Polish PM Donald Tusk arrived in Israel on February 23 as the head of a delegation of ministers for a series of inter-governmental consultations.


 

The Prime Minister of Poland, PM Donald Tusk, arrived in Israel on February 23 as the head of a delegation of ministers for a series of inter-governmental consultations with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and members of his government.

PM Tusk is accompanied by Foreign Minister Radoslaw Sikorski, Defense Minister Bogdan Klich, Education Minister Katarzyna Hall, Minister of Culture and National Heritage, Piotr Żuchowski, Health Minister Ewa Kopacz, Secretary of State, plenipotentiary for International Dialogue, Wladyslaw Bartoszewski, Undersecretary of State, Ministry of the Environment, Bernard Blaszczyk, and Secretary of State, secretary of the Committee for Special and Intelligence Services, Jacek Cichocki.

They will be joined from the Israeli side by, in addition to PM Benjamin Netanyahu, Foreign Minister Avigdor Liberman, Defense Minister Ehud Barak, Education Minister Gideon Sa'ar, Minister of Culture and Sport Limor Livnat, Minister of Public Diplomacy and Diaspora Affairs Yuli Edelstein, and Deputy Health Minister Yakov Litzman.

The consultations between Poland and Israel take place in the context of the close relations between the two governments. They are intended to further strengthen the special connections between the two sides, which are based on the nearly 1,000 year old friendship between the Polish and the Jewish peoples.


Polish-Israel Relations

International Relations: Poland is an important and active friend of Israel in the European Union (EU). It supported and continues to support the upgrading of relations between Israel and the EU.

Poland has stood by Israel in numerous international forums. In the UN General Assembly votes on the Goldstone Commission Report, Poland was among those EU countries which showed support for Israel (opposing the resolution in the first vote and abstaining in the second, which no EU countries opposed.) Along with only five other European countries, Poland refused to participate in the 'Durban II' conference (2009 Durban Review Conference), and absented itself from Iranian President Ahmadinejad's address to the General Assembly. In November 2010, Poland was among the relatively small group of countries which opposed the ratification of the resolutions passed at 'Durban II'.

Culture: Extensive cultural relations exist between Israel and Poland. The "Polish year in Israel" took place in 2008-2009, which included approximately 150 cultural events in Poland and more than 100 in Israel.

Education: More than 27,000 Israeli youth visit Poland annually. Over the last several years, the two countries have undertaken initiatives to include meetings with Polish youth and familiarization with contemporary Poland as part of these visits. A youth exchange agreement has recently been signed.


The two governments will hold consultations regarding the following issues:

Foreign and defense relations:

• Expanding bilateral dialogue in the fields of strategic policy, commercial relations, and research and development.
• The urgent need to advance towards a two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, to be achieved through negotiations between the sides.
• The terrorist and existential threats facing Israel.
• Strengthening ties between Israel and the EU.

Economics and technology:

• The two governments will hold discussions aimed at establishing low-cost flights between Israel and Poland.
• The two governments will hold discussions towards the goal of signing an Agreement on cooperation in the field of technological research and development.
• Additionally, the governments will explore the possibility of signing a Joint Declaration between the Polish Ministry for Environmental Protection and the Israeli Ministry of Industry, Trade and Labor on cooperation in the fields of water provision, energy management and other technologies.

Culture and national heritage:

• The two governments will discuss ways to ensure that future generations will honor and preserve the memory of the Polish Jews who were murdered in the Holocaust. They will address initiatives to be taken between 2011-2013 to commemorate the 70th anniversary of the start of the Holocaust in Poland, and collaboration on specific projects.
• The two governments will discuss the expansion of cooperation between Israeli institutions such as Yad Vashem and Polish institutions in the field of Holocaust education, including ways to counter false stereotypes.
• They will discuss the great importance of preserving authentic buildings and other displays which still stand in the concentration camps set up by Nazi Germany in Poland.
• The two governments will explore ways to further strengthen cultural cooperation and collaboration between Israel and Poland.

Health:

• The two governments will discuss a plan to increase cooperation in the field of health, and the expansion of economic ties between companies in the field.

Education and youth exchange programs:

• The two governments will explore ways to strengthen and expand youth exchange programs, out of recognition that such programs are vital for reinforcing the relationship between Israel and Poland. To date, 15,000 young people have taken part in meetings between Israeli and Polish youth.
• They will discuss increasing the participation of Israel in the field of education within the EU, particularly regarding student exchange programs.
• Increased cooperation on the municipal level will be discussed. This will include ways to encourage Israeli and Polish mayors to hold meetings during 2012 for the purpose of increasing economic, technological, cultural and youth cooperation, to the benefit of their cities' residents.