Papandreou Netanyahu 311.
(photo credit: Amos Ben Gershom)
The tension between Israel and Turkey resulted in the “sharpening of mutual
interests” between Israel and Greece, Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu told
reporters accompanying him on his way back from his two-day visit to Greece that
ended on Tuesday.
Netanyahu and his Greek counterpart, George Papandreou,
at a press conference on Monday, took pains to distance the visit to Greece from
Israel’s problems with Turkey. But Netanyahu spoke openly on the way back home
about the troubles with Turkey inspiring the development of Israel’s
relationship with Greece, which has feuded with Turkey for decades.
Netanyahu meets Greek PM in AthensOpinion: Tilting the Turkey-US-Israel triangle
whether he had plans to visit Turkey, Netanyahu revealed to a reporter from the
newspaper that he had never been there.
“I am the only
Israeli who has never been to Turkey in his life, and I don’t think I will be
going there soon,” he said.
Netanyahu’s visit to Athens came amid a
souring of Israeli- Turkish relations following the navy’s May 31 commando raid
on a Gaza Strip-bound protest flotilla that left nine Turkish activists dead.
The operation, conducted in international waters, led Turkey to recall its
ambassador from Israel and scale back military cooperation.
Greek teams will soon begin working on implementing the agreements Netanyahu
reached with Papandreou, including joint military exercises, military purchases,
upgrading ammunition, coordinating intelligence, and high-level strategic
sessions. To that end, Greek Defense Minister Evangelos Venizelos will visit
Greek and Israeli officials stressed that the agreements would not
be implemented at the expense of either country’s relationship with
Netanyahu, at the culmination of the visit, expressed
satisfaction about improving Israel’s ties with Greece.
“We are opening a
new chapter,” he told Israel Radio. “What is unnatural is that for 62 years we
didn’t do what we did now with George Papandreou coming to Jerusalem and me
reciprocating by coming to Athens.
We are fixing abnormalities that there
were for decades, in which two countries that can and want to cooperate on
security, tourism and diplomatic issues did not, and now we
are.”Bloomberg contributed to this report.