(Communicated by the President’s Spokesman)
 
The President of Israel, Mr. Moshe Katsav sent a congratulatory letter to the heads of the 10 European countries, which joined the European Union at the end of the week.

The letters were sent to the following Heads of State:

The President of Cyprus – Mr. Tassos Papadopoulos, the President of the Czech Republic – Mr.Vaclav Klaus, the President of Estonia – Mr. Arnold Ruutel, the President of Hungary – Dr. Ferenc Madl, the President of Latvia – Mrs.Vaira Vike-Freiberga, the President of Lithuania – Mr. Rolandas Paksas, the President of Malta – Mr. Eddie Fenech Adami, the President of Poland – Mr. Aleksander Kwasniewski, the President of Slovakia – Mr.Ivan Gasparovic.

In his letter the President of Israel wrote that the enlargement of the European Union marks a new chapter, not only in the history of the European Union itself but also in the history of the European continent.  Nations and peoples who had been severed for half a century from their European heritage are now free to revive their cultural and historical  identity.  The people of Israel share the history, culture and basic values of freedom, democracy, human rights and the rule of law with the peoples of Europe, as well as their dreams and aspirations of peace, security and prosperity.

The President continued that Israel welcomes the enlargement of the European Union, with which it has enjoyed close ties for many decades and that he is convinced that the countries joining the European Union will play a constructive role, in the years to come, in the formulation of the policy of the European Union regarding relations with Israel, in a joint effort to achieve peace and stability in the Middle East.

The President noted that Israel and the countries have enjoyed excellent bilateral relations and that he believes that their accession to the European Union will bring them even closer.  In view of the many political, cultural and economic relations between Israel and the European Union,  the President stated that he looks forward to a further strengthening of the ties that already bind Israel and the countries in friendship and mutual respect.

The President concluded his letter by wishing the countries, on behalf of the State of Israel, success in helping to shape the new future of Europe.