Today we’re taking an important step in signing these agreements which intensify and put focus on a relationship that perhaps for many years was neglected.
Opening remarks by PM Netanyahu and PM Boc of Romania
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu:
Well, Prime Minister Boc, my good friend, welcome to you and to all your delegation from Romania. The people of Israel know that we have a great friend in the Romanian government and in the people of Romania. That’s a natural friendship because, I repeat what I said: everybody in Israel is either Romania or has friends who speak Romanian, which is also true of our own government. It’s true of me personally. So on behalf of all our people and on behalf of my government, I want to again say how pleased we are that you’re here in Jerusalem for the first time – certainly not the last and we extend to you either the invitation to stay a little more and see more of our country – it’s a great country, but it’s not big; it doesn’t take very long – and certainly for future visits.
When the two of us met in Bucharest last July, we decided that we want to enhance the great friendship that is blossoming between our two countries by having this meeting – a government to government meeting in Jerusalem – and I think today we’re taking an important step in signing these agreements which intensify and put focus on a relationship that perhaps for many years was neglected. It was neglected first because of geo-political circumstances and it’s no longer the case. We always had a friendship, even during the period of the Cold War, with Romania, but now we want to translate it into practical terms: in security and education, in trade and agriculture and health and in many, many other areas. I think that from our perspective, the more the better.
I also had the opportunity to speak with the Prime Minister about the events that are transforming our region. Israel, like any democracy would like nothing better than to have democratic neighbors. Nothing would be better for prosperity, for security and for peace. But that outcome is far from certain. We could well find ourselves in a regional environment that is more hostile than ever and this could last for quite some time. And this is why we must be very careful, very responsible and very vigilant, especially mindful not to do anything that could jeopardize Israel’s security.
The Prime Minister and I also discussed Iran’s pursuit of nuclear weapons. A nuclear-armed Iran would threaten Israel, would threaten the region and would threaten the peace with the world. I expressed my hope that Romania and other European governments will apply powerful sanctions against the regime before it’s too late. Now I have to say that I’m pleased that more powerful sanctions have been taken, but I believe that more powerful sanctions are due, especially those that would focus on the oil sector and most especially on the banking sector. If anything has a chance of taking a real bite into Iran’s economy and having a real impact on this regime, it is these more powerful sanctions. I hope they’ll be taken.
And finally, we discussed the peace process with the Palestinians. I hope the Palestinians choose to move away from the prospective union with the Hamas – to move away from unilateral steps. To the extent they’ll do that and go back to the only route that can produce peace, which is direct negotiations without preconditions – to that extent, I think peace will be advanced and this will serve the interests of Israelis and Palestinians alike.
At the same time that we seek security and stability in this area, we welcome the fact that we have the ability to expand these newfound friendships – by the way, in the region, as we discussed with some of the countries, the Arab countries, but also outside the region by tightening the bonds that are natural for us. We have common values, we have a human bridge in the form of the Romanian community in Israel and we have many, many, many common interests. And the more we sit down together, Prime Minister, the more I discover how deep those interests are and I learn much about the history of Romania and your aspirations for a better future, which is our aspiration, so welcome to Jerusalem.
Prime Minister Emil Boc:
Thank you very much. I will speak in Romanian for a while and in English also. I’ll take the opportunity first, dear Prime Minister, to thank you for your great hospitality and for the fact you prepared these bilateral meetings excellently, and it’s a good step in order to increase and to move forward with our excellent collaborations. It’s a new step in our relations – more than sixty years of collaborations and we are moving forward now with a very concrete and pragmatic project. Also, I’d like to congratulate you for the fact that you succeeded to move with your country very well in this time of crisis.
As far as I know, from your experience I learned one thing: it’s better to prevent that to repair. So when you were Minister of Finance, you succeeded in taking measures which helped Israel now to move easier in the context of the economic crisis than other countries. I’m taking as the Prime Minister of Romania, where together with the President of Romania, we were forced to take almost the most severe austerity measures in this period of time due to the fact that we did have in the past a Minister of Finance to avoid the policy which was very inefficient for the country. So congratulations for your effort and your model of development.
Today, we move forward with pragmatic measures. We signed, as you saw, important documents concerning our future collaborations, and I’ll emphasis the collaboration in the field of labor. We are preparing to select labor force, which is going to work in Israel, especially in the field of construction, but also in other domains, and also in the fields of medicine, defense, agriculture, culture and education.
We want to emphasize how important it is for our country to put an accent on our historical ties. The historian community, the origins of Israelis from Romania, they are a good bridge for collaboration. We want to move to the next generation here who still speak Romanian and they have Romanian origins – to give them the possibility to come back to our country, to see the place where their parents, their grandparents lived, and I know these are good ties and we should emphasize and work on that. The Romanian government is very willing to move forward with such an experience.
At the same time, I would emphasize that the future belongs to us, and we should emphasize new technologies: hi-tech, communications – where you have great expertise and we have great potential to move together, and our ministers took a good step to move forward with such a collaboration.
Last but not least, I look forward to increasing our projects on infrastructure and to attract your investors from your country to Romania in the field of infrastructure: gas, oil, but also agriculture, because Romania has great potential in agriculture. We’re able to feed 80 million people, and we are still in the situation where we have to import products for the Romanian market, so here is a good place to collaborate with each other and to learn from our experience.
We share with you the concerns concerning the security in the region and in the world as a whole, and we have a common view concerning peace and security in the region.
Thank you, Prime Minister, again.
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, at his joint press conference with Romanian Prime Minister Emil Boc, made the following remarks:
"The goal of Iran’s nuclear program had been the subject of controversy but it is no longer such. Iran is vigorously working to achieve a nuclear weapon. This is the threat against Israel, against the region and against the entire world. While it is very important that significant economic sanctions have been imposed, it is insufficient. Effective sanctions must continue to be imposed on its petrochemical industries and on the Iranian central bank as well, and soon."
Prime Minister Netanyahu also referred to events in Egypt:
"Israel and Egypt have an interest in preserving peace and stability in the Middle East. This ensures the sea lanes, economic stability, quiet and many other things – for Egypt, for Israel and for other states. There are many interests in preserving and advancing the peace, and there are many elements that would like to disrupt it. Both sides are acting responsibly and seriously against terrorism and against those who violate the peace. This is a continuing interest both for Israel and any government that arises in Egypt."