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"Speaking as someone who had not yet come to Israel when Macedonia became independent, I can say that, Macedonia is an example of how a country to free itself, in an honorable and non-violent manner, from the binds of the Soviet Union - where I was born," said Igal Yasinov, KKL-JNF Deputy Chairman, in honor of H.E. Nikola Gruevski, Prime Minister of the Republic of Macedonia. Yasinov was speaking at a ceremony during which the visiting prime minister planted an olive tree in the Grove of Nations in Jerusalem.
The Prime Minister of Macedonian, whose official title in his country is "President of the Government of Macedonia," arrived for his first official visit to Israel only two months after the visit of the President of Macedonia. Prime Minister Gruevski came to the traditional olive tree planting ceremony for heads of state following a meeting with President Shimon Peres at his official residence.
After unveiling the stone plaque bearing the PM's name, which took its place in the row of plaques amongst the names of other distinguished heads of states who have already planted olive trees in this unique forest, the entourage gathered for a brief but joyful ceremony, expertly emceed by KKL-JNF's Head of Protocol & VIP Ceremonies, Andy Michelson, in the tent especially erected against the rain.
KKL-JNF Deputy Chairman Igal Yasinov praised Macedonia's participation in the special international anti-terror unit and praised the warm friendship that Macedonia and its citizen have demonstrated towards Israel. "Planting an olive tree in the mountains of Jerusalem means that you, Mr. Prime Minister, are now a partner in building the State of Israel."
In reply, the Prime Minister thanked KKL-JNF. "I am very grateful to be amongst the heads of state that you have honored by planting a tree here. In Macedonia, we are used to planting trees and we have an annual 'Arbor day' and last year, on that day, the citizens of Macedonia planted 7.5 million trees in one day!"
The Israeli ambassador to Macedonia, David Cohen, read the Planter's Prayer in Hebrew and the Macedonian ambassador to Israel, Paio Avirovitz, who speaks fluent Hebrew, read the prayer in Macedonian. Afterwards, P.M. Gruevski was invited to plant an olive sapling tree next to the younger and older olives that are thriving in this unique, ceremonial grove which commands a view of Jerusalem and the surrounding villages.
The KKL-JNF Deputy Chairman presented the Prime Minister with a special certificate attesting to his tree-planting and discussed the similar activities of KKL-JNF in Israel and the Macedonian government. "We invite the Macedonian government to develop working ties with KKL-JNF, both in R&D and in all spheres in which our experts can cooperate in fruitful and effective ways," Yasinov concluded the intimate and happy gathering.
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