Greece, hoping that a new, multi-billion dollar economic-rescue plan will be approved by the EU and the International Monetary Fund, has found a surprising new advocate: Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu.
For the second day in a row, Netanyahu spoke out Thursday during a high-level diplomatic meeting on behalf of economic assistance to Greece. According to Netanyahu’s office, the Prime Minister, during his meeting with visiting French Foreign Minister Alain Juppe, called on the EU countries to help Greece in its necessary economic-recovery plan.
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Netanyahu, who has struck up a close relationship with Greek Prime Minister George Papandreou, whom he speaks to regularly, praised the Greek government’s handling of the economic crisis.
According to a statement issued from the PMO, Netanyahu expressed his confidence that the Greek people will recover from the current crisis, and that the Greek economy will again prosper.
Netanyahu articulated similar sentiments on Wednesday during a meeting he had with visiting Republican US Senator Mark Kirk from Illinois, and is using his reputation as a leader with a good grasp of economic matters to encourage Israel’s friends to be supportive of the Greek efforts.
The Prime Minister’s lobbying efforts on behalf of the Greek economy is the latest manifestation of the blooming of Israeli-Greek ties that has come in the wake of the deterioration of Israeli-Turkish relations.
Indeed, Papandreou, who has dramatically improved Athens’s policies
toward Israel, was the first Greek prime minister to visit Israel in 18
years last summer, and Netanyahu reciprocated three weeks later with the
first-ever visit to Greece by a sitting Israeli prime minister.
Israel is encouraging both Greece and Cyprus – the latter, another
country with whom ties have improved as a result of the dramatic deterioration of ties with Turkey – to act to prevent the launch of a flotilla of
ships from their ports later this month to the Gaza Strip.