Kyriakos Mitsotakis meets Alternate Prime Minister & Minister of Foreign Affairs of Israel, Yair Lapid

Kyriakos Mitsotakis: It is so good to welcome you to Athens once more. We seem to be making a habit of this very close contact between the Greek and Israeli governments. And I’m sure that you’ve had constructive discussions with Nikos (Dendias). We are in a period of significant geopolitical turbulence and during these times it is always important to reaffirm our traditional friendships and to make sure that we know exactly who our allies are. Our relationship is going from strength to strength on numerous runs/ fronts and I’m very happy about that.

And of course there are always new opportunities to explore, especially when it comes to energy cooperation, as we’re all looking to diversify away from Russian oil and gas. I think the Eastern Mediterranean is becoming that much more important. So all projects that interconnect the Eastern Mediterranean, be it through physical pipelines or through LNG or through electricity interconnections, should very much be on our radar. We’ve done a lot of work in that direction and maybe this is an opportunity to push forward with some of the projects that we have talked about in the past. So again, welcome. Pleasure to see you and to have you in Athens.

Yair Lapid: Thank you, Prime Minister. Last time we met I was the leader of the opposition. So we’re making some progress in the world.

Kyriakos Mitsotakis: And more progress will be made.

Yair Lapid: So they say. It’s a pleasure to be here. It’s not the first time, by all means, I’m in Greece, but it’s the first time I’m in this position and it’s a pleasure to be here and to revisit some of the sites I like and some of the people I like. As you said, these are turbulent times that we are meeting with. It was important to me also to be here. Everybody knows -it’s no secret- that there is an improvement in the relationship between Israel and Turkey. And it was important to me to come over here and say: listen, this, by all means, does not come on the expense of our relationships which are so close with Greece and this alliance we have is extremely important to us. Αnd you’re going to be informed on everything and you’re going to be working with us on this, as we do on other issues. And we’re going to have further discussions about how to improve our bilateral relationship.

You mentioned the energy sector. You’re right. We have to diversify. We have to find other ways to supply Europe with the heat and electricity it needs and we’re going to be part of this and we’re going to do this. I see no other option but us doing it with you in the same fashion of close coordination that we already have, as well as having the same fashion of close coordination on security which is also important in this turbulent world.

I think we have to tighten the ropes a little bit more. We have to have a further discussion about making our region and the Middle East and the Mediterranean as well more secure. Israel just suffered a few terror attacks and we need to make sure that our peoples are saved in God. We also have today the trilateral meeting with Cyprus. It was knowledgeable and enjoyable discussing things with Ioannis (Kasoulides). We’ve also discussed the JCPOA about Iran. I emphasized the fact that Iran is not only a nuclear threat, but also a threat. Iran is Hezbollah, Iran is Hamas, Iran is Islamic Jihad. Iran is the proliferation of terror all around the world.

I know you are aware of it. Our security organizations are in close contact on the issues that concern us. Of course, we also want to develop commerce and trade. Tourism is back, which is a great thing for Greece and for Israel. We’re going to work on the next “3 + 1” that we want to have with the Americans. I know you are as eager as we are to promote it.