President Peres and PM Azarov agreed to accelerate work on a number of cooperation agreements between the two countries, including the opening of negotiations toward a free trade zone between Israel and Ukraine

 President Peres meets with Ukrainian PM Azarov


President Peres with PM Azarov in Jerusalem (Photo: Moshe Milner/GPO)

(Communicated by the President’s Spokesperson)

President Shimon Peres held a working meeting today (Wednesday, 16 March 2011) with the Prime Minister of the Ukraine, Mr. Mykola Azarov.   At the start of the meeting both leaders made comments about the recent events in Japan.  President Peres told his Ukrainian guest, a country that experienced the Chernobyl disaster, that "the terrible disaster in Japan is a tragedy for the entire world, not only the Japanese people.  Japan’s experience embodies the combination of the fear of how cruel nature can be with the dignified manner in which the Japanese are coping in such an amazing way.  This is a disaster of biblical proportions,” the President said.

Prime Minister Azarov pointed out that the President of the Ukraine, Viktor Yanukovych, accepted President Peres’ invitation for a reciprocal state visit in Israel and it will take place in December 2011.  The two agreed that the appropriate government offices will prepare all of the relevant cooperation agreements in the fields of agriculture and healthcare before the visit.  They also agreed to accelerate the negotiations for the opening of free trade zone between the countries.

Prime Minister Azarov emphasized that since the agreement to cancel visa requirements was passed in February, tourism between Ukraine and Israel has increased 20%.

"We are interested in the experience and know-how of Israel as well as foreign Israeli investment in our country.  Ukraine is making a concerted effort in order to attract foreign investment and is working towards improving the economic climate and relevant infrastructure for this," said Prime Minister Azarov.   The Prime Minister, who is on his first visit to Israel, added on a personal note: "This is the second day of my visit and I have been deeply impressed with what I have seen.  Israel can continue to rely on its friendship with the Ukraine."

President Peres thanked his guest and said: "Israel is more than willing to share its knowledge.   I hope that the relations between Israel and the Ukraine, which we view as true friendship, will strengthen significantly in every way."