"Can anyone imagine Lieberman working under High Representative Ashton?" Moratinos asserted Tuesday at the Herzliya Conference. High Representative Catherine Ashton is the EU's foreign affairs chief. However, the Spanish foreign minister added that joining the EU depends on Israel and that if an official request for membership is submitted, it will be considered seriously.
Opposing opinions were voiced Monday by Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi, who declared at a reception held in his honor at the Prime Minister's Office in Jerusalem that "my biggest dream and passion is adding Israel to the European Union, as long I am an active player."
Moritanos, whose country currently holds the seat of the rotating presidency of the EU, noted that, unlike in the past, the EU is interested in playing a significant political role in the Middle East and in the world. Moritanos added that the trend of deepening relations between the EU and Israel should be continued and noted that the EU Presidency will continue to build trust with Israel to this end.
Regarding the Iranian issue, Moratinos emphasized that the EU, Israel, and the moderate Arab states have a joint interest in regional stability and in halting the Iranian nuclear program. According to him, Europe is always attentive to Israel's security concerns.
Moratinos said of the disagreements between Israel and the EU that sometimes close friends and family have arguments as well. He noted that he believes Israel should have a special status with the EU regardless of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
Moratinos noted that both Israel and Europe have joint responsibility to improve Israel's image within European public opinion.
Czech Deputy Prime Minister and Defense Minister Martin Bartak said that the Czech Republic sees itself as a partner with the Jewish people and Israel in the war on terror. He emphasized that Israel is the most important ally of Europe and the US in the Middle East.
Regarding the peace process, Bartak said that the Palestinians must unify around recognizing Israel's existence.
Bartak said of Iran that there is a sense that not enough has been done on the issue and that action must be taken before it is too late: "An existential threat to Israel is a red line for Europe."