President Sarkozy, arriving on an official visit in honor of the 60th anniversary of Israel’s independence, was welcomed by President Shimon Peres and PM Ehud Olmert.

 French President Sarkozy visits Israel


Photo: GPO

Welcoming ceremony for the President of France, Nicolas Sarkozy
Ben Gurion Airport – June 22, 2008

Statement by Israel President Shimon Peres

President of the French Republic, H.E. Nicola Sarkozy,
First Lady Carla Sarkozy,
My dear friends

We welcome you to Israel as a great French leader and an intimate friend of our nation; as a man of action who recognizes the challenges of our times and as a visionary who looks far into the horizon.

You are the leader of a nation that has played a decisive role and has made a distinct historical contribution to the progress of mankind in fields of democracy, culture, art, science, freedom and many more. A nation that persevered through history and demonstrated an inspiring ability to overcome the challenges it faced and continuously spearhead human advance. France’s contribution to the foundation of the State of Israel did not stem from an opportunistic sentiment, but was sparked by the noblest of human values.

Your courageous statement regarding Iran’s nuclear threat to world peace has lifted spirits in far corners of the world and resonated in our region.

France has left an imprint on Israel’s revival. A revival you recently referred to as "one of the most significant events in the 20th century." Our cooperation sparked a cultural foundation and promoted economic cooperation. On this solid ground, and to a great extent inspired by French tradition, Israel has built a prosperous economy and society, based on its enduring commitment to the cultivation of its human capital.

Your visit, upon our celebration of Israel’s 60th anniversary, provides an opportunity to express our heartfelt gratitude to you and to the French people, for having stood at our side in times of trials and tribulations, and for helping us safeguard our freedom.

You carry with you an innovative message of hope for Israel and the region, a commitment that puts tomorrow before of today. A message that heralds the establishment of a framework of cooperation among the peoples of the Mediterranean. A framework that could lead to a psychological breakthrough and economic ties for a better tomorrow.

During my visit to France, I experienced your commitment towards Israel, its existence, security, fate and challenges and above all, the challenge of peace. Upon your visit to Israel, I trust that you will experience the spirit of friendship and mutual values, as well as an expression of gratitude for your leadership.

Welcome to Israel.

Statement by Prime Minister Ehud Olmert

I am pleased to welcome you, President of France, Nicolas Sarkozy, and your wife, Ms. Carla Bruni Sarkozy, in Israel.

President Sarkozy is visiting on the occasion of the 60th anniversary of Israel’s independence, and joins a long, distinguished list of heads of state who have come or are planning to come here to express their support for Israel in this historic year. This gesture of friendship on the part of the President is further evidence of his warm, supportive attitude towards the Jewish people and the State of Israel.
In all my meetings and talks with the President of France, I recognized a deep understanding of Israel’s security needs and the complex challenges with which it is faced, as well as a solid, unshakable personal commitment to Israel’s security and the preservation of our qualitative edge in the region.  In the European Union and in all international forums, France, under the leadership of President Sarkozy, has expressed a supportive and fair stand on issues relating to Israel’s policies in the region, and stood by us in times of trial.

France’s contribution to Israel’s strength and security in the first decades following the establishment of our state was immense, and in recent years, the relations between us have expanded and deepened in an almost unprecedented manner in all fields. The cooperation in the fields of security, economy, culture, trade, science and technology, and many other fields, is exceptional. President Sarkozy’s spirit of friendship and support is evident in all of these fields, and is instrumental to the upgrading of relations between us.

President Sarkozy arrives in Israel with a group of senior government ministers. This constitutes an excellent opportunity to institutionalize the bilateral relations between our countries, through the establishment of a regular strategic dialogue and inter-ministerial mechanisms for coordination and exchange of opinions. Also accompanying the President is a large group of prominent businesspeople from various fields, who will hold meetings with heads of the Israeli economy and discuss joint projects, for the benefit of both countries. I support the President’s initiative to include this important delegation, which will enable us to explore additional means to advance the trade relations between us.

I wish you, Mr. President, and you, Mrs. Sarkozy, an enjoyable and memorable trip to Israel, and thank you again for your understanding and friendship.

Thank you very much.  

* * *

On Tuesday, 24 June 2008, President Shimon Peres and French President Nicolas Sarkozy addressed a French-Israeli business conference at the King David Hotel in Jerusalem. 

President Sarkozy said: "On behalf of France, we would like to declare our love for Israel – we love you! France would like to expand cooperation with Israel in the fields of security, economics, education and culture. Until today, not enough has been done to realize the full potential existing between the countries and from this stage, I call on French business people to move forward on deals, projects and cooperation with Israel." 

President Sarkozy also referred to the Valley of Peace project being promoted by President Peres: "France supports moving forward on the Valley of Peace project and I, as President of France, would like to commit personally and completely to this project. The Dead Sea is drying up and is becoming an ecological catastrophe; this must be fought. We must immediately move forward on construction of the seas canal and advance joint Israeli-France economic and business projects." 

President Sarkozy emphasized that the Palestinian Authority and the Jordanians are an inseparable part of the Valley of Peace project and must be part of all initiatives. He added: "Economic cooperation will move the region forward and will make it easier for political leaders to build peace on the basis of the peace process between Israel and the Arab world. Therefore, I will convene the Mediterranean Sea Basin Committee and am making these efforts during my current visit." 

President Sarkozy concluded his remarks with a special message to Israel: "My friends, you can be proud of what you have accomplished in the last 60 years.  I do not know any other people that could have reached such achievements in such a short time."

President Peres said: "French business people and corporate leaders can advance peace in the Middle East much more than any army. As President of the state of Israel, I call on you to invest, and expand your businesses, in high-tech, the security industries and – above all – the Valley of Peace and the seas canal. Israel is small in size and in the number of its inhabitants.  It cannot serve as a market for you but it certainly can serve as a world-class laboratory for many developments for both France and the world."

Earlier, Presidents Peres and Sarkozy were briefed on, and sat inside, the electric car being jointly developed and praised the bilateral cooperation involved in the green project.

French President Sarkozy warmly thanked President Peres for his hospitality: "Even if there are difficulties, this friendship cannot be severed.  I will always remain your personal friend, a friend of Israel, and a true partner in Israel’s struggle on the Iranian nuclear issue and terrorism, and in its efforts to being the peace processes to fruition."

President Peres said: "A new network of bilateral relations has been created. During this visit, France spread a diplomatic vision based on the strength of a united Europe and on the belief that there is much to be done in both the Israeli-Palestinian sphere and Mediterranean Sea Basin affairs." President Peres also praised President Sarkozy’s innovativeness and creativity.