(Communicated by the Prime Minister's Media Adviser)
On Wednesday, 27 January 2016, Israel and Greece held a government to government meeting in Jerusalem
, led by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras.
Prime Minister Netanyahu and six of his ministers hosted Greek Prime Minister Tsipras and six of his ministers for a series of discussions and signings of bilateral agreements, with the goal of continuing to strengthen bilateral relations in foreign affairs, economic cooperation, innovation, energy, the environment, tourism, transportation, maritime relations, the maintenance of public order, civil defense and the war on terrorism.
During the meeting, Prime Minister Netanyahu noted that "Our cooperation with Greece and Cyprus stands on its own. While we believe that it should have happened some time ago, we are pleased by the current progress. It does not depend on our efforts to normalize our relations with Turkey. We are trying to do this. I do not know if we will succeed but I think that we will continue our efforts to do so. We must ensure that Israel's interests are upheld. Turkey and Israel have had excellent relations in previous years. We did not want to see them deteriorate and we did not cause this deterioration in relations. We will welcome any change in policy."
On Thursday, 28 January 2016, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, Cyprus President Nicos Anastasiades and Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras will meet in Nicosia Cyprus. The purpose of the trilateral meeting
, which reflects the tighter relations between the three countries, is to establish a permanent framework for countries that share similar worldviews, values and interests in order to strengthen stability in the eastern Mediterranean basin and advance regional prosperity. The meeting takes place following the recent state visit to Israel by Cyprus President Anastasiades
and today's meeting between the Israeli and Greek governments.
The potential for tripartite cooperation is considerable and encompasses areas such as - inter alia - tourism, the environment, water, energy, science, innovation, migration and the war against terrorism. The three leaders will discuss possibilities for cooperation and will sign a water cooperation agreement. A professional steering committee will also convene to discuss concrete projects that will be advanced in the near future. PM Netanyahu in Nicosia with Cyprus President Anastasiades and Greek PM TsiprasCopyright: GPO/Haim ZachFollowing is Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's statement at the government-to-government consultation meeting with Greece:
"Prime Minister Tsipras, Alexis, it's a pleasure for me to welcome you and your delegation. The Middle East's only democracy is proud to welcome the prime minister of the world's first democracy. We are conducting the second G2G, the second government-to-government meeting.
We are two ancient peoples. You were standing outside the window, and I showed him the, showed Prime Minister Tsipras the Old City of Jerusalem, and I said, 'This is our Acropolis'. So, the Acropolis and the City of David are the two foundations of much of our modern civilization, and while both Greeks and Jews can justifiably take pride in our rich, ancient heritage, we share a common desire to embrace the future. We want to seize the scientific and technological promise of the 21st century.
And we also face shared challenges. We are two Eastern Mediterranean democracies that want to bring progress, security and peace to our peoples. But we live in a region that is increasingly volatile and unstable, and plagued by the forces of Islamist extremism. I believe that we are much stronger when we meet these challenges together.
Over the last few years, Greece and Israel have greatly upgraded the scope and the diversity of our cooperation, and in this G2G meeting we will take further steps to strengthen this partnership: in diplomacy, in defense, in cyber security, counter-terrorism, in economics, trade, energy and innovation. Energy also includes not merely discussing the possibilities of using our off-shore gas, but also connecting Israel, Cyprus and Greece with an electricity cable which will, for the first time, enable Israel to diversify its electricity grid and even export gas through electrical energy. We are going to discuss water, environment, agriculture, public safety and emergency responses, transportation, maritime affairs, tourism - many other areas.
I think our cooperation makes both our countries more secure and more prosperous, and it's something that has been long-overdue, but is happening and at a very rapid pace.
Mr. Prime Minister, your visit to Israel occurs on International Holocaust Remembrance Day. Civilized peoples everywhere unite to remember history's greatest crime, the attempt to totally annihilate the Jewish people in an industrial program of genocide.
I believe it's not enough to merely commemorate the mass murder of Jews in the last century. I think we have to be vigilant and strong in the face of the calls for new genocide, for the new upheavals of murderous creeds that seek to annihilate modern peoples, the remnants of ancient civilizations, the very way of life that developed through our common culture. And I believe that we have the capacity to learn from history and prevent its repetition.
We know that many Greeks risked their lives to save Jews during the dark years of the Holocaust. We have, Alexis, a special program in our Holocaust memorial here to commemorate those non-Jews who risked their lives, risked their families - the greatest form of courage - risked their lives, but also the lives of their families to save Jews in our darkest hour. There are 321 Greeks who have been recognized by our commemoration institution, Yad Vashem, as Righteous Among the Nations. Three hundred and twenty one. That's a substantial number.
I, during my visit to Greece, saw the heroism of Greeks, of mayors, of clerics, who stood up to the calls to bring in the Jews for annihilation, and I remember one particular case in which a mayor and a cleric came to the Nazi official who ordered them to deliver Jews, and they said, they came just the two of them, and said, 'Here are your Jews. We are the Jews'. We never forget that. It's a great, great testament of human bravery.
Your government stands resolutely against neo-Nazism,anti-Semitism and racism, and it's something we applaud. You have shown that Greece, the cradle of democracy,remains a bastion of tolerance and freedom, and that's no easy task in these days. I know how important that is for all of us as members of the civilized community. I also want to express my appreciation for Greece's principled positions towards Israel in international forums.
Greece is a true friend. I believe that we are developing a friendship that can turn into a genuine alliance for peace, for progress and for security. And I'm sure that this G2G meeting which we'll have following this brief press conference will further enhance that friendship and cooperation. So, once again, welcome to Jerusalem, welcome my friend."