Berlin, Aachen, Frankfurt/Oder. Israelis and Palestinians hardly ever make a journey together. However, the Friedrich Naumann Foundation for Freedom managed to have young entrepreneurs from the occupied West Bank territories and from Israel join a study trip related to the subject “Cross-border Economic Cooperation”.
Besides of becoming aware of the fact that the former bordering regions became central locations as a result of the European peace process, the participants recognized the economic potential that can emerge through cross-border cooperation, in spite of existing divergent entrepreneurial cultures and administrative structures. Both in Aachen and in Frankfurt/Oder, they were able to see for themselves the political dimension that entails such cooperation; they also witnessed the contribution of daily meetings in favor of peace and international understanding. The dialogue partners also emphasized, however, the difficulty of convincing the companies to invest in cross-border projects. Since location conditions are not different from other investment locations in the particular countries, and the employees of the involved member countries are subject to different social legislations, it has to be properly considered which companies are desirable to attract. Due to the good transportation system at the three-country border (Dreiländereck), Aachen recently decided to establish logistics companies in its new industrial park. The successful cooperation in the educational field was enhanced in Frankfurt/Oder.
The highlight of the information trip was the invitation to the Bellevue Palace made by Mrs. Daniela Schadt. During the official visit paid by Federal President Gauck in May 2012, Mr. Gauck’s partner met some participants of the dialogue forum between Israelis and Palestinians organized by the Naumann Foundation, and spontaneously issued an invitation to arrange a new exchange of thoughts on the current political developments in the Near East.
One of the participants concluded: “I would never have believed it to be possible that Israelis and Palestinians could coexist during a whole week in such a harmonious and constructive way.” Therefore, the effort made by the Foundation was worthwhile, and the intended goal was fully achieved.