(photo credit: KKL)
"It is an honor, joy and a pleasure for me to be in Israel." The Prime Minister of Croatia, the Honorable Jadranka Kosor, was speaking on Wednesday, March 30, at KKL-JNF’s Forest Grove of the Nations tree-planting site in Jerusalem, where the prime minister planted a carob tree. Upon arrival at the site, which is located on Mount Herzl, just below Yad Vashem, Prime Minister Kosor unveiled a plaque marking the special occasion. The prime minister was accompanied by the Croatian ambassador to Israel, Ms. Marica Matkoviv, and the Israeli ambassador to Croatia, Mr. Yosef Amrani.
Prime Minister Kosor was greeted by Ms. Barbara Goldstein, a member of KKL-JNF's Board of Directors: "On behalf of KKL-JNF, I greet you in the name of Israel and the Jewish people. You come from a very green country, while we live on the edge of the desert. To help make our country greener, KKL-JNF has planted over 240,000,000 trees in Israel since its inception.
"When you plant a tree, you are doing it for this generation and for generations to come. Just as the seedling you are setting in the ground will grow, we hope to see the relations between our two countries develop."
Prime Minister Kosor responded by thanking KKL-JNF for this opportunity: "It is very special to plant a tree, because it is an act on behalf of the future. I plant it with great joy, because it is symbolic of the growing relations between Israel and Croatia. We will remember this day, and we invite you to visit us in Croatia. Until we meet again, may this tree and all the trees grow, and may this tree be a sign of the friendly ties between our two countries."
Ms. Goldstein read the Planters Prayer and presented the Prime Minister with a certificate commemorating the event.
Mr. Michael Ben Abu, director of KKL-JNF Israel fundraising department, emceed the ceremony and noted that besides being a politician, the Prime Minister was also a writer, journalist and poet. "Our sages have taught us that if you are in the middle of planting a tree and hear that the messiah has arrived, you must first complete planting the tree and only then go to greet him. You will be planting a carob tree, which takes seventy years until it begins to give fruit, so we will all have to live long in order to be able to fully appreciate the tree you have planted here today."
The Grove of the Nations is home to many trees that were planted by heads of state from all over the world. It is an integral part of the "Olive Tree Route” project in Israel, which is part of UNESCO and the Council of Europe’s initiative to establish an “Olive Tree Route” around the entire Mediterranean basin.
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