(Communicated by the Prime Minister’s Media Adviser)

Prime Minister Ariel Sharon met today (Tuesday), 30 November 2004, in his Jerusalem office, with Estonian Prime Minister Juhan Parts and made the following remarks:

“I want to welcome you and the members of your delegation to Jerusalem, the capital of the Jewish People and the united capital of Israel. This is the first visit by an Estonian Prime Minister to Israel and I would like to express my appreciation for this as well as for his intentions that his visit contribute towards the advancement of bilateral relations.

Bilateral relations have developed and proceeded apace since Estonia declared its independence in 1991. Israel sincerely wants to enhance bilateral relations in various spheres.

Estonia is among the 10 countries that have recently joined the European Union. We wish you success and a successful absorption into the EU. We hope that the accession of new member states will exert a positive influence on Europe’s position and the positions of the new EU vis-a-vis Israel will become more balanced.

This now becomes doubly important given the increasing displays of anti-Semitism. The Jewish people and the State of Israel will never forget the fate of the approximately 2,000 Estonian Jews who were murdered during the Holocaust by the Nazis and their collaborators, as well as the thousands of others who were brought to Estonia from neighboring countries and were murdered on its soil. The survivors of this community who today live in Israel and Estonia constitute a bridge to the advancement of bilateral relations.

I would like to express my appreciation for the actions of the Estonian government and for its sensitivity to Jewish and Israeli issues. Worthy of mention are the Estonian government decision to hold a Holocaust remembrance day on the day of the anniversary of the liberation of the Auschwitz extermination camp, and Estonia’s support for the UN General Assembly decision on religious intolerance, which included a condemnation of anti-Semitism. The defeat of anti-Semitism is no less important for us than it is for the nations of the entire free world.

Our bilateral relations have great potential and we ascribe great importance to their advancement. I have no doubt that your visit to Israel will contribute to the development and enhancement of these relations. This is in our interests and we plan to invest great effort in implementing this goal.

Mr. Prime Minister, I wish you a successful and fruitful visit to our country. I am certain that you will feel among friends here.”