Minister Frattini will be taking part in the first Inter-Governmental Summit between Italy and Israel on 1 and 2 February 2010, an event which sets the seal on the excellent state of bilateral relations. The Italian delegation will be led by Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi. Also taking part will be the Ministers of Defence, La Russa; the Interior, Maroni; Health, Fazio; Transport, Matteoli; and the Environment, Prestigiacomo.
Italy and Israel are in full agreement on key foreign policy issues of common interest and enjoy excellent cultural and technical-scientific relations. Economic relations between the two countries are increasingly positive and show significant growth potential. The Summit could be a starting point for an expansion of mutual relations, not just from a political perspective but also – and especially – to increase trade and collaboration in the economic, industrial and technological fields. Indeed, agreements are to be signed in many sectors and important joint initiatives will be announced for the near future.
Alongside the Inter-Governmental meeting, a Round Table will be held with the main Italian Research and Development Agencies (led by the National Research Council (CNR) and ENEA). This will pave the way for the Italian-Israeli Scientific and Technological Biennium and will see the opening of three joint projects made possible by additional funding obtained by Minister Frattini for the Scientific Agreement between the two countries. These projects involve: alternative and renewable energy (ENEA and the University of Beersheba); neuroscience (CNR and the University of Tel Aviv); and ultra-cold atoms (LENS, in Florence, and the Weizmann Institute).
A key feature of Italian-Israeli relations is the custom of intensive meetings at the highest political and institutional levels. Following President Napolitano’s State Visit in November 2007, 2009 alone saw visits to Italy by Foreign Minister Lieberman on 4 May and by Prime Minister Netanyahu on 23 June; and visits to Israel by Defence Minister La Russa on 17 November and by Minister Frattini on 9 December. The intense programme of visits demonstrates the strong friendship between the two countries and the role played by Italy in Middle-East political developments.
And it is the prospects for peace in the Middle East and the Iranian nuclear dossier that will act as a backdrop to the present Summit. On his visit to Jerusalem and Ramallah in December 2009, Minister Frattini invited Israelis and Palestinians to return to the negotiating table without pre-conditions. He did so in the conviction that “both want peace: the leaders, but above all the two peoples, because they are simply fed up with the current situation”.
On the Iranian question, Italy will be “utterly loyal” to its partners if new sanctions are decided, explained Minister Frattini at a meeting in London yesterday (28 January) with his American, French, German and British colleagues. He hoped, however, that the new measures could be agreed by all actors concerned so that they do not turn out to be a blunt weapon. In a strategy of widening the consensus, Italy can play its part by performing a bilateral diplomacy role with countries currently sitting on the UN Security Council, such as Lebanon and Turkey, with which our country has a special partnership.