Deputy Foreign Minister of Israel
Conference on Security and Cooperation in Europe (CSCE) Review Conference
Budapest, October 13, 1994
Mr. Chairman, Distinguished delegates,
Let me begin by thanking you for the invitation and opportunity to speak before this prominent forum today.
I am especially glad that this conference is taking place here in Budapest – in a country that, following the democratic revolution that occurred in this part of Europe, was the first to re-establish diplomatic relations with Israel in 1989. Since then we have maintained excellent ties of cooperation.
Our part of the world has gone through a significant change this year. You, delegates from the member countries of the CSCE, represent a process that can proudly claim a major role in the establishment of peace and democratic values in all of Europe.
Israel is following with great interest the major transformations that are taking place in your continent. It seems to us that Europe and its main institutions are undergoing a process of re-definition of many major areas.
In the Middle East we are experiencing a similar process of redefinition. This is mainly expressed by the peace process which is about to change the face of the entire region.
These processes in Europe and the Middle East pose questions and challenges in the context of defining the relations between the Middle East, the Mediterranean Basin and Europe.
During the last three years the Middle East has gradually but steadily started its long-awaited journey toward conflict resolution and reconciliation. The breakthrough with the PLO and Jordan, the multilateral negotiations, and the growing volume of bilateral open contacts with Arab states have broken new grounds. This leads us to believe that the dream of establishing a Middle Eastern community of cooperative and comprehensive security is increasingly becoming a distinct possibility.
Two hundred years ago, the German philosopher, Immanuel Kant, predicted that law abiding nations would eventually constitute themselves into a "league of peace". Kant distinguished between a league of peace and a peace treaty, the latter merely seeking to stop war as a means of settling international disputes.
I was privileged to closely accompany the peace process in recent years, and primarily the multilateral negotiations and the activity within its five working groups: Arms Control, Water, Refugees, Regional Economic Cooperation and Environment.
A deep belief in the need to begin a process of regional cooperation in the Middle East was the fundamental conviction bolstering initiative to develop the multilateral track. The goal of this cooperation is to establish the basis for a shared experience as we come to terms with common problems, and work together to find solutions to regional challenges. The concept of these working groups is somewhat similar to the concept of "baskets" in the CSCE process.
When we compare the activity within the Arms Control and Regional Security working group to the process developed with the CSCE, we undoubtedly find many differences arising from the different conditions prevailing in our two regions. We can elaborate on this subject within the deliberations of the relevant working groups of the review conference.
However, we are certain that we can learn from the experience of the CSCE process, and implement in the Middle East various approaches that were developed to deal with security problems.
Israel believes that the European example demonstrates that it is possible to minimize distrust and achieve more security for the respective parties through a series of CBMs.
I am glad to point out that already now, within the framework of the working group on Arms Control and Regional Security, we are drawing from CSCE experience and institutions such as the Communications Center in the Hague, and the Conflict Prevention Center in Vienna.
Peace can be secured only if it brings real economic benefits, including enhanced trade, foreign investment, international assistance, reduced military spending and economic reforms. Only when the citizens of the Middle East see their surroundings change, and their livelihoods improve, will they be able to think of each other as neighbours with common goals.
Therefore, the activity of the Regional Economic Development working group within the multilateral track, with the European Union as its leader, is essential and has already achieved significant progress.
On the 30th of this month, under the presidency of His Majesty King Hassan II of Morocco, and at the invitation of Honorary Co-Chairs President Clinton of the U.S.A. and President Yeltsin of Russia, about 1,000 leaders of governments, and businessmen will convene in Casablanca, Morocco.
The major goal of this gathering is to form a new partnership of governments and business to achieve a better life for the peoples of the Middle East and North Africa. The Casablanca conference was conceived as the first step towards establishing institutions and creating links between governments and leaders who are dedicated to the economic improvement of the region and its people.
The world is moving from military might to social priorities. We have no doubt that the economic aspects, or if you will, the economic basket, is of the utmost importance.
The CSCE should devote its effective efforts in ensuring the right of minorities as well as efforts in confronting the tendencies in Europe to deny the existence of volume of the Holocaust, and those aiming at granting rehabilitation in particular in East and Central Europe – to nationalist leaders who collaborated with the Nazi and Fascist regimes in the extermination of Jews.
We call upon all the members of the CSCE to put more emphasis on the educational aspects against xenophobia, racism and antisemitism. Israel will be ready, whenever and wherever requested to cooperate in this regard.
In recent years, the world, and especially Europe, have witnessed an alarming growth in violence, intolerance and propaganda on the part of extreme right-wing elements and racists against immigrants, migrant workers, asylum seekers, and Jewish communities. This wave of racism and antisemitism has threatened to undermine the social fabric and the democratic foundations in some countries. Extreme right-wing elements have also achieved significant electoral results. World public opinion has denounced these phenomena. The European parliament and the UN Human Rights Committee adopted resolutions calling for action.
The government of Israel feels an obligation to lead the fight against these developments and is encouraged by the steps taken by the various governments and international organization. Israel is calling upon them to further strengthen and enhance those measures.
The peace process is progressing at an extraordinary pace. In recent days we have established relations with Morocco and Tunisia a step that paves the way for closer cooperation in the Mediterranean.
There is growing recognition that the geographical proximity between Europe and the Middle East has strategic implications. Consequently, security in Europe is greatly affected by security in the Mediterranean and peace in Europe is closely related to peace in the Middle East.
The process of the CSCE could undoubtedly help shape a new Middle East. Its accumulated experience may shorten the process in our region. We, therefore, reiterate our interest in enhancing the dialogue and cooperation with the CSCE and its institutions.
Israel strongly believes that the time is right and the conditions ripe to study the experience of other regions in the world in strengthening the foundations of cooperative security. We may start with periodic meetings at the ministerial level to discuss issues and topics conducive to greater regional cooperation.
Borrowing the concept of the three baskets from the CSCE model, we can jointly study the feasibility of launching a similar process in the Middle East.
Let me emphasize that a CSCME has very little to do with affection. It is an ambitious attempt to replace the more classical view of security by substituting the old notions of deterrence and military preparedness with confidence building measures. In due time, confidence will lead to the establishment of mutual trust and institutions aimed at preventing war and enhancing cooperation.
Madrid, Oslo, Cairo, Washington and Aqaba are milestones in the emergence of a new Middle East. We cannot turn back. The future holds the promise of a better, more prosperous and more secure Middle East. The foundations have been laid. It is up to us to determine the rest of the journey, and build a better world for our children.