Israel

The discovery of hydrocarbons in the EEZ of our countries is the perfect momentum for our countries to foster a permanent alliance with defensive depth and emphasis on new technologies. Israel and Greece are two ancient nations with strong historical and cultural ties. Furthermore, Israel as a ‘startup nation’ can give Greece a considerable amount of expertise while at the same time its collaboration with China creates new heavens for partnership.

The contacts between our two nations route back to ancient times. Our peoples have coexisted in all major centres of the Byzantine and Ottoman Empires and thus the strengthening of relations with Israel should be considered a matter of priority. However, we had to wait until the discovery of hydrocarbons in the Tamar, Leviathan and Aphrodite reserves in the EEZ of Israel and Cyprus respectively, for our countries to develop a common axis with a defensive depth.

Despite the euphoria created by the discovery of energy reserves, my view is that we have to cooperate first in other areas, so that we foster a great alliance.

Israel was rightly called the «startup nation», as of 1948 has developed very rapidly, internationally tradable services and sectors, from tourism to hydroponics and tech startups to wind energy. To develop these areas Israel turned to the expertise of other countries with similar characteristics such as Singapore or Switzerland.

By carefully observing the development model of the country, one can find astonishing similarities with Greece which is a small country, with limited domestic consumption in an unstable region. However, in contrast to Greece, Israelis turned immediately to major international markets and used their unique advantages.

At a time when Greece leaves behind a vast economic crisis we can take great lessons from the Israeli experience. Meanwhile, a triangular cooperation between Greece, Israel and China may lead to new alliances and trade agreements that will put our country at the heart of innovation and provide new jobs.

Through synergies we can deepen our relationship with Israel on two very critical areas – culture and tourism. Israelis love Greece and prefer it as a tourist destination. To do this, however we need to understand their needs. One of the problems is kosher food. Thus, we plan to create a financing tool for Greek food businesses to integrate these products in their product line. Such a development would increase exponentially the number Jewish tourists in our country, and with the appropriate expertise we can make similar moves for halal products consumed by Muslim visitors. Finally, it is particularly important for us to highlight in Greece the places where we had thriving Jewish communities before the Holocaust. The rich tradition of Sefardi Jews in Thessaloniki and the Romaniote Jews in Ioannina, Chania and Athens must undergo a historical and symbolic restoration.

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