Prime Minister Kyriakos met, earlier today, with the President of Israel Isaac Herzog.
At the start of their meeting, the Prime Minister and the President of Israel had the following dialogue:
Kyriakos Mitsotakis: Welcome to Athens, Mr President. We have the pleasure of welcoming a true friend of Greece. It is an honor and a privilege to have you in our country. Unfortunately your visit is coinciding with an unprecedented attack by Russia, which is violating Ukraine’s sovereignty, which we condemn in the strongest possible words. What needs to happen now is for the war to stop immediately, for Russian troops to stay away from Ukrainian territory, and for Ukraine’s sovereignty to be fully respected.
This is a gross and unprovoked violation of international law which we in Greece, but also the entire European family, condemn in the strongest possible words. And as you know, we will have an extraordinary Council meeting today, where we expect to approve very tough measures, sanctions. But again, this is not just about Ukraine. This is about destabilizing the whole European geopolitical order. At the end of the day, it is about protecting freedom. And we will stand united in defending our values. And I’m sure that also our allies, from all over the world – not just the member states of the European Union, of NATO- will send a very clear, unequivocal message.
It’s a pity that you come in these circumstances. But let me just say, as far as our bilateral relationships are concerned, that they are going from strength to strength. This is something we have discussed many times, it is a relationship I personally place particular value on. And of course we should probably make a reference to the fact, as we both come from political families, that it was my late father, who in April 1990, as his first Foreign Policy decision, formally recognized the state of Israel, thus rectifying a historical injustice on behalf of Greece.
So again, welcome.
Isaac Herzog: First of all, Mr. Prime Minister, I know your challenges and your schedule is really overloaded with a huge world challenge. I, like you, I’m very disturbed and very worried about the humanitarian crisis and the tragedy that will loom over so many innocent civilians and human beings.
And, like you, I pray and call upon all parties concerned to sit down and move towards negotiations. We, the government of Israel, fully support the territorial integrity of Ukraine. And we are also worried about the Jewish community of Ukraine and Israelis in Ukraine. And I hope your deliberations will be successful.
You have been a personal friend of mine for many years and I was really moved when we met and we exchanged pictures of our fathers’ meeting following the historic resolution of your father to recognize the state of Israel, which was long then overdue.
Since then, our relations have gone on track beautifully. And today we are fully partners and strategic allies. And the relationship between Israel and Greece is going from strength to strength in so many fields. I can tell you that the plane I came in with was full to the top, both with business people and with Israeli tourists who just want to come and visit your wonderful country.
And I am closely following your great success, also on the economic front and so many other fronts. We can share together our know-how and experience in tackling the issues of climate change, regional security and so many other things.
And my message to the entire region, especially this region, that all nations and all religions, Christians, Jews and of course, Muslims can dwell together in peace and prosperity.
And clearly today’s crisis only shows that we all need to be together and work together in conjunction with the goals of bettering and improving humanity and circumstances of life for all, especially for our nations.
So I’m here to express my utmost friendship and respect to Greece and to your leadership, and I hope that together this message will resonate also in the great connections between our peoples.
Thank you. Thank you, Mr. President.
The meeting was held in a particularly warm atmosphere, which reflects the exceptional, strategic relations of the two countries and follows the last visit of Kyriakos Mitsotakis to Israel, on December 7, 2021, in the framework of the Trilateral Summit between Greece, Cyprus and Israel, where the Prime Minister had met with Mr Herzog.
The two leaders exchanged views on bilateral policies, defense and economic ties, the course of trilateral cooperation schemes and the general developments in the region, as well as on issues of specific interest both for Greece and Israel.
Mr Mitsotakis and Mr Herzog also exchanged views on Russia’s attack against Ukraine. The Prime Minister reiterated that Greece respects and supports the independence, the sovereignty and the territorial integrity of Ukraine and it is in full alignment with its partners in the EU and its allies in NATO, for a decisive response to the Russian attack.
Kyriakos Mitsotakis informed the Israeli President about the escalation of the Turkish provocation in Eastern Mediterranean and about our country’s moves to address it.