Peres begins 3-day state visit to Greece

Trip will symbolize the closing of a circle after his father found refuge in a Greek monastery 70 years ago.

Shimon Peres 370 (photo credit: Kobi Gideon/GPO)
Shimon Peres 370
(photo credit: Kobi Gideon/GPO)
A three-day state visit to Greece will symbolize the closing of a circle for President Shimon Peres. Nearly 70 years ago, the president’s father, Yitzhak Persky – then a soldier in the British Army – found refuge from the Germans in a Greek monastery, spending a year in hiding before he was finally caught and sent to a Nazi prison camp near Auschwitz.
Peres arrives in Greece on Monday – at the invitation of Greek President Karolos Papoulias, who will be hosting a state dinner in honor of his guest.
Over the past two years, there has been a significant improvement in relations between Greece and Israel and both countries are keen that this should continue. The new Greek government headed by Prime Minister Antonis Samaras is eager to strengthen its strategic relationship with Israel and to broaden the scope of bilateral cooperation, specifically in the fields of politics, security and economics. Among the dignitaries whom Peres is scheduled to meet are the Speaker of Parliament Evangelos Meimarakis and the heads of various political parties.
Guests at the state dinner will include leading figures in the government and prominent business people who have dealings with Israeli companies. In addition, Peres is scheduled for a working meeting with leaders of the Greek business community.
He will also use the visit to discuss the dramatic changes taking place in the Middle East. Peres is to speak of the need for the free world to unite in the action against the nuclear threat posed by Iran, as well as Tehran’s support of terrorist organizations.
He is also to meet with the local Jewish community.
Peres will also use the opportunity to thank the Greek people for the compassion and many kindnesses from which his father benefitted.
He is scheduled to return to Israel on Thursday.