Minister of Foreign Affairs Yair Lapid concluded a two-day working visit to East Europe in Bratislava.
By Jonathan Hessen and Erin Viner
Strong bilateral ties during peacetime have been further bolstered “in this time of war,” said a statement TV7 obtained from the Israeli Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MFA).
During discussion about the situation at border crossings and in the countries surrounding Ukraine with, Minister Lapid thanked President of Slovakia, Zuzana Čaputová, for her staff’s cooperation with MFA personnel to assist in Israel’s delivery of over 100 tons of medical equipment, generators and other goods.
“Israel and Slovakia are cooperating in getting humanitarian aid into Ukrainian territory,” said Jerusalem’s top diplomat.
President Čaputová thanked the Israeli Minister for the visit and expressed hope he would soon be able to return “in times of peace and quiet,” said the statement.
Following earlier meetings with Slovak Minister of Foreign and European Affairs Ivan Korčok at the Ministry of Foreign & European Affairs in Bratislava, Lapid underscored that “Israel will do everything it can to assist mediation efforts to stop the shooting and restore peace. We are working together with our greatest ally, the United States, and our European friends, to prevent the continuation of this tragedy.”
Reiterating that “Israel, like Slovakia, condemns the Russian invasion of Ukraine, and calls for an end to the fighting,” Lapid stressed, “There is no justification for violating Ukraine’s territorial integrity, and there is no justification for attacks on a civilian population.”
In an effort to clarify Jerusalem’s position, Lapid went on to say that, “Israel will not be a route to bypass sanctions imposed on Russia by the United States and other Western countries,” and that the MFA “is coordinating the issue together with partners, including the Bank of Israel, the Finance Ministry, the Economy Ministry, the Airports Authority, the Energy Ministry and others.” (see the text of Minister Lapid’s full statement below)
Lapid’s comments came in response to mounting pressure from Washington over Jerusalem’s apparent hesitancy in joining international sanctions against Moscow, including a call by United States Under Secretary of State for Political Affairs Victoria Nuland for Israel to reject becoming “the last haven for dirty money that is fueling [Russian President Vladimir] Putin’s wars.”
Joining efforts for Israel to assume a stronger stance against Russia, Ukrainian Ambassador to Israel Yevgen Korniychuk stressed during remarks to the media that is unnecessary for Jerusalem to remain impartial for the purpose of sustaining the status as an “honest broker” as it is not the sole party seeking to mediate a ceasefire between Kyiv and Moscow.
“What we expect from Israel at the moment, the government, (is) to join the sanctions of the alliance, including but not only the US and European Union,” said Ambassador Korniychuk, emphasizing that, “Regardless what the government will decide in terms of the sanctions, we do believe that (the) current war is a war of values. And we do hope that morally the decision will be taken but every single big business in Israel to stop doing any collaboration with the Russian companies.”
Minister Lapid’s Full Remarks in Bratislava:
“I just concluded a productive work meeting with my friend, Foreign Minister Korčok. We discussed continuing our cooperation at the Vyšné Nemecké crossing between Ukraine and Slovakia, to make it easier for Jews and Israelis remaining in areas of conflict to leave.”
“Israel, like Slovakia, condemns the Russian invasion of Ukraine, and calls for an end to the fighting. There is no justification for violating Ukraine’s territorial integrity, and there is no justification for attacks on a civilian population.”
“This war must end. European soil has known too many wars, and the only thing that came out of them was terrible suffering. In recent years, there has been peace in Europe, and what has emerged has been prosperity that the human race has never seen before.”
“Israel will do everything it can to assist mediation efforts, to stop the shooting and restore peace. We are working together with our greatest ally, the United States, and our European friends, to prevent the continuation of this tragedy.”
“Israel will not be a route to bypass sanctions imposed on Russia by the United States and other western countries. The Ministry of Foreign Affairs is coordinating the issue together with partners including the Bank of Israel, the Finance Ministry, the Economy Ministry, the Airports Authority, the Energy Ministry, and others.”
“Israel and Slovakia are cooperating in getting humanitarian aid into Ukrainian territory. So far, Israel has sent over 100 tons of medical equipment, generators, and other goods into Ukraine, and we thank the government of Slovakia for its cooperation.”
“My friend, Mr. Foreign Minister, we wanted to hold this visit under entirely different circumstances, and for completely different reasons. I ask you to keep open your generous invitation for a visit of a different kind, during which we will not discuss wars, but rather – the friendship between us.”
“Israel and Slovakia have deep and strong ties, but the two of us believe its possible to deepen and strengthen them even further. We both have ideas about how to do this, but at the moment: We are focused on the effort to assist the Ukrainian people, and refugees from the war. I look forward to hosting you soon in Israel on the occasion of the opening of your new office in Jerusalem. Thank you.”