Greek Foreign Minister to visit Israel in May

Foreign Minister Dimitris Avramopoulos said on Friday that he is to conduct an official visit to Israel next month to discuss a range of bilateral issues.

In an interview with the Athens-Macedonia News Agency, Avramopoulos said his visit would come ahead of a «High Level Cooperation Council» that the Greek and Israeli prime ministers recently agreed to establish and would strengthen ties between the two countries. «This will mark another new beginning. It will bring our policies even closer together, and it will formulate a firm framework for ongoing cooperation,» Avramopoulos said, referring to «huge prospects in both our wider neighborhood and on the global level.”

Avramopoulos was asked about Greece’s position on Turkey, which recently tightened its bonds with Isreal following a US-mediated apology by Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to his Turkish counterpart Recep Tayyip Erdogan for an Israeli raid on a Gaza-bound flotilla in May 2010 that resulted in the death of nine Turkish activists.

Avramopoulos insisted that the message Greece is sending Turkey “is a message of friendship and cooperation.” “The excellent cooperation we have with Israel, the very good cooperation that is developing more and more with Turkey – this cooperation has no bearing on our relations with the other country,” Avramopoulos said. Of Turkey’s rapprochement with Israel, he said Athens saw it “with neither concern nor anxiety.” “The opposite is the case. I must confess to you that it was something that we wanted from the very outset,” Avramopoulos said, adding that what interests Greece is “shaping an environment of security, cooperation and peace for all the peoples of the region.”

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