MULTILATERAL PEACE TALKS
WORKING GROUP ON REGIONAL ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT
COPENHAGEN, NOVEMBER 8-9, 1993
For the first time since the working group on Regional Economic Development began its work, agreement was reached among all the participating states (including 14 Arab countries) on the ‘Copenhagen Action Plan’. The plan comprises 35 ventures (projects, workshops and feasibility studies) in ten different areas (communications, transportation, energy, tourism, agriculture, financial markets and investment, trade, training, regional networks and bibliography).
Among the various projects, the following can be noted:
– A feasibility study for an Aqaba-Eilat-Egypt highway.
– An engineering study for an Amman-Jericho-Jerusalem highway.
– A feasibility study for an Egypt-Gaza gas pipeline.
– A Japanese initiative for a tourism working group to be held in Cairo in February 1994.
– A workshop on the preparation of tour packages to be sponsored by the U.S. and the European Community.
– A workshop on hotel management to be sponsored by Switzerland.
– A workshop for the private sector on the business, legal and administrative situation in the region.
– A British-sponsored conference on financial markets.
– An American-sponsored regional conference of businessmen (15 participants from each side).
– A survey on linking the electricity grids in the region.
– A survey of existing studies on hydroelectric power, a Dead Sea – Red Sea canal, and a Dead Sea – Mediterranean canal.
– The establishment of a network for cooperation among universities, cities and members of the media.
– A symposium on education in the region; and more.
The Governor of the Bank of Israel, Prof. Ya’acov Frenkel, said in the course of the meeting that ‘Israel attaches great importance to the reflection of the political breakthrough with the Palestinians in the talks on regional economic development.’
Foreign Ministry Director-General Uri Savir said in his concluding remarks that, ‘Ultimately, bilateral peace and multilateral peace are one and the same.’ Savir referred in his remarks to the progress achieved in the course of the meeting in Copenhagen, and said: ‘At this meeting, we moved a step forward in the direction of practical application. For the first time, the working group on Regional Economic Development is engaging in substance, abandoning the academic discussions which characterized its work in the past. Agreement on specific points was reached between Israel and the Arab states in the region.’
In the course of the meeting, the participants agreed to cooperate to remove the bureaucratic restrictions impeding private enterprise in each state, especially in the areas of trade and tourism. All speakers referred in their concluding remarks to the importance of taking concrete steps that will lead to cooperation between states, increase opportunities, and foster conditions favorable to private enterprise. The Israeli participants noted that the concluding resolution was adopted by consensus, without opposition.
Morocco and Germany both offered to host the next meeting of the working group on regional economic development, and the matter will be reviewed by the Americans in the framework of the steering committee, which will convene in December in Tokyo. It was decided that, prior to the next meeting, there will be an official progress report on the various projects and surveys.