Greece’s relations with the Arab world are “win-win”


Prospects for Greek-Israeli relations are “very good,” Israel’s Ambassador to Greece Yossi Amrani told NAMA in an interview on the sidelines of the 2021 Thessaloniki Summit released on Saturday, which also noted the contribution. from Greece to these, thus contributing to the security and prosperity of the Eastern Mediterranean.

In the interview, the Ambassador also highlighted the country’s role in efforts like the Eastern Mediterranean Gas Forum which builds on both energy differentiation and opportunities for countries, including European ones, to strengthen relations in the region.

Ambassador Amrani also said he was convinced that there was “goodwill” regarding the start of construction of the Holocaust Museum in Thessaloniki, and the start is “a matter of months”.

Asked to comment on the phenomena of anti-Semitism in Greece, he said he was more worried about the lack of education, because “more than 70 years after the Holocaust, the memory of peoples is too short and ignorance is so wide “, and hopes that the future museum can help change that.

“Greece, a friendly country”

Speaking on bilateral relations, Amrani said: “The outlook is very good.

“I am very optimistic about the relationship and I would certainly give credit to the Greek government for its efforts to intensify, strengthen, deepen the relations between the two countries”, explaining that he sees significant progress on all aspects of the relations bilateral and regional relations. , as well as at the trilateral level.

“Moreover, Greece is a friendly country, Greece is a neighboring country,” he said. “We agree on many issues and while in the past the focus of the relationship has been on defense and joint military exercises, you are now seeing increased exchanges between the two countries.”

In this regard, the Ambassador cited the fact that in the past 3.5 months the two foreign ministers of Israel and Greece have met twice in Israel, once in Brussels, once in Washington, in addition to exchanging WhatsApp and phone calls, a significant indication of the closeness of the relationship.

“The very fact that we can pick up the phone and discuss issues that concern either country – we share our concerns, you share yours – and we try to help each other out, is a certain peak and I would give credit to the prime minister [Kyriakos] Mitsotakis, to the Minister of Foreign Affairs [Nikos] Dendias, to the Minister of Defense [Nikos] Panagiotopoulos – and excuse me for not going through the list of government ministers, ”Amrani added.

The Israeli Ambassador also noted “openness and goodwill” in bilateral relations, even in emergency and crisis management situations:

“When a fire broke out in Israel, [State] Minister [George] Gerapetritis called me and offered me support, we have extended our support to Greece according to your needs.

In addition, one of the goals of the new climate crisis minister, Christos Stylianides, was to improve relations and cooperate regionally and with Israel on climate change.

“So the Greek government – and I am a big supporter of its policies on these issues – sees the region as a whole and it is trying to develop a strategy that will be good for Greece and good for other countries,” he said. ‘ambassador. Noted.

Greece’s “huge contribution” to regional cooperation

Greece and Israel have also developed a tradition, he said, of joint military exercises with Greece and with other countries.

He cited the exercises of Andravida or Cyprus (“Nemesis”).

On the latter, Amrani commented: “You were there, the Egyptians were there. Just imagine that through this Hellenic alliance that you are promoting, countries feel comfortable cooperating with each other.

“And I don’t need to name the countries.

“So I see a huge contribution from Greece and its good contacts with Israel and its good contacts with Arab countries to bring more balance, security and prosperity to the region.”

The ambassador further described as a potential “win-win” the closer relationship that Greece can cultivate with the Arab world.

“It’s good for Greece, it’s good for the Arab world and it’s good for Israel,” he noted, adding that “by cooperating with Greece, we can achieve a level of cooperation regional as with ΕMGF (Eastern Mediterranean Gas Forum) ”.

The EMGF, he said, is a regional gas forum, “very popular with countries that are not necessarily Mediterranean countries and are knocking on the door and would like to be accepted into the EMGF. It is a direct investment in the strategic relevance of a country.

Energy independence and diversification of national security interests

Speaking of the energy sector, the Israeli Ambassador stressed that “the energy independence of any country or energy diversity is a national security interest”.

Regional cooperation on gas and energy, EMGF, “enables Europe to diversify its resources”.

As he explains, this “allows Europe to strengthen its relations with the Mediterranean countries, Egypt and Israel, and gives Greece a major lever to diversify its economy in order to play a more important role in the market. European energy and to be an entry point to Europe for Mediterranean energy. . “

The “Abraham Accords” a “strategic game changer” for Israel

The Israeli ambassador also took note of Abraham’s agreements, calling them a “strategic game changer for Israel”, which opened the door to a close relationship he has with some of the Gulf countries to a great extent. dynamic for both parties.

In particular, he said, the exchange of visits in recent months between the UAE and Israel is very impressive, as well as the follow-up bilateral agreements.

He noted in particular the United Arab Emirates’ interest in the port of Haifa and Greece’s close relations with the Arab country.

“There is goodwill” in the Holocaust museum project

Regarding the Holocaust Museum project in Thessaloniki and the prospect of work starting soon, Ambassador Amrani expressed the belief that “there is goodwill” and said “it is a matter of months before seeing any work happen “.

“To be a Jew means never to lose hope and to be an Israeli means to believe in miracles. So I wouldn’t give up hope and I believe in miracles. I think there is goodwill, ”the ambassador said.

“I will start by saying that there is a need for a Holocaust memorial, a Holocaust museum in Greece and nowhere other than Thessaloniki.

“Because it has been the center of Jewish life for hundreds and hundreds of years and the Holocaust tragedy is horrific everywhere and here too.

“There is goodwill on the part of [Thessaloniki] Mayor and President of the Jewish Community of Thessaloniki and KIS M. [David] Saltiel.

“There is good will on the part of the government. The Prime Minister himself, to my knowledge, is personally involved, personally interested. Vice Prime Minister [Panagiotis] Pikrammenos is leading the effort.

Regarding the schedule, “I think we are moving forward on the design, on the zoning, on the permits and I think it’s a matter of months before we see the work unfold. Am I optimistic?

“I think I’m a realist because I know how important it is to everyone. We have to overcome some difficulties.

“I’m not saying that all the difficulties have been resolved. There are some. But the direction is very clear and we are moving in the right direction.

“But that requires the goodwill of all the partners. I have to say that the government completely agrees.

Worried about anti-Semitism, “but no longer about the lack of education”

When asked if he was concerned about the phenomena of anti-Semitism in Greece, Ambassador Amrani said that “everyone should be worried about anti-Semitism.

“Not because it poses an immediate threat at a specific time.

“Because it proves ignorance, it proves bigotism, it proves lack of education. You have to educate.”

The museum, once erected in Thessaloniki, would help inform people about what happened, the ambassador said.

“I am not concerned with a specific anti-Semitic incident. I am concerned that more than 70 years after the Holocaust peoples’ memory is too short and ignorance is so large. Am I concerned about anti-Semitism? Yes, but I’m more concerned about the lack of education.

READ MORE: AMRANI AMBASSADOR: Israel is a leading investor in Greek tourism and real estate.

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