Greece and Israel build on relationship
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu enjoyed a two day visit to Greece last week which saw both countries seeking to strengthen their military co-operation and the establishment of a joint Greek Israeli Co-ordinating committee.
Greek Prime Minister George Papandreou and the Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu met in Athens on Monday where they discussed tourism, military issues, renewable energy and water resources.
On Tuesday they travelled to the island of Poros where the pair sat down for talks with Defence Minister Evangelos Venizelos, Deputy Defence Minister Panos Beglitis and Deputy Foreign Minister Dimitris Droutsas.
One of the key items on the agenda was the strengthening of cooperation between Greece and Israel on military issues. It was agreed that the joint air force exercise, Minoas, which was cancelled when Israeli commandos boarded ships carrying aid to Gaza in June, should be completed this October.
The two sides also agreed that a visit to Greece by the Israeli air force chief, also postponed for the same reason, should now go ahead.
Greek Prime Minister George Papandreou expressed his satisfaction over the official visit to Greece by his Israeli counterpart Benjamin Netanyahu.
“We can deepen and broaden our relations with Israel in commercial relations, large investments and tourism as well as security,” he said. “We are in the same neighbourhood and Greece has a vital interest in a two-party solution for Israel and the Palestinians, and we want to contribute to the economy and safety of the region.”
He pointed out that Greece is not substituting Turkey as an ally of Israel. “Good relations between Greece and Israel should be complementary and not competitive with relations between Turkey and Israel,” Prime Minister Papandreou stated.
He added that a joint Greek-Israeli committee will be set up to foster greater cooperation between the two countries.
“Relations between Greece and Israel are not competitive with other bilateral or multilateral cooperation,” the Greek Prime Minister said when asked whether such a committee might create problems with neighbouring Turkey.
On his part, Netanyahu stressed that “I agree absolutely with every word that Mr Papandreou said, it would be something if we do not strengthen relations between Greece and Israel.”
He added that Israel is interested in improving its relations with Turkey, but is also interested in developing its relations with Greece in all sectors.
Papandreou expressed certainty that the visit will be helpful in developing bilateral cooperation, as well as cooperation in such sectors as investments, tourism, energy, telecoms, IT services, water desalination and innovation technologies.
Cooperation will also take place in the sector of renewable energy sources, new farm technologies and security.
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