On his second state visit to Israel in less than four years, Romanian President Traian Basescu on Monday told President Shimon Peres that the main message he has for Israel and the Palestinian Authority is to seize the opportunity to provide peace for both nations.
Winning a war is not a guarantee for peace, he said. “The most important thing for any political leader is to bring peace to his country and the most important thing for a country is peace.”
During a welcome reception hosted by Peres at his official residence, and later during a working meeting between the two presidents, both men made constant references to the importance of peace, the futility of war and the dangers and instability wrought by terrorism.
In welcoming Basescu, Peres characterized him as a friend of Israel’s, both as an individual and as a leader of an important European country, which is an important member of NATO, and also an important player in the Middle East peace process.
Peres, who frequently points to terrorism as the greatest impediment to peace in the Middle East, did so again, stating that whoever thought that they would achieve something with terror, was in the final analysis mistaken.
Whereas war is a unifying factor and an extension of policy, said Peres, terror is divisive - without borders, without horizons, without policy, and without mercy.
It was crucial, he said, that the current peace negotiations should succeed. Failure, he emphasized, would be tragic for the whole of the Middle East “which is neither in a state of peace nor a state of war.”
He was optimistic that the current round of negotiations will be easier than before, not only because of the determination of US Secretary of State John Kerry who is fully backed by US President Barack Obama, but also because after seven wars, all sides think that they could have done without them.
“If you win a war, it’s never permanent”, said Peres. “Wars have never solved problems. If you win peace, there’s a better chance for permanence.”
Israel has decided to make peace its main task and major goal, Peres told Basescu. “I wish it could be done quicker and better, but we need more time,” he said.
Peres was convinced that efforts for peace would be easier now than in the past because the unrest in so many Middle East countries has nothing to do with Israel, in addition to which Saudi Arabia wants to bring peace and stability to the region. “It’s no longer an organized camp against us”, he said.
Aware that Syrian President Bashar al-Assad has announced that he is running for re-election, Peres who has previously voiced disgust and outrage with Assad over the heartless murder of tens of thousands of innocents and his turning even more Syrians into refugees, said that there is no Syria left for Assad to rule. He has caused Syria to disintegrate. “None of us can stand him,” said Peres speaking not only as an Israeli but as a world leader.
After praising the Kerry initiative, Peres said that he was glad that Europe was also trying to play a positive role. Alluding to the pressures applied by Europe against Israel, Peres said: “The purpose is not the pressure. The purpose is peace.”
In a side reference to Iran, Peres said that he did not know what would happen with the P5+1 negotiations or whether they indeed represented a serious attempt to put aside nuclear weapons rather than being just talk.
Romania which was a facilitator for Israel’s peace treaty with Egypt – the first such agreement with an Arab state, is still very much involved with the region. Basescu explained that it was in Romania’s strategic interests to support Romanian dual nationals living in the region. Just as there are tens of thousands of Romanian expatriates living in Israel who still have strong ties to the mother country, there are also large pockets of Romanians in Syria, Egypt, Libya and the Palestinian Authority.
But the basic element, Basescu was quick to underscore, is the security of Israel, “because without security peace will not be a reality. All parties must understand that.”
At the same time, he said, the Palestinians must have a recognized state. As a seasoned political leader, Basescu said that he believes that even at the expense of losing votes, a leader must do his or her best to provide peace for his nation. “I see the results of compromise in Europe,” he said, citing France and Germany putting aside their hostilities for a peace that has lasted for nearly seventy years, and thereby creating a paradigm for the rest of Europe. “All of us put part of our sovereignty in one basket to develop the European Union,” he said and hinted that the Middle East could learn from this example.