Lieberman off to Baltics

FM discusses Iran and Turkey with Latvian president.

July 5, 2010 03:50
2 minute read.
 Foreign Minister and Israel Beiteinu party chairm

avigdor lieberman 311. (photo credit: Ariel Jerozolimski)


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While Defense Minister Ehud Barak held high level diplomatic talks in Washington two weeks ago, and Industry, Labor and Trade Minister Binyamin Ben-Eliezer was sent to meet Turkey’s foreign minister last week, Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman left on Sunday for a fiveday trip to Latvia, Finland and Lithuania.

The trip came just two days after Lieberman met with Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu for 90 minutes to resolve a mini-crisis that erupted when it was reported that Netanyahu bypassed Lieberman and the Foreign Ministry, and sent Ben-Eliezer to talk to Turkish Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu in Brussels to try and halt the deterioration in ties following the May 31 Gaza flotilla episode.

Lieberman issued a statement at the end of his meeting with Netanyahu saying the two men agreed that the way the meeting with Davutoglu was handled “was a mistake,” and that Netanyahu and Lieberman would continue to work in full cooperation.

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Lieberman issued a statement on Sunday following his meeting in Riga with Latvian President Valdis Zatlers, saying that regional issues – including Iran and Turkey – were discussed with the Latvian leader.

On Friday, in an interview on Channel 1, Netanyahu praised Lieberman for taking the types of trips he set out for on Sunday morning.

“Lieberman is doing a lot of things that the public doesn’t appreciate, but which I do,” Netanyahu said, when asked if Lieberman was suitable for the Foreign Ministry. “I think he is doing important work. He is working in Central and Eastern Europe, in Africa, in places where we have not worked for many years. I value him.”

Lieberman’s frequent trips to Central and Eastern Europe, according to diplomatic officials, are intended to shore up Israel’s position in the EU, where smaller countries like Latvia and Lithuania have the same vote inside the various EU forms as Germany, Britain and France. Two weeks ago, working on the same principle, Lieberman traveled to Malta, which is also a member of the EU.

In a statement put out by Lieberman following his meeting with the Latvian president, the foreign minister praised the “fair and balanced” position that Latvia has taken toward Israel inside the EU.

Lieberman said that Israel was still struggling for its independence and survival, something that Eastern European countries that only recently emerged from the shadow of the Soviet Union could understand better than other European countries.

Lieberman also took part in a government Holocaust Day commemoration in Latvia and said anti-Semitism historically takes on different guises, with being anti-Israel the most recent one. This is something that must not be accepted, he said, adding that the lesson for Jews is that they must always be ready to defend themselves.

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