Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu pledged Monday to help Greece’s floundering economy during a meeting with the country’s Foreign Minister Nikos Kotzias, who is in Israel in a bid to strengthen bilateral ties between the two countries.
Netanyahu said Kotzias’s decision to go ahead with his visit — hours after Greece voted to reject European austerity measures in exchange for an economic bailout from international creditors — demonstrated his commitment to strengthen cooperation between Jerusalem and Athens.
“You come here at a critical time for Greece, and I appreciate the fact that you made this visit, despite some rather dramatic events in your country,” the prime minister said at a press conference before the meeting.
Hailing Greece as a Western, peace-seeking democracy, Netanyahu told Kotzias that Israel was “committed to help in any way we can to ensure your success.”
He referred to the recent discovery of bomb-making equipment at the home of a suspected Hezbollah-linked terrorist in Cyrus, and said that Greece and Israel were allies in the ongoing fight against Islamic extremism.
“We need to cooperate to seek stability, security, peace and prosperity. And these are the subjects that I look forward to discussing with you and so many other things,” added the PM.
Israel and Greece have recently sought to strengthen ties in a bid to counterbalance Turkey’s influence in the region. The countries take part in a yearly military drill with the US, in a sign of increasingly warm relations.
Netanyahu also took the opportunity to reiterate his condemnation of the emerging nuclear deal between Iran and the P5+1 world powers, which, he claimed, would facilitate Iranian-sponsored terrorism across the world.
“Every day, more concessions are made and every day the deal becomes worse and worse. I could say that what we see in Vienna is not a breakthrough, but more like a breakdown, a breakdown of the principles that the P5+1 committed itself to uphold in the Lausanne negotiations,” he commented.
Kotzias offered his gratitude to Israel for its concern over his country’s economic crisis, saying, “I thank Israel for following what is happening in Greece, and for caring for us.
“Greece is a small country with a long history and more than a few problems, but I am sure that we will overcome this crisis,” he added.
Kotzias met with Netanyahu, who also is currently serving as foreign minister, along with President Reuven Rivlin and other government ministers on Monday. He is also scheduled to meet with opposition leader Isaac Herzog later during the visit.
On Wednesday, Kotzias is due to meet with the leadership of the Palestinian Authority in Ramallah.
Kotzias announced last month, during a meeting with PA Foreign Affairs Minister Riyad al-Maliki, that he had instructed his ministry to refer to the area under the PA as “Palestine.”
Israel’s National Economic Council chairman, Eugene Kandel, on Sunday briefed government ministers on the economic crisis in Greece, saying Israel had enacted policies allowing it to avoid Greece’s fate. Kandel will also reportedly meet with Kotzias during his visit.