Jul 11, 2011

Greek President Visits Israel

David DolanBy David Dolan

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In another sign of growing political ties between Greece and Israel, Greek President Karolos Papoulias is currently in Israel on an official state visit. It is the first such visit by a Greek head of state. Papoulias holds a mostly ceremonial post, with the Prime Minister wielding the real political power in Greece. Nevertheless the official state visit is seen in Jerusalem as another important milestone in the erection of strong diplomatic ties between the two Mediterranean countries.

Israeli President Shimon Peres, right, and his Greek counterpart Karolos PapouliasMany decades ago, former Greek Prime Minister Andreas Papandreou set an anti-Israel tone in the country. The late long-ruling Premier was known for his fairly good relations with the Arab world and with the Soviet Union, which was closely allied with Egypt and Syria in those days. He ordered a Greek ship to sail to the coast of Lebanon to rescue Yasser Arafat from Israeli hands during the Lebanon War in 1983, delivering the late PLO leader safely to Tunisia. However Greek relations with Israel began to markedly improve several years ago after close Israeli links to the Muslim country of Turkey began to sour.

Related Links

PM Netanyahu Meets with Greek President Karolos Papoulias - Prime Minister's Office
Peres thanks Greek president for stopping flotilla - JTA
Knesset Hosts Greek President Papoulias - Arutz Sheva
Israel-Greece Ties Keeps Flotilla Anchored - Bloomberg
Greece ready to sign military accord with Israel - World Tribune