PM Netanyahu Attends Visegrad Group Summit
(Communicated by the Prime minister's Media Adviser)
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, today (Wednesday, 19 July 2017), attended a summit with heads of government of the Visegard Group member states (Hungary, Poland, the Czech Republic and Slovakia), and offered to host next year's summit in Jerusalem.
Prime Minister Netanyahu:
"Thank you, Prime Minister Orbán.
I want to summarize briefly this meeting.
First, I’m honored to be the first Israeli Prime Minister to be invited to a Visegrad Summit, and I want to thank the prime ministers of Hungary, of Poland, the Czech Republic and Slovakia for this great honor, which I think is also of importance.
I believe that we stand together as five democracies that are facing great opportunities and great challenge. The great challenge that faces all of us is the threat posed by the rise of militant Islam and the sparks of terror that it sends flying throughout the Middle East and sweeping into Europe, Africa and elsewhere – Asia. Israel serves a unique function at being the one Western country in the region, the one country that is able to limit and fight from the region, within the region, this great danger to all of us. And I suggested that we have, as Prime Minister Orbán said, a working group on how to work together to cooperate in this battle against terrorism, the spread of militant Islamic terrorism to the world. I believe that we can do a lot more together than separately.
The second challenge is to seize the promise of the future. The future belongs to those who innovate. The countries that innovate will be able to improve the income of their people and to give, to justify the price that we expect for products and services by adding value. Technology is key and technology is revolutionizing every single industry – water, agriculture, energy, transportation, health – every single activity. Communications, obviously. So we are an innovation nation. We have thousands and thousands of startups, and we seek to have this cooperation with you, the Visegrad Group, and with Europe.
And I believe that it’s in the interest of Europe, the objective interest of Europe, to cooperate with Israel in these two areas: the fight against terrorism, and technology for the future. One is fighting the forces of the past; the other is securing a better, more prosperous future for our peoples.
In this regard, I also express my appreciation for the positions taken by the Visegrad countries on several occasions for representing this position about Israel to the countries of Europe. There is an anomaly. I don’t hide it. We are often criticized by Europe, often more than any other place – by Western Europe – often by more than any other place in the world.
Israel is the one democracy in the Middle East. Israel is the one beacon of tolerance in a very wide area. Israel is the one place where Christians are safe, and the Christian community in Israel not only survives, but thrives and grows. Israel is a bastion of European and Western values in the heart of a very, very dark area.
This is understood today, not only as serving our interest and I believe your interest, I believe that many of the Arab countries understand that Israel serves their interest. So it’s time to have a reassessment in Europe about the relations with Israel. We have much to offer each other. We have much to offer in the realm of security, much to offer in the realm of technology. This is not only good for us, but I believe good for you.
In this regard, I am very happy that the Visegrad Group has decided to accept my invitation to have the next meeting in Israel, and so I end my statement by saying what the Jewish people have been saying for thousands of years: Next year in Jerusalem."
Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban:
"As a summary, I wish to reiterate three items. First, once again, we should reiterate our acknowledgement towards Israel for what it does for the security of Europe. In the future, we shall promote that the cooperation between the European Union and Israel become better. And the third statement is that if Europe does not cooperate with Israel, it is punishing itself, which is pointless. And therefore, we shall propose in the upcoming period that the Israeli-EU cooperation should return to the field of common sense. And once again, I’d like to kindly thank Mr. Benjamin Netanyahu for honoring central and eastern Europe and honoring us with his visit."