Peres at Tel Nof.
(photo credit: Moshe Milner/GPO)
The deaths in the crash of an Israel Air Force helicopter in Romania last month
will override the usual pomp and ceremony that accompanies a state visit when
President Shimon Peres arrives in Romania on Wednesday night.
airmen and a Romanian officer who were participating in a joint exercise were
killed when their Yasour helicopter flew into a cliff in thick fog in the
Carpathian mountains near Brasov on July 26.
OC Israel Air Force Maj.-
Gen. Ido Nehushtan and his Romanian counterpart, Maj.-Gen. Ion-Aurel Stanciu,
mounted a joint inquiry into the event and Israeli and Romanian search and
rescue teams worked together to find and identify the bodies.
and 10 IAF officers, who are Yasour pilots, will accompany Peres and participate
in a memorial service on Thursday afternoon in the main synagogue of Bucharest
together with representatives of the Romanian Jewish community and senior
members of the Romanian government.
Seven memorial candles will be lit –
one for each of the victims of the tragedy.
Three days after the crash,
Peres spoke to Romanian President Traian Basescu to thank him on behalf of the
State of Israel for the warmth and sensitivity that he, the Romanian Air Force
and everyone involved in the search for the bodies had shown. Peres also
expressed condolences on the death of the Romanian pilot.
again express appreciation when he and Basescu meet on Thursday
Basescu paid a state visit to Israel in June 2009, after
meetings with various Arab leaders. At that time he told Peres that Syria was
definitely interested in resuming negotiations with Israel and did not want to
be associated with the Iranian image.
Basescu said that Romania was
interested in a just and sustainable peace in the Middle East, and with the aim
of making a contribution, was meeting with leaders in the region and studying
On July 12 of this year, Basescu met in Bucharest with
Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas and told him that Romania supports
the resumption of direct talks between the Palestinians and Israel.
anticipated that he will reiterate this statement at his meeting with Peres, and
that it will be reinforced by Prime Minister Emil Boc.
Romania, Peres will fly to Bulgaria on a lightning visit, arriving during
mid-morning and leaving for Romania in the early evening.
Bulgaria, Peres will receive that country’s highest decoration, the Stara
Planina, from Bulgarian President Georgi Parvanov.
The medal is in
recognition of Peres’s contribution to bilateral and international
Peres will also have a working meeting with Prime Minister
Boyko Borisov and address 300 members of the Bulgarian Jewish community in the
synagogue in Sofia.
In Romania, in addition to the memorial service for
the fallen airmen, Peres will on Friday participate in a memorial service at the
city’s new monument for Romanian Jewish victims of the Holocaust.
World War II, there were around 800,000 Jews in Romania. After the war,
remained. Most of them chose to leave and many made their homes in
there are 9,500 Jews in Romania, and approximately 6,500 in Bulgaria.
visits to Bulgaria and Romania are part of an ongoing project to
with the countries of Central and Eastern Europe, especially those that
members of NATO and/or the European Union.
Peres was in Slovenia and
Croatia in July, and is scheduled to visit Ukraine in September.