Peres: 'Democracy is not only about elections'

In meeting with Merkel, Peres says democracy in Egypt would be worthless if a "religious extremist dictatorship" were to rise.

peres merkel flowers (photo credit: Mark Neiman/GPO)
peres merkel flowers
(photo credit: Mark Neiman/GPO)
President Shimon Peres met with German Chancellor Angela Merkel at Beit Hanassi on Tuesday, where they discussed Egypt, peace talks, and the Iranian nuclear program.
During the meeting, Peres said that the world saw the results of democratic elections in Gaza, where Hamas was elected.
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"Democracy can not start and end in elections only," Peres said. "True democracy begins on the day after the elections, in granting human rights and concern for citizens' welfare.
"If a religious extremist dictatorship rises the day after democratic elections, what are democratic elections worth?" Peres asked.
He added that Iran is working to "bring a religious extremist hegemony to the Middle East. The Iranian problem and international terror," Peres explained, "is not an Israeli monopoly, but an international problem."
Merkel told Peres that, now more than ever, it is important to accelerate negotiations between Israel and the Palestinians.
"Peace between Israel and the Palestinians need to ensure Israel's security, define borders of a Palestinian state, and solve core problems," Merkel said.
She also agreed with Peres' statement that a nuclear Iran is a threat to the entire world, and noted that she had arrived in Israel at a "historic moment." She stressed that Israel's security is a global matter and not a bilateral one, and that Germany would do whatever it can to guard Israel's security and stability.