President Katsav in Germany:  "The Relations between Israel and Germany as countries are excellent.  But it is important that the relations between the two peoples will be as good.  We must build the foundation for the relations between the two countries and peoples for the next 40 years."

(Communicated by the President’s Spokesman)

The President of the State of Israel and his wife, Moshe and Gila Katsav, today started their State Visit in the Federal Republic of Germany, a visit marking the 40th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic relations between the two countries.

The President and his wife were received with a full military ceremony at the airport.  Four Air Force Phantom planes accompanied the President’s plane when it entered the Berlin air space.  A guard of honor of the German army presented their arms when the President and his wife emerged from the plane and were received by the President of the Federal Republic of Germany, Dr. Horst Köhler and his wife. The army band played the anthems and a battery of guns fired 21 shots in honour of the occasion.

The working meeting between President Katsav and President Köhler took place in the Charlottenburg Palace.

The Presidents discussed the need to bring the two peoples closer and to teach and internalise the lessons of the Holocaust.  The President of Germany referred to the possibility of early elections in Germany and said to President Katsav: "Whatever the results of the early elections, the special and excellent relations between our countries will continue to be stable and good."
President Katsav said that, in his opinion, the relations between Germany and Israel need to be based on three issues: "a common set of values, the lessons of the Holocaust and common interests."

President Katsav and his German host agreed on a series of steps to increase the exchange of youth between the two countries and to increase the scientific and cultural relations.

President Köhler said that the "memory of the Holocaust and the conclusions drawn by the Germans regarding their responsibility is not obvious amongst us. We have to confront the issues of the Holocaust and anti-Semitism at all levels and we must ensure that the next generations will feel the responsibility of absorbing the lessons of the Holocaust."

Immediately after the working meeting between them the two Presidents went into a State luncheon which the President of Germany and his wife hosted in honor of President Katsav and his wife in a hall which overlooked the beautifully designed gardens of the Charlottenburg Palace.

Later the President met with the Chancellor of Germany, Mr. Gerhard Schroeder, with the Minister of Foreign Affairs, Mr. Joschka Fischer and with the leader of the Opposition, Mrs. Angela Merkel.
 
The President of Israel and his wife also visited, together with the Speaker of the Bundestag, Mr. Wolfgang Thierse, the memorial site for the European Jews who were killed in the Holocaust.

During the visit President Katsav said that "the main objective is to get the young generation to ask themselves what the reason was for the terrible disaster which happened."

Afterwards President Katsav and his wife, accompanied by the Mayor of Berlin, inaugurated a street, near the Parliament building, in the name of Ben Gurion.  Ben Gurion Street is the continuation of Yitzhak Rabin Street which was inaugurated a year ago by President Katsav.

In the afternoon the President and his wife landed in Munich.  There they participated in a memorial service for the 11 Israeli sportspeople who were murdered in the Olympic village.  The ceremony was attended by the Deputy Prime Minister of Bavaria, the Minister of the Interior, heads of the Jewish community and schoolchildren from the Jewish School in Munich.