Friday, March 21, 2014

Statements by the Minister of National Defence Dimitris Avramopoulos and Israel’s Minister of FA Avigdor Liberman after their meeting at the MoND

Hellenic MOD, 21/3/14

D.AVRAMOPOULOS: I had the pleasure to meet today, here at the Ministry of National Defense, the Minister of Foreign Affairs of Israel, an old colleague and always friend of mine, Mr. Avigdor Lieberman, who pays an official visit to our country.

With Mr. Lieberman, we know each other since his first mandate as Minister of Foreign Affairs of Israel and we met several times then. I remind our meeting in New York, in the framework of the United Nations General Assembly, and after some time, we met again in Israel.

Recently, I paid an official visit to Israel (15-16 December 2013) where I had fruitful discussions with my colleague and friend Mr. Ya’alon, setting new basis for our bilateral relations and cooperation in the field of defence.

Israel and Greece are two countries that are stable factors in this very sensitive neighbourhood of Eastern Mediterranean. During the last years we have established excellent relations, we have upgraded them and we march together this course of peace, friendship, good neighbourly relations and solidarity.

We are nations with a very long history.

Our paths met each other many thousand years ago and have been cultivated on the basis of cooperation, friendship, along with the bonds between the Greek and the Jewish Diasporas.

Given the new reality we must deal with, we are determined to move forward.

Our relations are based on mutual respect, solidarity and friendship.

And today both our Governments are willing to further expand and enhance our bilateral cooperation in all fields.

And we support the settlement of the Middle East Peace Process issue on the basis of two independent states, Israel and Palestine, allowing to both to live in an environment of stability, security, mutual understanding and respect.   

In the field of Defence, as I had said during my previous tenure in office, again in this Ministry, when my very good friend, then Defence Minister of Israel, Ehud Barak visited me in Athens, this strategic cooperation does not constitute any threat to third parties, it does not constitute any threat to anyone. On the contrary, it creates terms of stability and security for our entire region.

We are bringing the two defence systems closer to one another in order to assume a new role in the framework of our objectives for the region, namely for peace, cooperation and stability.

As you know, Greece beyond and above the economic crisis, maintains one of the most reliable and efficient defence systems in Europe.

The top priority of our defence system, evidently, is to defend and protect our national independence, integrity and security.

But, we have put our defence system to the service of causes and objectives of the international law and international peace and order.

In this framework, the strengthening of our strategic relations, particularly in the area of defence and security over the last years, has launched new perspectives for the state of security and prosperity of the citizens of both our countries and of the wider region of the Eastern Mediterranean, at large.

Dear Avigdor,

I would like to warmly thank you, as well as the members of the delegation that accompanies you for the very interesting discussion we had today on the occasion of your visit here. And I wish you every success in your difficult and demanding mission.

Please take the floor.     

A. LIBERMAN: Thank you for the very warm welcome and your hospitality, for our friendship. We discussed, as you mentioned, the cooperation between two countries, between Greece and Israel on all levels, first of all, political and security level. It is crucial for stability of our entire region.

We really enjoy very close cooperation in the last years, we appreciate your personal contribution for this very warm, very friendly relation and, of course, we are monitoring, both of us, the situation in our region, in the Middle East and we exchange views and information and I think it is helpful for the all parts in this region in this part of the world.

We are anxiously monitoring the negotiations, the talks in Geneva between 5+1 framework and Iran. We have a lot of doubts. It is not a secret. We have a lot of questions but we are waiting, we are monitoring and what we see, despite the smiles and despite the diplomatic activity, Iranians up until today they involved in Syria, they involved in Lebanon, in Gaza strip with terrorist activity, we see their ambition to achieve nuclear capability, but still we are monitoring the negotiations in Geneva.

Regarding the peace process and our efforts and American efforts to achieve comprehensive solution with the Palestinian authority, we think that Israel is really ready to do everything to move forward. We are waiting for Palestinian respond to Kerry proposals and we think that the ball is on their court but Israel is ready for direct talks, for proximity talks and we hope that until the end of this month, we will see some positive elements and positive answer from the Palestinian side.

In the end of day again, our cooperation is crucial for all this region, it is crucial for the international community. We are happy to see results, very positive results on political level, economy, the flow of Israeli tourism to Greece and, of course, our security cooperation. And, of course, both of us we have strong commitment to enhance and deepen these ties and our friendship.

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