President Reuven Rivlin hosted an official welcome ceremony Wednesday for Greek President Prokopis Pavlopoulos, who is on a state visit to Israel.
The President welcomed his guest on the red carpet, before the two stood for the national anthems, reviewed a guard of honor, and delivered brief public statements. They then went on to hold a working meeting during which they discussed the strengthening of bilateral ties between the two countries.
President Rivlin welcomed President Pavlopoulos and said, "It is a great honor for us to host you, a true friend of Israel." President Rivlin stressed the historic connection between the two peoples and noted, "Throughout history there has been close and fruitful contact between the people of Greece and the people of Israel, in both the world of ideas, and in the world of deeds. Today we are two western democracies seeking peace, stability, and security, and who share the same space here in the Eastern Mediterranean, which we have in recent years discovered is quite a small space indeed.
"We are not just friends, but neighbors. The wars and lack of peace and quiet in the Middle East have created a turbulence which has directly impacted upon both of us. The chaos in Syria and the need to face terrorism without a doubt continue to constitute challenges which we must deal with, alongside our economic efforts."
The President stressed the shared danger posed by extremist Islam and ISIS in the region. He said, "Close and neighboring countries in the Eastern Mediterranean must recognize the common danger posed by militant Islam and ISIS, unite against this enemy, and to form one alliance; a regional security and economic alliance to bring an end to global terror. It is my hope that our meeting, which is taking place amidst an ongoing strengthening of ties between our countries and peoples, will reinforce the strategic alliance which is growing and taking shape between our peoples."
President Pavlopoulos thanked President Rivlin for his warm words and welcome and stressed that he was delighted to be visiting Israel, and remarked on the warm relationship between the two countries, "The shared position of our two peoples in this region and our abilities, enable us through cooperation to overcome the challenges we face."
He added, "The roots of the relationship between our two peoples stretch further back than our diplomatic relations. We must understand our tasks. We can cooperate on a range of issues, yet the most important issue is that of regional peace, protecting democracy, human life, and mutual assistance.
"There are many challenges in our region and in Europe in general. Now is the time to act according to our shared values. You have experienced what it means to be refugees. In Greece we are receiving refugees just as our ancestors did, as human beings who deserve rights. Yet when it comes to terrorism, the example of the jihadists and ISIS, we cannot accept this, and we must be absolute in the face of this.
"Their terror is aimed at all humanity. We must make clear to Europe that we stand against terror together, and that when it comes to the issue of the refugees we will not allow expressions of hatred between people, which is the source of racism and anti-Semitism. I view with great concern the rise in the wave of hatred. We must eliminate it, with the memory of the Holocaust; we must fight against terrorism, but for human life. We must not allow the European continent to return to darkness, Europe must continue to be a continent of enlightenment and humanity."
He concluded by saying to President Rivlin, "Your patience and tolerance are evidenced in the many issues we have to discuss. I extend to the Israeli people my wishes for peace and security, in which they may live in health and prosperity, and face the great challenges before us. I see in you a great and dear friend of my country."