ATHENS – The excellent climate in relations between Israel and Greece was confirmed during the meeting between President of the Republic Prokopios Pavlopoulos and his Israeli counterpart Reuven Rivlin at the presidential mansion on Monday. Rivlin is on a three-day official visit to Athens and Thessaloniki.
Pavlopoulos noted the strategic importance of relations between the two countries and expressed Greece’s support for convening the EU-Israel Association Council as soon as possible.
According to Pavlopoulos, Israel was closer to the West and particularly the EU as regards its democratic institutions and general political orientation.
The president reiterated Athens’ “red lines” on foreign policy issues and called on Rivlin to support Greece, underlining that the common denominator linking Israel and Greece was their respect for international law.
On Greek-Turkish relations, Pavlopoulos reiterated Greece’s support for Turkey’s European perspective and said that Athens is striving for the best possible relations with the neighbouring country but that Turkey, in turn, must respect international and European law.
On relations with FYROM, he said that Greece supports the country’s accession to NATO and the EU provided there is a solution of the name issue that eliminates all hints of irredentism. “This prospect depends on the use of a name devoid of irredentism and which does not question, in any way, the status quo of the current borders,” he said and urged FYROM to make the necessary changes to its laws, removing all irredentist elements.
Pavlopoulos also underlined the need to end the conflict in the Middle East and expressed his support for a fair and sustainable solution of the Palestinian issue, which will ensure peace and security for both peoples.
The Greek president expressed his support for the strengthening of EU-Israeli relations and noted that the three pillars of European civilisation are Athens, Rome and Jerusalem. At this point, President Rivlin intervened and said that, as Athens and Rome were the capitals of Greece and Italy, respectively, so Jerusalem was Israel’s capital.
Immediately, Pavlopoulos explained that Greece is aligned with the EU position on this issue, with the implementation of the rules of international law. A position that “does not change our willingness to see Israel coming ever closer to Europe,” he added.
The Greek President sent a message against the revival of Nazism and assured his Israeli counterpart that Greeks consider the Holocaust Museum that will be built in Thessaloniki the least homage due to the city’s Jewish community. The foundation stone for the new museum will be laid on Tuesday, in a ceremony attended by Rivlin.
“The action of the remnants of fascism and Nazis, who pose a danger for humanity must not be permitted,” said Pavlopoulos.
On his part, Rivlin thanked Pavlopoulos for his warm reception and hospitality, underlining the prospects for further strengthening Greek-Israeli relations. Greece’s cooperation with Israel has become even more important now due to their joint plans for the region’s energy reserves, which included Nicosia, he added.
Enough with the wars and the conflicts, Rivlin said and supported solutions that combine security and peace.
He said that Greece and Israel have “red lines” that they will not allow anyone to cross.
Finally, speaking about the Greek Holocaust Museum, he noted that, through the museum, humanity said no to anti-Semitism and he thanked the Greek government for the very good cooperation with Israel.
PM Tsipras to President Rivlin: We must take bold steps for peace and stability in the region
Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras emphasised the importance of Israeli President Reuven Rivlin’s visit to Greece while receiving Israel’s president at the Maximos Mansion on Monday.
“You come at a symbolic moment,” said Tsipras, noting that Rivlin’s visit came just two days after International Holocaust Remembrance Day. “The Greek Jewish community suffered greatly during WWII,” the Greek premier added.
He referred to the close bilateral relations between the two countries, adding that their shared history was a lesson for the future. Tsipras underlined the need for cooperation to address the challenges in the region, mostly in the matter of security: “We must take bold steps for peace and stability.”
On his part, Rivlin stated: “It is our fate to live together and to turn the southeastern Mediterranean into a paradise, all of us together – Israel, Cyprus, Palestine, Egypt, Jordan and Greece.”
Tsipras and Rivlin are to travel to the northern Greek city of Thessaloniki on Tuesday, to attend a ceremony laying the foundation stone of a new Holocaust Museum in the city.