice.

We note with satisfaction that the necessary amendments to the provisions on the archives and documents of the International Tracing Service (ITS) in Bad Arolsen have entered into force, thus creating the conditions for access by Israel to all ITS data. The German Federal Ministry of Justice will support the necessary steps to ensure that the transfer to Israel of the digitalized data is also brought to a conclusion.

Societal Contacts

The two Governments agreed that societal contacts between Germany and Israel play a major role in intensifying and strengthing our relations. The Governments express their gratitude to all institutions, associations and private persons involved in exchange between our two countries.

The Israeli Government expressed its thanks to the German Government and its institutions, as well to the German civil society, among them the DIG (German-Israeli Friendship Association), which were involved in celebrating the 60th anniversary of the State of Israel.

Parliament

The governments welcome that the German Bundestag and the Knesset, represented by the Chairpersons of the German-Israeli friendship groups; and underlined their close cooperation.
On the occasion of the Inter-governmental Consultations, both sides support the decleration of the German-Israeli parliamentary friendship group’s chairpersons whom declared:

There have for many years now been extensive and intensive links between the Knesset MPs and the German Bundestag. Expert committees from the two parliaments constantly exchange views on issues of mutual interest, and visits to Jerusalem and Berlin have long been part of the parliamentary agenda.

Special mention must be made of the German-Israeli Parliamentary Friendship Groups in the Bundestag and its counterpart in the Knesset. Mutual visits deepen mutual understanding, particularly among those parliamentarians for whom good German-Israeli relations are of special concern. The fact that the German-Israeli Friendship Group is the second-largest such group in the Bundestag demonstrates the significance attached to German-Israeli links.

It is especially pleasing that the two parliaments will in the near future participate in the International Parliamentary Scholarship, which gives young German and Israeli academics the opportunity to experience democracy and parliamentary work in the other country at first hand and in a very practical way.

Summary

The bilateral agreement reached during the inter-governmental consultations, signed today between Germany and Israel, by the Chancellor of Germany Angela Merkel and the Prime Minister of Israel Ehud Olmert, represents the clear intentions of promoting and upgrading the strategic relations between our countries on all issues. Both sides are committed to strengthening the cooperation and friendship between the countries and between the two nations. Both leaders are dedicated to continuing the dialogue between the countries, at all levels of government, to ensure that the goals, projects and understandings reached in the framework of these consultations are fully established and implemented.

Signed in two identical copies in the English language on the 17th day of March, 2008, corresponding to the 10th day of Adar Bet 5768, in the Hebrew Calander.

____________________        _______________ 
Chancellor of the Federal         Prime Minister of
Repbulic of Germany                The State of Israel