Wednesday, October 06, 2004

Berlusconi: Italy will support Israeli EU membership

'Italy will support Israeli membership in the EU,' Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi told Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Industry Trade and Labor Ehud Olmert
during a meeting in Rome last Wednesday evening.

Berlusconi told Olmert, 'As far as Italy is concerned, Israel is completely European in terms of its standard of living, heritage and cultural values. Geography is not a determinant.'

Berlusconi added that he supported Israel's disengagement plan. He noted that he had refused to meet Palestinian Authority chairman Yasser Arafat during a visit to Israel, and announced that Italy would include Hizbullah in its list of terrorist organizations.

Berlusconi is scheduled to visit Israel in March 2005.

Olmert and Italian Minister of Communications Maurizio Gasparri signed an bilateral cooperation agreement on information and network security. The agreement will help Israeli companies penetrate both Italian government and private markets.