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Message of Minister of Foreign Affairs Nikos Dendias on the 30th anniversary of full diplomatic relations between Greece and Israel, in the newspaper Yedioth Ahronoth

Thursday, 21 May 2020

Today marks 30 years since the establishment of full diplomatic relations between Greece and Israel. On 21 May 1990, on the initiative of then prime minister Konstantinos Mitsotakis, the major step towards the upgrade of bilateral relations between the cradle of Democracy and a modern and dynamic Democracy in the Middle East region was taken.

Since then, an important strategic partnership in our region has been forged. Greece and Israel, countries rich in history and culture, mature societies with highly educated and active citizens, with economies based on advanced technological and financial infrastructure, are collaborating effectively. Through this multifaceted partnership, we are also setting an important example: Cooperation is the only way to ensure security, stability and prosperity in our region.

Today, our cooperation extends into the fields of science, culture, trade, innovation, energy, tourism, and security and defence – and it is constantly developing in new fields. There is still much that can be done, much more to achieve. We wish to further intensify our relations, strengthening and deepening the institutional framework and contacts on the level of civil society. The Greek Jewish community and the Greek Orthodox Patriarchate in Jerusalem already constitute strong bridges of friendship between the two countries; as do our diaspora organizations, especially in the USA, which are building an invaluable relationship. A relationship that is reflected in both our bilateral relations and Greek-Israeli relations with the USA.

New ties are steadily being added to these relations, further enriching the heritage that historically links the two peoples. The friendship between us is apparent in the ever-growing tourism traffic between our two countries and the increasing interest of Israeli entrepreneurs in investing in Greece.

Today, Israel and Greece are working together to combat anti-Semitism and the Greek State always stands in support of the Greek Jewish community. As Greeks, we consider it our duty to keep the memory of the Holocaust alive. The memory of these tragic events must remain indelible so as to ensure that the Nazi atrocities are never repeated; to ensure that latter-day fascists find no fertile ground for spreading the ideology of hatred that they represent and that they continue to be defeated, thanks to the deep-rooted democratic convictions of our peoples. This purpose will be served by the Holocaust Museum currently under construction in Thessaloniki and the new permanent Greek exhibition at Auschwitz. In the same context, Greece will be holding the presidency of the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance (IHRA) in 2021.

The upgrading of our relations is having a positive impact not only on a bilateral level, but also in the unstable environment of the Eastern Mediterranean. Our trilateral cooperation with the Republic of Cyprus – with the support and participation of the USA in a 3+1 format – works in the same direction. Collaboration that is open to, rather than directed against, third countries, on the condition of course of respect for international law and good neighbourly relations. A partnership that aims to act as catalyst for the promotion of peace, stability, security and prosperity in the Eastern Mediterranean and the Middle East. Prosperity that will also be further strengthened by the implementation of pivotal infrastructure projects such as the East Med pipeline, a project of added strategic, economic and political value, the foundations of which were laid by the signing of a relevant agreement in Athens earlier this year.

At the same time, Greece remains firmly committed to strengthening the partnership between the European Union and Israel.

“If you don’t believe in miracles, you are not a realist,” David Ben-Gurion said. Over the past 30 years, Greece and Israel we 've achieved much more that perhaps even we expected. A small miracle. Today, we are united by so much that I am convinced this friendship and partnership will surge ahead in the immediate and more distant future. To this end, I look forward to regular exchanges of views and excellent cooperation with my newly appointed colleague, Gabi Ashkenazi, with whom I will meet as soon as conditions allow.