Angela Merkel 311.
(photo credit: Associated Press)
A day after the announcement that Russian President Dmitry Medvedev canceled his
visit because of Foreign Ministry work sanctions, diplomatic officials said
Tuesday the planned visit of German Chancellor Angela Merkel by mid-February was
also in jeopardy.
RELATED:Medvedev nixes visit over Foreign Ministry labor disputeForeign Ministry workers renew sanctions over salaries
Merkel was scheduled to arrive with between seven to 12
of her ministers for the annual joint German-Israeli cabinet session, but
diplomatic officials said this would be too difficult logistically to put
together without a working foreign ministry, and that if the work dispute was
not settled before then, this visit would also likely be called off.
Croatian and Slovenian prime ministers also canceled planned visits here this
month because of the work sanctions.
Meanwhile, Hanan Goder- Goldberger –
head of the ministry’s diplomatic worker’s committee – said the committee was
considering moving from sanctions to a full strike within the next few days. One
consideration that has kept the ministry employees from calling for a full
strike until now, he said, was that this would mean the ministry would have no
one on duty for Israelis abroad needing emergency
Negotiations with the Finance Ministry broke down last week
after the Foreign Ministry employees rejected an 8-percent pay raise, which they
characterized as an “embarrassment.” The workers have been engaged in a work
dispute since February, trying to equalize their pay with the pay given to
Defense Ministry and Mossad employees.
Goder-Goldberger said the ministry
opened registration last week for a new diplomat cadet course, but that anyone
who applied now had to be stupid, extremely idealistic or from very wealthy
families whose parents could support them.
President Shimon Peres,
meanwhile, phoned Medvedev Tuesday night and apologized that his visit was
canceled. Despite the cancelation of the Israeli leg of the visit, Mevedev told
Peres he still intended to go through with his regional trip, which will take
him to Jordan and then to Jericho to meet Palestinian Authority President
In lieu of the visit, Peres and Medvedev agreed to hold a
working meeting when the two attend the World Economic Forum in Davos at the end
of the month. Medvedev assured the president that the cancelation of the visit
would in no way impact on relations between the two countries, according to
Peres’s office.Greer Fay Cashman contributed to this report.