image Photos: Amos Ben-Gershom (GPO)

Herzog: Israel, Greece & Cyprus regional “anchors of stability”

Israeli President Isaac Herzog praised ties with the Republic of Cyprus during a lightning, one-day state visit to the island nation.

By Erin Viner

President Herzog traveled to the Presidential Palace in Nicosia, where he was received by Cypriot President Nicos Anastasiades at a state ceremony.

The two presidents then held a diplomatic tête-à-tête, after which they held an expanded bilateral meeting with the participation of both delegations.

President Anastasiades awarded his nation’s highest honor, the Grand Collar of the Order of Makarios III to Herzog in an expression of the strong friendship between their two nations.

Following the meeting, President Herzog and President Anastasiades delivered joint statements.

“I look forward to continuing to work together for a peaceful and prosperous future for our nations and our region,” President Herzog told his Cypriot counterpart, while expressing gratitude for all that he has done to strengthen “the bonds between our peoples and for your personal friendship.”

“Over the last decade, you have played such a key role in building the deep bonds of friendship between our nations, and in developing our strategic three-way alliance with Greece,” said the Israeli leader according to a statement TV7 obtained from his office, adding, “Together with our ally Greece, Israel and Cyprus are anchors of stability in the Mediterranean. Our nations and our peoples will continue to benefit from these bonds of friendship for many years.”

Underscoring that “the Cyprus-Israel relationship is a pillar of Mediterranean stability in the present, and a key to a sustainable, healthy, and prosperous region in the future,” President Herzog express happiness “to see our cooperation continue to grow in many fields, from tourism to energy, to homeland security, emergency response and technology and innovation,” all of which he said “is creating new economic opportunities for our citizens, while making our borders and cities more secure.”

The Israeli leader said that “True friends are those who come to your assistance at your hour of need,” pointing to “our mutual assistance in combating wildfires” as “one expression of the deep trust between our countries.”

He said that he hoped to “shape the next generation of Cyprus-Israel cooperation” by continuing “to deepen our ties even more, in the cultural and people-to-people spheres as well.”

Thanking President Anastasiades for his “leadership in regional forums, particularly in the fields of climate and energy,” Herzog said that Israel “strongly supports developing such forums through strategic action plans, and expanding them to include additional partners, especially the United States.”

Turning to the crisis in Ukraine, Herzog strongly condemned the Russian bombing near Babi Yar (Babyn Yar in Ukrainian), the site of the most notorious atrocities during the Holocaust.

“One of the greatest tragedies that befell the Jewish People was at Babyn Yar, on the outskirts of Kyiv. In 1941, for three days, the Jewish community of Kyiv and its outskirts were deported by foot to the site and shot dead. 33,000 Jews are buried under that site.

Last October, in a very historic event, together with President Zelenskyy of Ukraine and President Steinmeier of Germany I inaugurated a special memorial site where people learn about the human tragedy and atrocious, horrific circumstances of Babyn Yar.

Back in the early 1960s, Russian national poet Yevgeny Yevtushenko published a poem about Babyn Yar which informed the world about the tragedy. Until then, it was totally hidden. This week, I received from a Holocaust survivor a book signed by Yevtushenko with this historic poem.

All of a sudden, that site was attacked by missiles. It epitomizes the terrible tragedy that we are witnessing unfolding in front of our eyes. We express great pain and suffering over what is happening there.

The war in Ukraine is an affront to the international order. I am deeply concerned for the citizens of Ukraine and members of the Jewish community in peril. I hope, and we all hope and pray, this war ends quickly. The Israeli Government reaffirmed its support for Ukraine’s territorial integrity and joined the international community in supporting the resolution at the United Nations General Assembly. Israel is working to advance a diplomatic solution in Ukraine and has offered its services in this regard. We are also sending an unprecedented amount of humanitarian aid: 100 tons. We see this as a moral obligation.

Mr. President, the conflict that is currently unfolding in front of our eyes is a tragic reminder of the necessity of working together to protect our dearest values, principles, and interests. This is exactly my message in (my upcoming visit to) Turkey, as I believe in cooperation between people and all faiths for the wellbeing of humanity.

It is during times of hardship and turmoil that we must stand together and reaffirm our long-standing and historic alliances.”