Photo by Haim Zah, GPO
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu met with Romanian President Klaus Werner Iohannis, who is on an official visit to Israel accompanied by Romanian Foreign Minister Lazar Comanescu and National Education and Scientific Research Minister Adrian Curaj. The two leaders first met privately and then held an expanded meeting. They discussed the deepening of bilateral ties in security and the war on terrorism, cyber, tourism, energy, water and agriculture.
Prime Minister Netanyahu thanked Romanian President Iohannis for his country’s consistent support for Israel and also discussed with him a change in voting patterns in international forums.
Prime Minister Netanyahu:
"Mr. President, it’s a pleasure to welcome you in Jerusalem. You’re known as a friend of Israel. You are a friend of Israel. And Israel is a friend of yours and of Romania. I noticed when I looked at the notes in preparation for this meeting that Romania is the only country, the only European country that had consistently 67 years of diplomatic relations with Israel. So that’s a powerful tradition.
That tradition is buttressed by a human bridge of people, Jews in Romania who contributed to Romanian life and 400,000 Jews from Romania who made a tremendous contribution to Israel in every field, in every aspect of our national life. So we have first a human contact, we have a cultural contact. You know, we all say we are Romanian in one way or the other and we certainly know these sentiments, we know the feelings, we know the great sympathies that connect our people. And this is not something that I’m just saying as a diplomatic courtesy – it’s something that animates our relationship.
We’ve had Israelis who have come to Romania, invested there billions of dollars. We seek to increase our bilateral relations in a variety of areas and they are endless – they are in science and technology, they are in medicine and water-management, they are in defense and security, they are in cyber, they are in all areas of technology and basically every aspect of our activities, of our endeavors.
I would like very much to use this opportunity of your visit to advance this relationship, to move towards a G2G meeting that we can do to ensure that we are moving on a clear trajectory of improving even further our relationship. But above everything else, I see your visit here as an expression of the friendship between our two countries.
Let me say how much I appreciate the position you have taken and Romania has taken against anti-Semitism. It is important not only in the historical context but also in the context of the present and the future. The great slanders that were leveled at the Jewish people are now leveled at the state of the Jewish people, at the State of Israel. Israel which is a model democracy, not perfect but as good as any facing the challenges that we are facing, is being accused, falsely accused of so many things. For example, there’s going to be a Women’s Rights Day and Israel is going to be excoriated for its position on women by states that enslave women. This, in the only country in the Middle East which gives freedom, full equal rights not only to women, minorities, gays, everyone. So there’s an era of absurdity about it. But we have seen in the previous century that absurd slanders can become horrible tragedies.
So in that sense, the stance of Romania against anti-Semitism and also with Israel in European and international forums is much appreciated. It’s standing up for the truth, but it’s also standing up for our common civilization. You mentioned, Mr. President, correctly, the threats that go out from the Middle East and now cover the entire world – the threat of militant Islam under the Shiite leadership of Iran or the Sunni militant leadership of Daesh. These are threatening the entire world. When you look at the Middle East, there is one country – a beacon of freedom, a beacon of democracy, of human rights that protects not only itself but by so doing protects everyone else, including Europe. It is this basic understanding that we wish to impart to our European friends. I think many of them understand it. I’m sure you do too, Mr. President. But it is the basis of our partnership, common values, a common civilization and a common future."