Foreign Minister and Deputy Prime Minister Avigdor Lieberman believes the Europeans are willing to listen to his controversial views. "We managed to raise many questions about the essence of the processes and perceptions which were accepted until now, he said Friday morning in an interview to Ynet, shortly after returning from his first official visit abroad since taking office.
"My feeling, which is different from what is reported here, is that I was greeted in Europe with a willingness to listen," he noted.
Lieberman, who assumed the role of foreign minister about a month ago with a series of unusual remarks which sparked a wave of responses across the world, seeks to tone things down.
"I reached an agreement with all the foreign ministers I met that after May 18, that day Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's meets with President Barack Obama in Washington, I will update everyone on our new policy.
"In the meantime we kept a low profile, because we decided not to run wild before May 18," he said.
According to Lieberman, "The last meeting yesterday, with German Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier, was fantastic." In the meeting, Lieberman stressed the struggle between the moderates and the extremists in the Middle East.
"We basically support the Palestinian Authority, which Hamas and Jihad fight against," the foreign minister said in regards to the Palestinian issue.
Lieberman with French Foreign Minister Bernard Kouchner (Photo: AFP)
Following warnings on the part of the European Union – that upgrading its relations with Israel would wait until progress was made in the peace process with the Palestinians – Lieberman says he asked his German counterpart to separate between the issues at the Council of Europe which is scheduled to convene on June 18. "I asked him, and Steinmeier at least sounded very positive."
'Iranians playing for time'The foreign minister speaks about "an immense interest" in his views on the part of heads of state and journalists. In Italy and Germany he met with editors of leading newspapers, "with whom I also had good meeting," he says.
According to Lieberman, "The two states for two people issue was raised, but it was not a key topic like the Iranian issue, for example. I made it clear everywhere that Iran is a threat to world peace.
"I understood from the Europeans that the Iranians are trying to play for time. They conveyed a message to the Europeans that they are now busy with the internal elections, and after the elections they have their holiday, Ramadan. Only after Ramadan they say they will be ready to launch talks," he said.
"I demanded from the Europeans that the talks with the Iranians would not last more than three months. They listen to what I tell them," he added.
"I don't think this visit can be described as a chilly visit and as diplomatic estrangement. After I met with the foreign ministers of Germany, France, Italy, the Czech Republic, and with (EU foreign policy chief) Javier Solana, (Italian Prime Minister) Silvio Berlusconi, Azerbaijan's President Ilham Aliyev – who was in Prague at the time – parliament representatives, other ministers and parliament members, my feeling is that Europe is willing to listen to me," he concluded.