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Israel is admired. Interview with EU Ambassador Lars Faaborg-Andersen

Soon Israel leaves the European Union Ambassador Lars Faaborg-Andersen.

In the final interview he not only spoke about topical issues of internal policy of EU and relations with Israel, but also about the impression made on him by our country.

Interviewed By Paul Vyhdorchyk.

At the moment, the main issue on the agenda of the EU – Brexit. At what stage is it? Is it feasible in principle?

These questions are better to ask Theresa may. It all depends on which strategy you will adopt the British and what they want to achieve. In my opinion, you first need to determine what are the relations between the European Union and the UK after Brexit – indeed, both sides are very interested in cooperation. It seems to me that the UK, irrespective of the outcome of the referendum, regardless of whether this is British or not, is part of Europe.

But before moving on to a new stage of relations, it is necessary to pay the current bills. First, you need to create a mechanism that will allow the British to live on the continent, and Europeans – in Britain, ensure respect for their rights. Secondly, Britain was part of the decisions regarding Finance. Guess she will have to pay the EU a large sum of money…

They have so much money?

We are not talking about an astronomical sum of money, but billions. So first you have to deal with these issues, and only then rest. You need to define the conditions of withdrawal from the EU. At least in our opinion. Maybe the Brits see it differently.

That is the road map yet?

Negotiations have just begun. On their first stage and will be discussed procedural issues, including the conduct of negotiations. Then you will need to decide how Brexit – soft or hard. Important legal component. This is a complex process, but its first step is simple: the parties must realize that rights without duties do not exist. Take, for example, access to our domestic market. For this the British must ensure the freedom of movement of persons, services and capital.

As you know, one of the reasons the referendum was the so-called «invasion» in the UK the European workforce. And Theresa may said that these freedoms it would be difficult to provide. It will be difficult to accept the jurisdiction of the European court as the Supreme arbiter in matters of dispute. So the process will not be easy, but both sides are committed to a mutually acceptable agreement, and the preservation of cooperation.

About a week ago, the President of France Emmanuel macron said that the EU needs a change, and criticized the European bureaucracy. The Prime Minister of Malta has called the EU a «monstrous creation». Is there a Union in the future? Asking you as a «European bureaucrats».

At the EU summit in Bratislava, immediately after the British referendum, it was declared: in order not to lose relevance, the EU needs to solve the pressing problems of the people of Europe: to expand the labor market, to protect borders, to fight terror. The success of the EU will be measured primarily on these parameters. Secondary issues should be left for the state itself. So the climate in Brussels is changing. The EU has a future, because the problems of its member States in common. And they are easier to solve together, not separately.

Three Eastern European States declare that they will not let refugees into its territory, and prepared for possible sanctions. It threatens the unity of the EU, especially when you consider that from the East to these processes Putin looks willing to support the skeptics?

We constantly have to resist the misinformation and «fake news» emanating from Russia… You mentioned three members of the EU. On 27 July, the court will decide whether the issue of quotas for refugees unanimous decision or qualified majority. This is a crucial verdict, and we will act in accordance with it.

But Brussels expects that all member States will contribute to solving the problem. Look at Italy, which was flooded by refugees. She can’t cope with the crisis independently and requests assistance from other States of the European Union. We must show solidarity and collectivism. Of course, there are problems. For example, refugees coming, you want to reunite with family in Germany – and we sent them to Finland…

Of course, the threat from the East existed. We are not closing it, especially because in the EU there are countries directly bordering Russia. The necessary measures are taken including and block NATO to make it clear: any violation of the territorial integrity involves the fifth paragraph of the Charter of the Alliance.

Russia is trying to assert that the international community has already accepted the annexation of the Crimea. Is it really so?

This is not so. We have just extended sanctions against Russia – just because I don’t want a repeat of such behavior at home. We have demonstrated that we are willing to pay the price for it – and the economic damage from the sanctions is great. Many of the EU’s extensive trade relations with Russia, and they have suffered. But we are willing to pay this price.

You mentioned the terror as one of the main challenges facing the EU. The impression is that terrorists are acting in the same pattern, and the terrorists themselves – are usually not refugees, and representatives of second or third generation Europeans. Not whether Europe is losing the war on terror?

I will not understate the problem, but to exaggerate it is not worth it. Over the last couple of years in our territory was committed less than ten attacks. Of course, every terrorist attack is a tragedy, but it is not that we flooded a wave of terror. We successfully confront the terrorist threat. This was the result not only of deepening of cooperation of special services of the EU member States, but also the broader approach that is not limited to security measures.

We aim to the streets of the soldiers, paying special attention to Jewish institutions. But pays great attention to and working with Internet companies. Terrorists actively use the Internet to mobilize support, operations planning, incitement. It is very important to force Internet service providers to deprive them of this opportunity. And the European Union, with a population of 500 million people, has leverage over Internet companies.

We actively share information more effectively check those who enter our territory, helping countries such as Greece and Italy who may not be able to establish the identity of everyone who enters their territory. But, as you noted, not refugees – the main threat (although the Berlin bombing was carried out refugees), and people who were born in Europe and held in Europe the radicalization process. And here we need to cooperate with social services.

As for Europeans, fighting in the middle East. There are about five thousand people, and judging by what is happening in Syria and Iraq, very few of them will survive. But some still manage to come back, and we have created a pan-European search list will make it easier to identify them. However, we remain committed to a modern, open society, and do everything possible not to sacrifice the very values that seek to destroy the terrorists.

Israel and its citizens demonstrate a great solidarity with Europe. But when terrorist attacks happen in Israel, we do not see this from the European side. Why?

I can’t agree with it. For example, after every terrorist attack, our mission condemns terrorists and expresses solidarity with the people of Israel.

I’m not talking about the European Union, and the people of Europe.

Don’t know what the basis of your statement. The fact that we have different approaches to the fight against terror. It is clear that terror is unacceptable in any form, but this does not mean that the terror is the same and the approach to combat it must also be the same.

Do you think that there is a difference between attacks by Palestinian terrorists and the terrorists of the «Islamic state»?

Again, the terror is terror. But if you compare a schoolgirl taking a pair of scissors walking on Jaffa street in Jerusalem and attacking the old man with the militants, chop off the heads of dozens of captured Libyan soldiers… these are two different phenomenon. The first caused not only incitement, but also the conditions in which these adolescents, deprivation that they experience. Terror is unacceptable. But in the fight against ISIS social services will not help you.

The European Union is a major supporter of the principle of «two States for two peoples.» You continue to inject funds into the Palestinian economy, supporting the administration in what is essentially a non-political entity, failed. Whether to help such a regime?

First of all, most Israelis also support this principle. Of course, if you ask them whether they believe in its fast implementation, it is clear what the answer would be. But remember that a couple of years ago, the international monetary Fund came to the conclusion that Palestine is ready for statehood. And even if the situation has worsened due to internal Palestinian conflict, it can quickly catch up.

The creation of a Palestinian state is not only Palestinian, but also Israeli interests, because the alternative is to become a minority in their own homeland. For change to occur. They can be felt from yesterday to today, and in the long term – and why the settlement is so complex a process: concessions we have to go now, but only in the long term it will become apparent that there is no other solution.

Even if the Palestinian state would be unviable?

To avoid this, the international community, including the EU, is ready to assist. We understand that parties take the risks, and are willing to provide guarantees. We will not let a Palestinian state become a base for terrorist attacks. But I once told President Peres, «the peace process has something in common with making love: there is better to close the eyes.»

The European Union considers BDS a manifestation of freedom of speech. However, more and more Europeans recognize that it is a manifestation of anti-Semitism.

We oppose BDS. We oppose the isolation of Israel, against being subjected to sanctions. But the question is: are we willing to pursue the BDS activists? The answer to this question is «No.» Freedom of expression is a fundamental European principle, and if you do not call for violence, do not make anti-Semitic statements, then act within the boundaries of this freedom. This does not mean that we support BDS. But we are not willing to limit the freedom of speech of citizens.

That is, from the point of view of the EU, it is not anti-Semitism?

No. The European Union has developed a definition of anti-Semitism. Not all EU members agree with him, but it’s used. As I understand it, is not enough to be a supporter of the BDS to be recognized by an anti-Semite.

What is the position of the European Union concerning the recent resolutions of UNESCO, which contained accusations against Israel?

The EU has no unified position on this issue. We provide States the freedom vote.

You leave Israel after four years of work. But as far as I know this is not the first coming here in the seventies, you worked as a volunteer in the kibbutz. What impression have you got from the Israel – then and now? How did it change?

I am very glad that I had to be here representing the European Union. I got great pleasure from contacts with politicians, and meetings with ordinary Israelis and of Israel itself – from beaches, from the sun. What your country has achieved over 40 years since my first visit, was incredible. This is just admiration. From the agricultural poor of the country you turned into a modern prosperous state with extensive foreign policy ties. We can only congratulate Israel and Israelis.

But, in my opinion, gone a certain innocence inherent in adolescence. You are no longer David against Goliath. In the seventies Israel has caused great sympathy among young people, primarily in Europe and the United States. Your country was seen as a successful socialist experiment, many have come here to be part of this experiment, to live and work in the kibbutzim. Is it gone and socialism is not so attractive.

From the weakest boy in the courtyard of Israel became a powerful state. Proper use of this power, a difficult task in itself, meets not only your interests but also the interests of other States in the region. For this reason, it is important to reach a settlement with the Palestinians. You will not be free until freedom will not be gained by the Palestinians. Occupation is also significantly weakens your position in the international arena. Of course, this is due to concessions, but the price is right. The international community is ready to help you.

Looking back 10-20 years, what will you remember? I’m not asking you as the representative of the European Union, and as Lars.

I will remember how your country is stunningly beautiful that it is saturated with history. As I traveled on a motorcycle in the Negev, and the warm wind hitting me in the face. As I went out to the Mediterranean sea by boat. I remember meeting amazing people and their stories. The fact that, despite the experience, you have such a will to move on. I managed to make my small contribution to changing the situation for the better.

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Israel is admired. Interview with EU Ambassador Lars Faaborg-Andersen 11.07.2017

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