23 November, 2011
Further promotion of multifaceted Greek-Israeli relations, especially cooperation in the energy and tourism sectors, as well as strengthening regional stability in the eastern Mediterranean dominated talks on Tuesday between Greek leadership and visiting Israeli Deputy Foreign Minister Danny Ayalon.
The high-ranking Israeli diplomat met separately with Foreign Minister Stavros Dimas and Defence Minister Dimitris Avramopoulos, as well as a meeting with Deputy FM Dimitris Dollis. Ayalon arrived in Athens on Tuesday for a two-day visit.
The visit is confirmation of the important partnership relationship between the two countries amid a difficult period for Greece, senior Israeli sources told AMNA, adding that the two countries share a strategic relationship inaugurated by an exchange of visits by Israeli PM Benjamin Netanyahu and former Greek premier George Papandreou. Moreover, a joint inter-ministerial council was convened in mid-2010, with a follow-up council planned in 2011 for a review of progress made in the bilateral cooperation and possible next steps.
Enhanced bilateral cooperation also includes an important role for expatriate Greeks and Israelis, in order to join forces for better results, and to work closely for the benefit of both countries, the same sources said.
They noted that Greece and Israel have common strategic interests in energy and energy security, and immense prospects for collaboration in that area.
Natural gas deposits have already been located both in the Israeli and in the Cypriot Exclusive Economic Zones (EEZs), which are considered substantial, and a trilateral Israel-Greece-Cyprus cooperation is being advanced. A draft trilateral Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) has already been drafted that also concerns the management of water resources, which is due to be signed in the near future. This cooperation will render Greece a transit hub, due to its proximity to the European market, and is part of the European policy for diversification of energy sources, forms and routes, the sources continued.
The network of cooperation extends to a series of other sectors, such as natural disasters -- earthquakes, floods, wildfires -- which further strengthen relations among peoples, as was the case after the powerful earthquakes in Turkey in 1999.The first-ever conference focusing on the Greek and Jewish Diasporas, to be hosted in the northern Greek city of Thessaloniki in May, dominated talks between Dollis and Ayalon.
Tourism is another major chapter in the strategic relations between the two countries, and the promotion of cooperation in this area brought 400,000 Israeli tourists to Greece this year, while Israeli entrepreneurs are also eyeing investments in tourism infrastructures.
Dollis said the prospect of granting scholarships to Diaspora Greeks and Jews, as well as preparations for a future meeting of the two countries' Cabinets was also discussed.
On his part, Ayalon expressed the support of the Israeli people to the Greek people and government and referred to Greece’s assistance to the recent firefighting efforts against wildfires in Israel.
He underlined that there is room for further cooperation between the two countries in the sectors of energy, new technologies and science.
Source: Athens News Agency