Almost immediately after arriving in Austria on Sunday, President Shimon Peres met with Lamerto Zannier, secretary general of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe, who told him that Israel is perceived as an important factor in advancing Middle East security and economy.
At the president’s working meeting with Zannier, the two discussed the significant role that Europe can play in the process of stabilizing the Middle East.
Peres updated Zannier on the strenuous efforts that are being made to advance the peace process and said that the Israeli and Palestinian negotiators are working around the clock and are making extraordinary endeavors aimed at achieving a breakthrough. However, he cautioned, the process is not yet over and there is difficulty in bridging the gaps.
Peres was hopeful that there would be some kind of positive development over the next day or two. He told Zannier that the OSCE has a central role to play in ensuring and maintaining stability throughout the whole of the Middle East, to take people out of the cycle of poverty, and to contribute to the economic growth of all the peoples in the region.
Zannier said that the OSCE is very much in favor of the peace negotiations and the efforts that are being made to keep up the momentum. The OSCE will be happy with any sign of progress in the peace negotiations, he declared, and pledged that the OSCE would cooperate with the two sides and put forward ideas and possible solutions to problems related to active cooperation.
In this respect, he added, the OSCE sees Israel as an important partner. The 56-member states of the OSCE, he said, include European countries, the Caucuses, Central Asia, and North America.
In the evening Peres and his host, Austrian President Heinz Fischer, attended a memorial ceremony at the Judenplatz for Austrian Jews murdered in the Holocaust, after which Peres attended a reception hosted by the Jewish community.