We have every reason to establish good contacts with Africa. We are working on three key issues: agriculture and the famine problem; water resources, which relate to our achievements in Israel; and public health.
(Translated from Russian)
Host: You are listening to REKA Radio Station. This is our afternoon "Daily News" program. We are going to talk to Foreign Minister Avigdor Liberman, who is in Nigeria now.
Hello, Mr. Foreign Minister. Your visit to Africa is the first visit by a Foreign Minister to the continent after a very long time.
Foreign Minister Avigdor Liberman: Golda Meir was the last to visit Africa as a Minister of Foreign Affairs. It was over forty years ago. Our absence from Africa certainly affects our status in the international arena. So-called non-allied nations or third world states, including African states, are now dominating each and every international forum. A long-term lack of contact and dialogue, both with Africa and South America, has greatly affected our status and political position at all international forums.
Host: How would you explain this non-presence of Israel on these continents?
Foreign Minister Avigdor Liberman: It’s hard to explain, but it’s a fact, which contrasts dramatically with current international developments. This year alone, Africa has been visited by President Obama, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, and Chairman of the People’s Republic of China Hu Jintao. Furthermore, there were over 20 visits by the Iranians, including the President of Iran. All other key players in the Islamic Republics have also visited Africa over 20 times this year. By the way, it is no mere chance that they visit the countries that we call "Tiran Africa" in Hebrew. These border the Red Sea and are strategically importance for us, such as Ethiopia, Eritrea, and Somalia. Therefore, the lack of activities is noticeable. We paid a high price in the international arena. I’m not going to reinvent the wheel by saying that if high-ranking officials of these states choose to be active, they must have their reasons. Moreover, lately, the largest sources of energy and raw materials in the world have been discovered in Africa. We have every reason to establish good contacts with Africa.
Host: Mr. Liberman, can you summarize the meetings that you’ve already had?
Foreign Minister Avigdor Liberman: They were a great success. We have so much to give. Everybody is waiting for our help or our solutions on the following three key issues – first, agriculture and the famine problem; second, water resources, which relate to our achievements in Israel, and the third, health issues, public health. We are working on all three of these issues. I’m here with major business representatives of over 20 of Israel’s largest companies. They are also discovering Africa. Actually, judging by the reaction at all levels throughout Africa and its mass media, this visit is more than successful.
Host: Regarding the construction freeze in Israeli settlements: this morning, while speaking to Israeli Radio’s Reshet Bet, you emphasized that you are going to support Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.
Foreign Minister Avigdor Liberman: No, I’ve emphasized that it’s not about freezing. To the contrary – we wish to provide normal living conditions for settlers. This year, construction has been permitted in each and every city, town, and village in Israel except for those in Judea and Samaria (West Bank). This discriminates against the people who choose to settle there, when asked to do so by the government. They have every legal right to be there, and we have to let them grow.
The second issue certainly relates to Jerusalem. There can be no restrictions here; we have neither to negotiate with anyone, nor to restrict our construction in the city. And the third, we have to confirm our agreements with the Bush Administration. It is unacceptable that we have an agreement and understanding with the world’s greatest nation – and suddenly nobody knows about it, as if it doesn’t exist at all. Confirming these agreements will be another key issue.
Host: Foreign Minister Avigdor Liberman from Nigeria. Thank you very much and good luck during your visit.