While Brussels faced yet another heightened security alert, President Reuven Rivlin today (Tuesday) continued his official visit to the European Union and Brussels by holding a working meeting with President of the European Council Donald Tusk.
During their meeting, President Tusk asked to hear from the President about his regional outlook, and the challenges which Israel currently faced. The two spoke about the importance of restarting the negotiations between Israel and the Palestinians, as well as about the situation in Syria and Lebanon, and global phenomenon of the Islamic State.
At the conclusion of their meeting, the two Presidents delivered media statements. President Rivlin thanked President Tusk for his welcome, and said "You are a true friend of Israel". He went on to stress, "This is my first visit as the President of the State of Israel to the EU institutions. I see it as a sign of the great importance of the relations between the State of Israel and the European Union. The European Union is Israel's largest partner in all areas: trade, science, environment and culture. As a leading force in science and innovation, Israel is proud to share its technology, research and development with Europe."
The President went on to reiterate that the cooperation between Israel and the EU was not only out of shared interests, and said, "We share the most basic values of democracy, freedom of speech, liberalism, and human dignity. These values are a strong base to increase cooperation, in more areas."
The President also spoke of the importance to Israel of the peace process, but that this issue should not hinder cooperation between Israel and the EU. He said, "Promoting peace in the Middle East is a vital interest of Israel. At the same time, I believe that our special bi-lateral relations can grow and develop in an independent way. I remember your personal commitment as Prime Minster to increase Poland's public awareness of the Holocaust, and of the struggle against anti-Semitism. The task of fighting anti-Semitism and educating young and old people is still ahead of us. We must fight the old virus of anti-Semitism."
President Tusk thanked the President for his words and said, " Today I had the pleasure to host President Rivlin in Brussels, and to thank him for the hospitality that I received in Israel. As we have discussed today, the European Union and Israel are strong partners, we share many values and cooperate closely across many areas. Together we have built the most highly developed relationship that the European Union enjoys in the region. We also discussed how best to protect Israeli and European citizens against terrorists. I think that Brussels is one of the best places to discuss this issue. I expressed again my condolences for the victims of the recent attack in Tel Aviv, and I welcomed Israel’s offer to deepen our cooperation on counter-terrorism. Terrorism can only be defeated if we face it together."
On the issue of the Israel-Palestinian peace process President Tusk said, "A lasting peace in the region has been made a top priority for the European community, we continue to work with both sides and to coordinate with the partners in the Middle East in order to support the ‘two state solution’. The European Union is ready back up a peace deal with an unprecedented package of cooperation and support to both sides. The European Union will continue to provide assistance to Palestinians living in the West Bank and the Gaza Strip to enable them to meet their basic humanitarian and development needs."
After his meeting with President Tusk, President Rivlin travelled to Antwerp as guest of the Mayor of the Cit. There he was due visit the Red Star Line Museum, and meet with leaders of faith communities.