Greece's "strategic partnership with Israel is strong" (VIDEO) 2

Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis visited Israel for his first overseas trip since the Covid-19 pandemic.

There he met with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu who reiterated his country’s “full support and strong solidarity” to Greece on the issue of maritime zone delineation.

In a joint statement issued after the meeting, Israel said it attached “great importance to its longstanding and important partnership with Greece.”

Israel also called for respect for the sovereign rights of all states in their continental shelf and exclusive economic zone (EZZ) in line with international law.

“We strongly oppose attempts to violate these rights in a manner that endangers the stability of the Eastern Mediterranean and the Aegean Sea, violates international law and runs counter to good neighbourly relations,” the statement continued.

Referring to the exploitation of energy resources in the Eastern Mediterranean, Netanyahu noted: “Our most important project – which we have discussed for a long time and will continue to discuss – is the EastMed gas pipeline route that will connect the gas fields of Israel and Cyprus, through Cyprus and Greece, with Europe. It will be the longest underwater pipeline in the world and we are determined, as we discussed, to move forward.”

 

 

The declaration also made extensive reference to the progress made by both countries since May 21, 1990 after the signing of the relevant joint statement by the governments of the late Konstantinos Mitsotakis (father of Kyriakos) and the late Yitzhak Shamir.

“Our meeting today allowed us to agree on continuing the concerted efforts to intensify cooperation in all fields: foreign affairs, defence, innovation, cyber, agri-tech, science and academic, energy, health, environment, tourism, infrastructure, culture, sports and commerce and investment,” the statement read.

In the field of defence, it was agreed that the two national security advisors of both countries should coordinate more.

In a joint press conference Mitsotakis said: “I would like to start by expressing my gratitude to the Prime Minister, Mr. Netanyahu, for the very warm welcome and hospitality of our entire team. As I prepared for this trip, I looked in my archive where I found a statement from my late father, Konstantinos Mitsotakis, in 1990. He stated that “friendship between Greece and Israel is a key pillar of Greek foreign policy.” This statement was made at a time when this relationship was not as obvious as it is today.”

“Our goal is to discuss with the new Israeli government ways in which we can jointly strengthen and expand our relationship strategy through closer cooperation in a number of key areas. I would like to emphasise that this is a very strong strategic partnership. It is solid and has its own, special characteristics, without being determined by other factors,” he continued.

At the same time, Netanyahu also stated that Greece and Cyprus will be the first destinations for Israeli tourists once restrictions on travel from Israel are lifted on the target date of August 1.

“What I want to tell you is that we worked hard to ensure the safety of our visitors. We are implementing very strict health protocols and we have strengthened health structures in all tourist resorts. We have studied very carefully the way we can open our tourism industry to foreign visitors and we will study it again, so that their safety and health are always our first priority,” Mitsotakis said.

“We are at a turning point where we can assess what has happened in the last 30 years. However, I am particularly convinced that our peoples can benefit much more from the relationship between our two countries, both strategically and geopolitically and economically,” Mitsotakis continued.

“In the field of the relationship between our two cultures, we feel very comfortable when we come to Israel and I know very well that the same is true for the citizens of Israel who visit Greece. This is a relationship that has been going on for thousands of years and I am sure it can be further developed in the future,” he concluded.