The latest round of the Strasbourg Forum, organized by ELNET-Germany and ELNET-France, was held in Strasbourg on September 12, 2023. The Forum brings together experts and policymakers from both countries to discuss two key strategic issues:
- The Iranian challenge and its implications for Europe, and the Middle East, in particular Israel
- Cooperation between Europe and Israel in the face of the new world order.
This edition of the Strasbourg Forum included a cocktail reception and began with welcoming remarks from MEP Ilana Cicurel on the state of the Europe-Israel relations.
On the topic of Iran, French and German experts discussed the Iranian challenge and the role for Europe. The war in Ukraine has driven Iran closer to Russia, creating a dangerous alliance, rendering talks with Iran unfeasible, while the regime’s brutal crackdowns on demonstrators in the fall of 2022 has led Europe to further distance itself from Iran. In this void, Iran is advancing its nuclear pursuits at an alarmingly speed.
- A new negotiation format on the Iran nuclear issue is needed, one that looks at the matter in terms of
- Negotiations involving the United States, China, and Russia all together would no longer have a chance of being successful.
- The Iranian nuclear issue is as much a global issue as it is regional one, and therefore must be addressed at the regional level.
- Treating the ballistic missile issue separately has likely become a realistic means of reducing the risk associated with the Iranian nuclear program in the region.
NEW WORLD ORDER
On the topic of the new world order, discussions focused on Europe and Israeli cooperation in the field of defense. The German defense budget is larger than both France’s and Israel’s. Nevertheless, Israel is technologically superior, given the existential threats that Israel has faced since its establishment and the need to maintain its qualitative military edge. Much can be learnt from Israel’s technological prowess, especially in the context of autonomous weapons. In the last few years Israel and NATO have been working more closely together, particularly in areas like counterterrorism and military technology. There is substantial cooperation between France and Israel especially in the Eastern Mediterranean involving Syria and Iraq
- Cybersecurity and aerial defense were identified as key areas for increased cooperation with Israel.
- The defense cooperation between Europe and Israel tends to be reactive and could benefit from improved coordination.