Defying the EU, Visegrad Group welcomes Netanyahu, agrees to hold next summit in Israel; Countries strengthen ties
I’m happy the Visegrad Group accepted my invitation to hold its next summit in Israel. As the Jewish people say: Next year in Jerusalem! pic.twitter.com/7Wu0gTp6Rj
— Benjamin Netanyahu (@netanyahu) 19 juli 2017
In a Joint Statement (PDF), the Prime Ministers of the Visegrad Group (Czech Republic, Hungary, Poland and Slovakia) and their guest, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, the five leaders reiterated their commitment towards the enhancement of EU-Israel relations. They underlined the need to promote an improved relationship between Israel and the European Union and showed a strong interest in convening the EU-Israel Association Council (PDF) as soon as possible. The voiced hope is that this could lead to the setting of new partnership priorities, in accordance with the reviewed European Neighbourhood Policy.
The Visegrad Group (V4) and Israel emphasised that developments in the Middle East and Northern Africa, especially the conflicts in Syria, Libya, Iraq and Yemen, have serious implications for the security situation of the international community as a whole. All present shared the view that it is necessary to strengthen global and regional efforts in countering terrorism.
“They strongly and unequivocally condemned recent terrorist attacks, including those in Israel and across the world, and stressed that terrorism continues to be a troubling phenomenon of our times and represents a serious threat to international peace and security. The leaders agreed to exchange views on their efforts aimed at fighting terrorism and countering violent extremism and incitement. The five leaders agreed to explore the possibility of further strengthening joint cooperation in the areas of defense and defense industry, cyber security, hybrid threats, non-proliferation and information and know-how sharing.”
Reuters reported on the meeting by claiming it has obtained an audio recording of remarks made by Netanyahu behind closed doors, where he said:
“I think Europe has to decide whether it wants to live and thrive or it wants to shrivel and disappear. It’s a joke. But the truth is the truth, both about Europe’s security and Europe’s economic future. And both of these concerns mandate a different policy toward Israel.“
According to the Washington Post, Netanyahu said:
“There is no logic here. Europe is undermining its security by undermining Israel. Europe is undermining its progress by undermining the connection with Israeli innovation because of a crazy attempt to create conditions (for peace with the Palestinians).“
During the press conference, Netanyahu said that:
“There is a new anti-Semitism that is expressed in anti-Zionism that is delegitimizing the one and only Jewish state. In many ways, Hungary is at the forefront of the states that are opposed to this anti-Jewish policy, and I welcome it and express the appreciation of my government and the many people of Israel. Standing with Israel is also standing with the truth.“
A sentiment Hungarian Prime Minister Orbán seemed to echo when he said that:
“The EU should value the efforts made by the state of Israel for stability in the region. This is of interest not only for Israel but for Europe, too, as it protects us from more and more migrant invasions. The EU’s relations with Israel are not rational enough and need to be repaired, instead of criticizing Israel, we should open the door to cooperation with Israel.“
Orbán assured Netanyahu that Hungary accepts Israel’s right to self-defence, and regards it as similar to Hungary’s demand of the right to self-defence against foreign pressure, calling for the relocation of illegal migrants to Hungary.
“Israel teaches the world and thus Hungarians, too, that we will lose that for which we do not fight.In the modern world, we have to struggle for everything. (…) I am pleased that today we could receive a committed patriot here in Budapest. Today, I am convinced that patriotic governments are successful governments. And the successful states will be those who do not quash national identities and national interests but perhaps instead put them first in their work.“
Following my meeting with the Visegrad Group, I met with Czech PM Bohuslav Sobotka, Polish PM Beata Szydlo & Slovak PM Robert Fico. pic.twitter.com/n9lMlyqOdF
— Benjamin Netanyahu (@netanyahu) July 19, 2017