(Communicated by the Office of the President of Israel)
President Shimon Peres will, tomorrow (Monday, 6 August 2012), leave on an official visit to Greece at the invitation of Greek President Karolos Papoulias, who invited President Peres in order to deepen bilateral ties and expand cooperation on a range of issues, especially diplomatic, security and economic.
President Peres will hold a series of diplomatic meetings with senior Greek leaders including President Papoulias, Prime Minister Antonis Samaras, Parliament Speaker Evangelos Vasileios Meimarakis and leaders of the parties in the new Greek government. President Peres is expected to discuss with his hosts the dramatic changes that have recently occurred in the Middle East, the Iranian threat including the Tehran regime's attempts to strengthen terrorist organizations and produce weapons of mass destruction. It should be noted that relations between Israel and Greece have strengthened over the past two years. President Peres will be accompanied by Agriculture and Rural Development Minister Orit Noked, who will meet with her Greek counterpart, who has asked to expand bilateral agricultural and economic cooperation.
President Peres will be welcomed with full ceremony at the Presidential Palace. Afterwards, the two Presidents will hold a working diplomatic meeting, at the end of which they will deliver joint statements.
President Peres and President Papoulias outside the Presidential Mansion in Athens
(Photo: Israel Embassy, Athens)
President Peres will also attend a state dinner hosted by President Papoulias, which will also be attended by senior Greek business leaders. Greek Prime Minister Samaras will hold a diplomatic meeting with the President in the framework of a luncheon with senior ministers. The President will also be the guest of the Greek Parliament.
President Peres will also host a festive meeting with Greek Jewish community leaders and grant interviews with the local media. Greek Culture Minister Konstantinos Arvanitopoulos will host the President at the Acropolis Museum in order to acquaint him with one of Greece and the world's premiere tourist centers and will utilize the occasion to call on Israelis to visit Greece.
For President Peres, the visit closes a personal cycle. The President's late father, Yitzhak Persky, then a volunteer in the British Army, hid from the Nazis in a Greek monastery, before being captured and sent to Auschwitz. The President will thank the Greek people for saving his father.
Selected excerpts from statements by President Peres in Greece:
"We are here to open a new chapter in our relations, based on the policy of peace, progress of science, the real cultural exchange and development... I believe that closer relations between the two states is a very good omen for both countries, and beyond geography and philosophy we are now adding scientific cooperation, which is the basis for the development of the new era...
The economic crisis in Europe marks a shift from the old to the new world. The bridge between the old and the new world is science. Our two countries can cooperate. We can overcome the crisis and bring something positive to everyone...
One of the most important resources of Greece is tourism and the same goes for Egypt. We want a world full of tourists, not a world full of terrorists. And I think this is a noble goal. Terrorism endangers everyone indiscriminately. We saw this yesterday when a group of terrorists attacked a group of Egyptians; 15 were killed. I wish to express my condolences to their families...
We want there to be peace in the Mediterranean, to end the conflict between us and the Palestinians and find a solution for two peoples and to end terrorism and poverty."