The President of the Chamber of Deputies of Romania, Valeriu Stefan Zgonea, visited the Knesset on Thursday as a guest of Knesset Speaker Yuli-Yoel Edelstein.
Zgonea, who was accompanied by a number of other Romanian MPs, was greeted with an official ceremony and laid a wreath at the foot of the memorial honoring Israel`s fallen soldiers. He also signed the Knesset guestbook.
Edelstein mentioned a recent gathering of parliament speakers and members from around the world in the Czech Republic, during which a ceremony was held at the Theresienstadt concentration camp in honor of International Holocaust Remembrance Day. There, he said, ”I was able to witness the deep friendship of our guest for the Jewish people and the State of Israel.
”Together with the president of the European Parliament and the leaders of the Czech Parliament, he worked unceasingly to promote the signing of the mutual declaration to fight anti-Semitism and hate crimes…It is important to emphasize these things, especially in light of the fact that the monster of anti-Semitism is showing its face in Europe once again,” the Knesset speaker said during the ceremony.
Edelstein also noted Zgonea`s ”deep commitment to the safety and nurturing” of the Jewish community in Romania. ”He pays special attention to promoting education and the dissemination of the Holocaust heritage,” the Knesset speaker added, while mentioning the ”strong stance” Zgonea takes on matters related to Israel.
The president of the Romanian Chamber of Deputies said his visit ”sends a strong message that the two countries are together and will remain together for many centuries in the international forum.”
”Over the past few years I have had the pleasure of meeting several friends from Israel and the Knesset. We share the same values, we share the same dreams. We want a better place for us and our families. We want a safe place to send our kids to school… As parliamentarians, we want to do these things for our countries and for our citizens. This is why I believe the State of Israel is the best friend that we have in the region, and one of the best friends that we have in the international forum,” Zgonea stated.
During the ceremony, Zgonea and Edelstein signed a memorandum of understanding between the Israeli and Romanian parliaments. The document stresses the importance both sides attach to tightening relations between the legislatures.
The joint initiatives will include the exchange of parliamentary delegations, as well as the exchange of research material related to various legislative issues. In addition, cooperation between the committees of the Knesset and the Romanian Chamber of Deputies will be expanded in areas such as security and foreign affairs, the economy, health, science and technology, the status of women and more. Furthermore, the joint activities of the parliaments` friendship groups and lobbies will be expanded.
The memorandum of understanding also determines that the sides are committed to increasing cooperation in various international and bi-parliamentary forums, as Romania had done when it unequivocally supported Israel`s stance during discussions at the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe on the morality and importance of ritual circumcision. Mr. Zgonea himself was among the initiators of a joint statement issued by European parliament heads regarding the fight against anti-Semitism and hate crimes.
Zgonea said the agreement ”shows that we can strengthen our relations, deepen our friendship and have an action plan for the coming years.”