A few days ago Italian PM Enrico Letta met Israeli PM Benjamin Netanyahu for a meeting that resulted in signing 12 bilateral agreements from public safety, civil protection, energy, health, education, research to technology aimed at “enabling growth and new employments”, as PM Letta said.
A long lasting and profitable relationship ties Italy and Israel. In 2010 Italy became the Israel’s fourth largest trading partner (following the USA, China and Germany). A key exporting Israeli industry to Italy is chemicals and oil distillates, which accounts for 48% of total exports amounting to $167 million. One of the most interesting part of the agreements relates to energy. In 2010 Israel has discovered a huge off-shore gas deposit called “Leviathan” that will enable Israel to become a new energy player in the Mediterranean area starting from 2018. Currently, Israel is looking for buyers
Are the Israeli-Palestinian peace talks set to atrophy, or could we be near a breakthrough? We're now almost half way through the nine-month window that the US administration dedicated to relaunching the talks, but it is unclear exactly where we are with the process. US secretary of state John Kerry is trying to give the talks momentum, but attention has been elsewhere, especially with the apparent breakthrough in talks with Iran.
Recently ECFR's MENA programme held an invitation-only event to discuss the situation, and we've just put out a couple of audio podcasts using some of the material from the session.
In the first podcast you can hear the head of the MENA programme, Daniel Levy, give an overview of the situation:
In the second podcast you can hear Lara Friedman make the case that the US is taking the peace process seriously, Alex Kouttab talk about the divisions that
After a secret meeting between Yanukovych and Putin in Sochi on Friday 6 December, Ukrainian Prime Minister Azarov dramatically announced a ‘major agreement’ with the Russians. Rumours are that this includes a promise to join the Russia-led Customs Union. Ukraine would be promised $5 billion up-front, as the economy shows every sign of self-inflicted collapse. Central Bank reserves dived to a mere $18.8 billion in November, due to presumed capital flight after the failure to sign the key agreements with the EU. As Polish Foreign Minister Radek Sikorski predicted at the Vilnius Summit, “I’m willing to bet that an outflow of capital from Ukraine will be greater than any financial support [from Russia].”
Whether Ukraine ultimately joins the Customs Union or not, it seems to be
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Much of the debate around Europe’s global strategy ahead of the December European Union Summit, might appear to those of us in the UK to be missing the point. Have those self- absorbed diplomats in Brussels failed to notice that the UK has always been wary about more common foreign policy, and that the discussion here is about whether we want to continue as members of the European Union club at all? And, surely, if the UK is not part of the project, European power looks very different: one less seat at the UN Security Council; the loss of one of the EU’s few powers who still retain military capacity capable of decisive interventions; and the loss of the UK’s huge diplomatic network, and historical, trade and linguistic ties across the world. Not to mention the fallout which the EU would be dealing with on the global stage if the UK decides to go it alone in 2017 – international
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Relations between the EU and Turkey are improving despite the lingering disappointment over the country's tangled accession talks. Here is a piece of good news: After talks with Commissioners Stefan Fuele (Enlargement) and Cecilia Malstöm (Home Affairs), Ahmet Davutoglu, the Turkish foreign minister, announced his country will be signing a readmission agreement with the EU on 16 December. It's hard to overstate the significance of such a move. Under its terms, Turkey agrees to receive back third-country nationals entering EU via its territory in exchange of a roadmap leading to visa free travel for Turkish citizens. If everything goes according to plan Turkey is to follow the example of the Western Balkans and remove a key hurdle on its European journey. Turks have a good reason to celebrate but I'm sure that officials in neighbouring Greece and Bulgaria will also be happy. Both
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