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Israelis are unaware of the deep relationship their country has with the European Union, Javier Solana, the union's foreign policy chief said Wednesday, adding that his organization's ties with Israel are stronger than those with candidate country Croatia.

"There is no country outside the European continent that has this type of relationship that Israel has with the European Union," Solana said at the Presidential Conference in Jerusalem.

"Israel, allow me to say, is member of the European Union without being a member of the institution. It's a member of all the programs, it participates in all the programs. And I'd like to emphasize and underline, with a very big, thick line [that Israel participates] in [helping us deal] with all the problems of research and technology, which are very important."

"I am sorry to say, but I don't see the president of Croatia here," Solana continued, referring to Stjepan Mesic, who is also attending the three-day conference.

"His country is a candidate for the European Union, but your relation today with the European Union is stronger than [our] relation to Croatia. Don?t tell him that," he joked.

In his speech, Solana reiterated the European Union's commitment to helping prevent Iran from attaining nuclear weapons. He also briefly addressed the Israeli-Palestinian peace process, saying its slow pace is the results of poor methodology.

"We have to concentrate on methodology. I think we need not only to get the two parties to get along, but we need rapid mediation, to agree on fixed dates and to agree on fixed dates when to implement them."