President believes it's essential to win recently independent states.
By GREER FAY CASHMAN
In an effort to strengthen Israel’s ties with the European Union and increase understanding of Israel’s position in the conflict with the Palestinians, President Shimon Peres is off to Slovenia and Croatia.The visits to the two countries will take place from Thursday through Sunday.RELATED:Did Peres's mission miss its mark?Peres: Syria cannot arm Hizbullah and seek peace with Israel'Hizbullah a division of Syrian army'Peres believes that it is essential to win the support of states whose independence is relatively recent.Both Slovenia and Croatia were part of the former Yugoslavia, and each gained independence in 1991.Both countries endured centuries of foreign rule.Slovenia joined the EU six years ago and Croatia was granted candidate status in 2004.AdvertisementCroatia’s accession has been blocked by issues raised by Ireland and Slovenia, but it has the support of other member states and will likely become a member of the EU in the not-toodistant future.Peres’s state visits to both countries are part of a broader effort to enhance relations with all the countries of Eastern and Central Europe.The next phase of this project will come in August, when Peres plans to visit Romania.In his meetings with the highest state and political echelons of Slovenia and Croatia, Peres will focus on security and political issues, primarily the formation of a strong European coalition to thwart the nuclearization of Iran.Such a coalition would also serve to accelerate the resumption of peace talks between Israel and the Palestinian Authority and to place restraints on Hamas, thereby curbing terrorism.Peres will also use hold extensive contacts with the media in Slovenia and Croatia to clarify Israel’s policies and to explain the irrationality of those countries, institutions and organizations that seek to delegitimize the Jewish state.Before leaving for Slovenia, Peres met on Wednesday with Greek Prime Minister George Papandreou and with Ukrainian Foreign Minister Kostyantyn Gryshchenko.
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