The significant improvement in the Israel-Greek bilateral relationship in the last two years should encourage coordination between the two countries in their activities with international organizations and the Balkan bloc countries.
(Communicated by the Foreign Minister’s Bureau)
Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs Avigdor Liberman met (Thursday, 13 January 2010) with Greek Prime Minister George Papandreou. During the meeting, the two discussed regional issues, and FM Liberman said that the significant improvement in the Israel-Greek bilateral relationship in the last two years should encourage coordination between the two countries in their activities with international organizations and the Balkan bloc countries.
FM Liberman remarked that the transition that has taken place in the Balkan countries during the last 25 years, from the Tito-Ceauşescu-Hoxha-Zhukov era to the present time, where the countries compete only economically and regarding the question who will join the European Union, breeds hope for our region as well. FM Liberman added that countries in the Middle East should be given incentives to progress from military conflict to economic rivalry and to joining international organizations. FM Liberman also advised PM Papandreou that he expects support from Greece regarding the upgrading of Israel’s status with the European Union.
Yesterday (12 January) FM Liberman met with Greek Foreign Minister Dimitrios Droutsas. The two discussed bilateral issues and the continuation of the upgrade in the relationship between the two countries in the spheres of reciprocal trade and finance and regional topics such as illegal immigration, the environment and green energy.
At his meetings with PM Papandreou, FM Droutsas and earlier today with Minister for National Defense Evangelos Venizelos, FM Liberman thanked his hosts for being one of the first countries to send planes to help extinguish the recent Carmel Mountain fire and for the responsible attitude shown by Greece regarding the Gaza flotillas.
FM Liberman also discussed with his hosts the possibility of increasing cooperation on three different levels: Between the governments, between the citizens and between the business communities. They also discussed a range of economic projects in the spheres of energy, tourism, agriculture and water, and, in light of its lengthy experience, the possibility of Israel building water desalination plants in Greece.
FM Liberman will also meet with Greek President Karolos Papoulias, State Minister Haris Pamboukis, Speaker of the Greek Parliament Philippos Petsalnikos, chairman of the parliamentary Foreign Affairs Committee Dinos Vrettos, and with His Beatitude, Hieronymus II, Archbishop of Athens and All Greece.
FM Liberman’s visit to Athens is the continuation of the expansion of relationships with neighboring and Balkan states. In the forthcoming weeks, the Israeli Minister of Industry, Trade and Labor, the Minister of Tourism and Minister of Agriculture are expected to visit Greece and the Greek Minister of State Defense, the Minister of Agriculture, The Minister of State, the Minister of the Environment and the Minister of Labor and Welfare are due to visit Israel.
At his meeting with the Greek Jewish community yesterday, community leaders said that never in the past has the bilateral relationship been so positive, and the change in public opinion is noticeable.
At the end of his meeting with PM Papandreou, the media questioned FM Liberman with regard to developments in Lebanon. FM Liberman stated that this was a further example of the methods of extortion and threats employed by Hizbullah towards the international community in an attempt to prevent the publication of the conclusions of the committee of inquiry into the assassination of former Lebanese prime minister Rafik Hariri. This is not only an internal Lebanese affair, but also an important test for the entire international community.