peres sanchez 248.88 GPO.
(photo credit: GPO)
It was entirely appropriate that Costa Rican President Oscar Arias Sanchez call on President Shimon Peres on Sunday, the date being November 29, the 62nd anniversary of the fateful UN Resolution 181 on the partition of Palestine.
Costa Rica was one of the 33 countries that voted "yes" in 1947, and less than a year later, in 1948, was among the first countries to recognize the nascent State of Israel.
Until 2006, it was one of only two countries, along with El Salvador, that maintained an embassy in Jerusalem, but both eventually yielded to political pressures and joined the other countries that maintain embassies on the coastal plain.
This has been a milestone year for Costa Rica, which is celebrating the 120th anniversary of its first free elections and the 60th anniversary of its decision to permanently abolish its army.
Costa Rica is reputed to be one of the most democratic countries in Latin America, with a strong commitment to education and the environment. In 2007, the Costa Rican government announced its intention to be a carbon neutral country by 2021. Costa Rica is already a global leader in green energy.
Peres is an ardent advocate for green energy; thus, the two presidents had much to discuss, not only in terms of history but also the future.
Both have also authored several books and both are Nobel Peace Prize laureates.
Sanchez was awarded the Nobel Prize in 1987 in recognition of his work for peace in Central America. His efforts led to the signing in Guatemala in August 1987 of a peace accord of which he was the main architect. The Nobel Prize committee praised his outstanding contribution towards the return of stability and peace in a region long torn by strife and civil war.
Peres, together with Yitzhak Rabin and Yasser Arafat was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 1994 in recognition of concluding and following up the Oslo Accords.
In greeting Sanchez at a luncheon he hosted in his honor, Peres described him as "a personal friend and a man of peace."
Peres commended Costa Rica for having an educational focus rather than a military force, saying: "The future does not depend on soldiers but on teachers."
Peres also lauded Costa Rica for being ahead of the rest of the world in foreseeing the need for liberation from pollution.
In what could arguably be termed the most poetic address ever delivered at Beit Hanassi, Sanchez said that it was with great joy that he found himself once more in the Holy Land "by the side of my treasured friend Shimon Peres."
Their paths had crossed many times said Sanchez and their "steps march to the same rhythm to the strong and steady beat of peace that will not be ignored even in troubled times... to the beat of a distant drum."
Quoting from the speech that Peres had made when he received his own Nobel Prize, Sanchez spoke of the visions of peace of a dreamer in the hills of the Galilee, who had said in Stockholm: "Not all of it came true, but not all of it went to waste. The part that came true created a new landscape. The part that did not come true resides in our hearts."
Turning to Peres, Sanchez said: "The vision of peace resides not only in your heart but in the hearts of many others - in the hearts of Costa Rica and all the friends of Israel. - in the hearts of all those who seek a solution to violent conflicts on this planet."
Sanchez launched into his own vision, which was almost biblical in content of a day when people of all faiths and nations will gather in Jerusalem, "where love began and war ended....where people live in harmony and freedom."