TEL AVIV, Israel, November 24, 2011 /PRNewswire/ --
Conference also calls on Russia and Israel to begin dialogue on closer bilateral relations
A panel of Israeli and European politicians has called for closer bilateral relations between Israel and Russia, and Russia and the EU to improve their cooperation, at an international conference in Tel Aviv today.
In light of the Eurozone crisis, unrest in the Middle East, and debate over Iranian nuclear armament, the panel of politicians, academics, and opinion formers , called for a renewed effort to cement and further economic and political ties between the two nations.
It was on the issue of security where calls were most prominent.
Speaking at the conference, the Israeli Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs Daniel Ayalon called for greater economic integration and political cohesion: "Russia is one of the most important allies we have..The Middle East as a region affects the stability of Europe, Russia and the rest of the world..These issues demand that we work together."
Ayalon, noting common strategic goals shared by Israel and Russia, called for greater cooperation around infrastructure, construction, science and trade.
"Both Israel and Russia have to play a role in regional stability, including fighting terror…We have an opportunity now to stop Iran's nuclear ambition. It is not too late for sanctions. Russia and Israel can lead to ensure a safer future for the region," said Yuli-Yoel Edelstein, minister of public diplomacy and Diaspora affairs, Israel.
"We (Russia) must renew our relations with Europe, the Middle East and former Soviet countries. These new relationships are important given the current global issues. We must strive for greater integration," said Mikhail Starshinov, Member of the State Duma of Federal Assembly of the Russian Federation.
The panel, which includes the recently former Italian Minister of Foreign Affairs, Franco Frattini, called the relationship between Israel and Russia "significant" and "relevant."
It was also agreed that the return of Putin as President of Russia in the 2012 Presidential elections would ensure a stability in Russia and continuity of Russian foreign policy.
"I am pleased that the President of Russia will be the leader of the largest party of the country, the current Prime Minister Vladimir Putin. I believe that this demonstrates the continuity and stability that the world needs in times of economic and political turmoil ", said Franco Frattini.
"Putin is very important to us, that he understands the issues that face our region. As an incredibly important world leader his opinion is highly respected", explained Itzhak Herzog, MP and former minister of Welfare and Social Affairs..
It is widely expected that current Russian Prime Minister, Vladimir Putin, will return as president of Russia in the 2012 elections. "Putin is very popular in his country. We all remember the period when he was President, Russia enjoyed stable and steady economic growth. At the same time Washington is making serious mistake in continuing its strategy of the world dominant", stated Anthony Salvia, Director of an American think tank American Institute in Ukraine.
The panel concluded that it was agreed that stability, such as that enjoyed by Russia, is vital for the development of international ties.
Organised by the Israel Association of Russian Speaking Journalists, in association with the Moscow based think-tank, the Institute of International Integration Studies (IIIS), the conference, entitled 'The Development of Israel-Russia-EU Relations', was held at the David Intercontinental Hotel, Tel Aviv, Israel.
Israel and Russia share close cultural ties. Some 20% of Israel's population comprises immigrants from the former Soviet Union and another 20% have similar roots. Russian is now the third most widely spoken first language in Israel and has the largest number of Russian speakers outside of former Soviet countries.
Participants in the panel discussions included Franco Frattini, former Minister of Foreign Affairs of Italy; Daniel Ayalon, MK, Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs, Israel; David Hill, former Director of Communications for Prime Minister Tony Blair, UK; Ze'ev Elkin MK, Chairman of the Coalition of the Israeli Parliament; Tzachi Hanegbi, former minister and Chairman of the Knesset's Security and Foreign Affairs Committee; Itzhak Herzog, former minister of welfare and social affairs, Israel; and Mikhail Starshinov, member of the State Duma of the Federal Assembly of the Russian Federation; as well as a number of European politicians and academics.
SOURCE THE INSTITUTE OF INTERNATIONAL INTEGRATION STUDIES