Israel's President Reuven Rivlin and Serbia's President Alexander Vucic in Belgrade, July 26, 2018.
(photo credit: AMOS BEN-GERSHOM/GPO)
President Reuven Rivlin became the first Israeli president to visit Serbia when he was hosted by the country’s President Aleksander Vucic on Thursday.
During his short visit, Rivlin made sure to commend Serbia for legislating the return of Jewish property that had been seized by the Nazis.
The Israeli president was greeted by an honor guard attired in period-style blue uniforms, as compared to the red-uniformed honor guard that greeted him in Croatia earlier in the week.
Rivlin told Vucic that he was greatly honored to be the first Israeli president to visit the country, even though the visit was only for a day.
Rivlin, who returned to Israel on Thursday night, was primarily in Serbia for the naming of a street in memory of Zionist visionary Theodor Herzl, whose parents had lived in the country and are buried there.
The naming of the street was in honor of the 70th anniversary of the State of Israel.
Drawing parallels between Serbia and Israel, which last year celebrated 25 years of diplomatic ties, Rivlin said that both still have to struggle to maintain their independence against forces that would like to put an end to their existence.
He said that he would be pleased to host Vucic in Jerusalem.
Rivlin noted the significant Israeli investments in Serbia and said that this was a sign of true partnership.
He added that he would like to see enhanced cooperation on more levels.
Relating to the Jews of Serbia, Rivlin commented that Serbia had been home to one of the oldest Jewish communities outside the land of Israel. Jews had already settled in Serbia in the days of the Roman Empire, he said.
Aware of the suffering of Serbian Jews during the Holocaust, Rivlin said that this is a chapter in history that must not be forgotten.
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