'Israel should follow Czech example of two-state solution'

Peres and visiting Czech Foreign Minister Jan Kohut strengthen ties between Jerusalem and Prague.

May 6, 2010 05:20
3 minute read.
President Peres talks with Marios Garoyian, presid

peres w/ cypriot official 311. (photo credit: Yossef Avi Yair Engel/Beit Hanassi)


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In adopting the two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, Israel should follow the example set by the Czech Republic President Shimon Peres told Czech Foreign Minister Jan Kohut on Wednesday.

“We are following in your footsteps as far as a two-state solution of dividing one land is concerned,” Peres told his guest, referring to the amicable division of the former Czechoslovakia.

“The Czech Republic is an encouraging example of two states being good neighbors,” he said.

Kohut, who arrived in Israel with a delegation of academics, businesspeople and journalists, said that part of his visit was within the framework of the 20th anniversary of the re-establishment of diplomatic relations between Czechoslovakia and Israel.

“For us, Czechoslovakia is a piece of history, not just a country,” replied Peres, recalling that Israel’s first pilots had been trained there in 1948, and that Czechoslovakia had defied the arms embargo imposed by other countries and supplied Israel with arms and military equipment.

Both Peres and Kohut commented on the very positive relationship between Israel and the Czech Republic, with Peres saying that Kohut’s visit could help to expand that relationship.

Recalling what a poor country Czechoslovakia had been at the renewal of relations in comparison to the success it has become, Peres termed the Czech Republic a “model country” and “an island of stability” in Europe.

Kohut said that he was happy that peace talks between Israel and the Palestinians were being renewed, and hoped that such talks would yield tangible results. The Czech Republic, he added, would be happy to support a peace settlement in the region, and as a member country of the European Union would be glad to contribute to the talks with the aim of bringing peace, stability, progress and security to the region.

Similar sentiments were expressed to Peres later in the day, when he met with Marios Garoyian, the president of the House of Representatives of the Republic of Cyprus, who is on a two-day visit to Israel as the guest of Knesset speaker Reuven Rivlin.

Garoyian told The Jerusalem Post that this was by way of a historic visit, the first of its kind in 16 years.

He thanked Peres for Israel’s consistent support at the United Nations and other international forums in matters of conflict between Greek and Turkish Cypriots. But when asked by the Post what Cyprus was doing for Israel, he acknowledged that there were “divergences” on many issues. Nonetheless, he said, through dialogue and more frequent discussions, any problems existing between Cyprus and Israel could be overcome.

Moreover, he said, Cyprus was interested in peace in the region, and as a member of the EU could use its voice to advance the peace process and help stabilize it once it got underway.

Peres was all for enhancing relations and said that only 35 minutes (of flight) separate Cyprus from Israel. “This is the shortest distance for foreign relations, and the best potential for the future,” he said.

Cyprus was colonized by the British and many Holocaust survivors who were denied entry to Eretz Israel by the British were sent to Cyprus, where they were detained in camps. Partially because of their common antipathy to the British at the time, the Cypriots were very kind to the Jews. Several Israelis today in their 60s and 70s were interned in Cyprus as children, and some were even born in the camps.

One of those who was interned as a child happens to be a member of Peres’s staff, and quite by chance got to share her story with Cypriot diplomat Michalis Firillas, who is a member of Garoyian’s delegation.

In another matter related to WWII, Peres will join in Russian commemorations of the end of the war when he flies to Moscow on Saturday night to participate in celebrating the 65th anniversary of the defeat of the Nazis by the Red Army. He will be the guest of President Dmitry Medvedev, whom he will congratulate in the name of Israel and the Jewish people for the Red Army’s victory, without which many more Jews would have been murdered; and he will watch the impressive military parade in Red Square, where the key ceremonies of the Red Army’s triumph will be held.

While in Russia, Peres will receive an honorary doctorate from the Moscow State Institute of International Relations at MGIMO University, and will use the opportunity to address the Russian people. He is due to return to Israel on Tuesday in time for Jerusalem Day celebrations.

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