PM Benjamin Netanyahu Meets with Luxembourg PM Xavier Bettel
(Communicated by the Prime Minister's Media Adviser)
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, today (Monday 12 September 2016), in his office, met with Luxembourg Prime Minister Xavier Bettel; this is the first visit by a Prime Minister of Luxembourg to Israel. The meeting was very good and was held in a warm and friendly atmosphere. Luxembourg Prime Minister Bettel invited Prime Minister Netanyahu to visit his country. Topics discussed at the meeting included bilateral economic relations and ways to deepen them as well as various regional issues.
Prime Minister Netanyahu:
"This is your first visit, the first in Israel and I hope it's not the last. You invited me to Luxembourg. I've already visited Luxembourg once and I intend to do it again.
You come obviously at a time of great turmoil in the Middle East, the world looks with horror as hundreds of thousands are slaughtered in Syria and millions stream to Europe, fleeing for their lives. We spoke about that at some length but I think this is a time of great opportunity as well. And that gives me a great deal of hope. Israel's partnerships and alliances around the world and in the region are growing broader and deeper. We stand together with many countries to defend civilization against the forces of militant Islamic barbarism and we stand together in the face of resurgent anti-Semitism. I expressed my appreciation for the forthright positon that you took in Luxembourg regarding the events there during the Second World War and your apology to the Jewish community was deeply appreciated.
We also spoke about the future. We stand together to innovate and seize the future. Innovation is the key to economic growth, to turn the promise of tomorrow's technologies to better the lives of our peoples and I think for the peoples around the world. Israel and Luxembourg are two small countries but we've shown that two small countries can be, we shouldn't be judged by our size, we can do a lot of great things and we are doing them. And I think our small countries possess great strength and together we'll be stronger.
We had very fruitful discussions. I believe in this partnership and I look forward to continuing this discussion with you in Luxembourg or any other place. So, come back again and welcome."
Prime Minister Netanyahu added:
"Prime Minister Bettel invited me to Luxembourg but he also said maybe the Palestinians will come there. Well, it's either Moscow or Luxembourg. We'll see, one of them or anywhere else. We're always prepared to have direct negotiations without preconditions."
Luxembourg Prime Minister Bettel:
"I'm very glad to be here in Israel today with my delegation. It's the first time a Luxembourgish Prime Minister is visiting your country and I'm very happy to hear also that the position of my Government, 70 years later, to apologize to the Jewish community by saying that we were not all heroes in my country, was deeply appreciated. For me it was important to do that step because it's never too late to recognize errors but the biggest error is not to recognize errors. So I'm happy that we did it.
We are friends, Luxembourg and Israel, and our bilateral relations are excellent on the political level but also on the business level and we have a big economic delegation that is also now discussing with its counterparts here in Israel.
We are both innovative economies, based on innovative economies. We are smart countries, as I like to call also Luxembourg. This reason why besides the political purpose of the visit we had also meetings to strength also the economic relations between both countries. Just give you an example: For example, Luxembourg and Israel trade has nearly doubled from 2014 to 2015. There is still a large potential but I'm also happy that we opened, in 2010, a Trade and Investment Office here in Israel.
After this meeting I will go now to the Hebrew University of Jerusalem to sign an agreement between universities to strengthen cooperation on the academic and student levels.
We discussed also about the situation we have now in the world. It is, for us as Luxembourg, as I told you Prime Minister, important that we respect each other, that we are able to find solutions. We want, I know that we offered also the opportunity to speak together which is the most important thing for us - to be able to have dialogue. I will visit, continue my visit tomorrow and for me to bring people together, to speak together, to find solutions together is the most important thing.
Young people in Europe should know that we live in peace since the Treaty of Rome was signed in 1957, and that peace is not taken for granted. And we should work together to respect it because this is the most important thing - to preserve peace which is for me as a political leader my biggest aim and goal - to respect, to listen, to understand and to work together. So I'm very happy about the discussion we had today and I'm very confident for the future discussions we will have together in this hope because we have common goals. It's the best for all of us."