At the Research Council on 29 September 1994, Mr. Antonio Ruberti, Commissioner responsible for science, research and development, expressed his satisfaction with the negotiation mandate granted by the Council to conclude an RTD cooperation agreement between the European Union and Israel. The process to initiate negotiations regarding Israel's participation in Community research activities was launched in January 1994. Mr. Ruberti said he was pleased with the outcome of the process and hoped that the strengthening of ties between the two parties would contribute to the development of the peace process in the Middle East. Scientific and technical cooperation with Israel began in 1984 in the framework of the Community STD programme to increase scientific cooperation between the Community and developing countries, and the ALA/MED programme for international scientific cooperation with Latin America, Asia and the Mediterranean. The ALA/MED programme is concerned with the promotion of joint research projects, the organization of seminars and the allocation of post-doctoral funds. Joint projects with Israel have been carried out in a variety of sectors, such as agriculture, medicine, biotechnology, and advanced materials. Projects with specific relevance to the geographical situation of Israel have also been implemented, for example concerning the protection and management of aquiferous resources and the prevention of desertification. In 1992, the European Parliament instigated the AVICENNE initiative, in which Israel has played an important role. The initiative aims at promoting cooperation with the countries of the Mediterranean Basin in the fields of the environment, health, and renewable energies.