The ministerial meeting was held in order to sign nine agreements that will further strengthen bilateral cooperation.
(Communicated by the Prime Minister’s Media Adviser)
Following are Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s and Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi’s remarks at the joint meeting of Italian and Israeli ministers today (Tuesday), 2 February 2010:
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu: "Silvio Berlusconi defined Israeli-Italian relations as one of Italy’s five closest bilateral relationships. Then I would like to define Israeli-Italian relations as one of the closest relationships that Israel has with any country. We do not have a friendlier relationship. There are very friendly relations with the US and with other countries but there are none friendlier and we thus feel the close relationship between your country and your government, Silvio.
We are holding this ministerial meeting in order to sign nine agreements that will further strengthen bilateral cooperation. We have already managed to discuss diplomatic, security and economic issues, which are important for both of our countries and, in my estimation, for the entire world. I expect that this will also be the case for the agreements that we will sign at this meeting.
I again welcome you as friends, here in Jerusalem."
Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi: "Thank you very much, Benjamin.
We are also very happy to be here and at this reception. We are working together to make our relationship better and more efficient. On the bilateral level, the Italian and Israeli governments have always thought that the solution of two peoples is a fundamental solution for global peace.
Today, we are all the closer in the face of a dangerous situation that finds expression from a country that is trying to equip itself with atomic weapons and has said that it wants to erase Israel from the world map. This must interest the entire world. We are aware of the danger that this constitutes and we are aware of the fact that there must be unified action by the entire international community in order to prevent this, that this country, which has a leadership that, regrettably, brings to mind bad people from the past, should be able to attain, and equip itself with, atomic weapons.
Therefore, while we are here to cooperate regarding both the past and the future, we are aware, first and foremost, of the problem of Israel’s security.
The second thing is the problem that has to do with relations with the Palestinian Authority. Since 1994, Italy has prepared a Marshall Plan, a comprehensive plan, always in cooperation with Israel, in order to help develop the territories since we are convinced that peace can be genuine peace only if there is prosperity for both sides. We also continued to act in the same direction when we offered both our country as a place to host the roundtable, with we ourselves bearing all of the expenditures vis-à-vis everything regarding the Palestinians.
Therefore, we are always ready to extend our assistance so that this dialogue for peace may move forward. This second problem sees us alongside you on the ground so that we may achieve positive results as quickly as possible.
Regarding other matters, and regarding links between our ministers, we have the desire to always act with you, that there should be economic cooperation and very many possibilities for cooperation in those areas in which we recognize that you are at the forefront, especially regarding scientific and technological innovations.
Therefore, I ascribe very great importance to this bilateral summit. We have already spoken with Benjamin about the fact that next time this will have to be in Italy. We sincerely hope that all of the agreements that our ministers will sign will lead to increased cooperation between us and to greater economic ties.
Again, thank you very much for the moving way in which you have welcomed us. We are very grateful to you."