Peres thanks Russian minister for fire help

“This is an act of courage and friendship that we will never forget,” says president to Russian firefighters and rescue operators.

December 7, 2010 03:20
2 minute read.
PRESIDENT SHIMON Peres thanks Russian Deputy Civil

Peres Plat 311. (photo credit: Moshe Milner/GPO)

President Shimon Peres on Monday expressed his own and the nation’s appreciation to Russian Deputy Civil Defense, Emergency and Disaster Relief Minister Pavel Plat and his large delegation that came to battle the Mount Carmel fires.

The group was given a red carpet welcome.

Russian flags were mounted in the courtyard and reception areas of Beit Hanassi and sprigs of rosebuds in Russia’s national colors that had been laid out on trays were pinned to the uniforms of each member of the Russian team.

Peres walked around the room and shook the hand of each and then welcomed them in Russian before switching to Hebrew.

“We thank you from the depths of our hearts,” he said, commending the bravery of the firefighters and rescue operators. “This is an act of courage and friendship that we will never forget.”

The Russian team had demonstrated to the whole world, that notwithstanding differences in attitude and outlook, disaster brings out the best in people and prompts nations to cooperate with each other, Peres said.

Russian courage is well known in Israel, he said, because so many Israelis are of Russian background, and still carry Russia in their hearts.

He recalled having been in Russia last spring for the 65th anniversary of the defeat of the Nazis by the Red Army, and watching aged veterans marching courageously and with pride.

Peres lamented the fact that it takes a catastrophe to bring nations together, but added that such tragedies may sometimes lead to peace.

In this context he stated how touched Israel had been to receive an offer of help from the Palestinian Authority.

The offer could be interpreted as a step towards peace, he said.

Peres asked Plat to convey Israel’s thanks to President Dmitry Medvedev and to Prime Minister Vladimir Putin.

Medvedev, who is due to visit Israel early in 2011, sent a message of condolence to Peres over the weekend.

Peres said that the swift Russian response to Israel’s needs would definitely enhance relations between the two countries.

The motto of his ministry, said Plat, is Prevention, Rescue and Help.

“That’s what we try to do in circumstances of the kind that brought us to Israel. We came to do whatever possible to put out the fires.”

Plat was full of praise for the cooperation that his team had received from the IDF, from Israeli firefighters and rescue operators and from municipal services that maintained constant contact and ensured that all the Russian needs were met.

“We are happy that in this joint effort, we were able to overwhelm this disaster,” he said. “We put a great deal of effort into what we did, but we would not have been nearly as effective without the efficient and rapid services that were provided for us by the Israelis.”

Plat was also appreciative of the cooperation of government ministers from Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu downwards.

“Everyone helped us to carry out our mission,” he said.

He hoped that the Russian firefighting tactics and technology that his team had shared with their Israeli counterparts would prove useful in the future, and that what his team had done would contribute to the friendship between the two countries.

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