Ukrainian PM touts tourism ties in meeting with Peres

Since Israel and Ukraine signed a bilateral agreement last year for the cancellation of entry visas, there has been a 20- per cent rise in tourism between the two countries, Ukrainian Prime Minister Mykola Azarov told President Shimon Peres Wednesday at the David Citadel hotel Jerusalem.
He looked forward to the signing of further agreements, he said, in particular a Free Trade Zone agreement, which he hoped would be signed by representatives of the governments of both countries when Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych visits Israel in December. Such an agreement would be extremely beneficial to both countries, enthused Azarov, who was already envisaging a substantial growth in two-way exports, “because there is no area in which Israel and Ukraine are in competition with each other.”
Peres spoke warmly of his visit to Ukraine last November, and of his impression that its vast expanse of land could contribute much to relieve the world food shortage.
He told Azarov that only two weeks ago, he had visited Moshav Ahituv near Hadera, which when it was first founded, 60 years ago, yielded onethird of a ton of crops per dunam. A few years later, the yield had grown to three tons per dunam, and now it is 30 tons per dunam.
“They keep increasing their yield without increasing their territory,” said Peres, emphasizing the importance of agrotechnology, which enables such miracles to happen. “If you visit them, you’ll want to take the whole moshav back to Ukraine,” he said.
In more serious vein, Peres said that Israel, with its scientific and technological advancements in agriculture, could do a lot to help Ukraine develop and multiply its agricultural output, and in this way help to alleviate world hunger.
“The alternative to hunger is war and terror,” said Peres, who urged Azarov to act quickly.
Peres also offered Israel’s assistance in all health-related matters in which Israel may be more advanced than Ukraine.
He commended Ukraine for its decision last year to give up its highly enriched uranium, which he said was “a gift to the world.” This was a particularly important decision in view of the fact that Ukraine receives nearly half of its energy supply from nuclear power.
In addition to discussing bilateral relations and revolutionary trends in the Middle East, the two leaders spoke about the catastrophe which has befallen Japan. Peres said the enormous tragedy, brought on by the forces of nature, affects not only Japan but the whole world.
Azarov concurred, but predicted that after the global economic crisis and the tragedy in Japan there was more in store for the world in terms of crises.
He did not say what these might be.