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President Rivlin receives diplomatic credentials of new Ambassador of Turkey to Israel Photo by Mark Neiman (GPO)
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President Rivlin receives diplomatic credentials of new Ambassador of Turkey to Israel

12 December 2016

President Rivlin receives diplomatic credentials of new Ambassador of Turkey to Israel

(Communicated by the President's Spokesperson)

 

President Reuven Rivlin this morning (Monday) at a ceremony at his residence in Jerusalem, received the diplomatic credentials of the new Ambassador of Turkey to Israel, H.E. Mr. Mekin Mustafa Kemal Okem, the first Turkish Ambassador to Israel for more than six years.

 

President Rivlin began by saying, "I want to start, by expressing my deep condolences to the Turkish people, to the victims of the terror attack in Istanbul, and to the families who have lost their loved ones. Mr. Ambassador, all life is sacred. Terror is terror is terror -whether in Brussels or Paris, Istanbul, Jerusalem, or Cairo. We have a duty to stand together against this terrible threat. "

 

He continued, "Mr. Ambassador, today is an honor, and a real moment in history. I want to express my appreciation for President Erdogan, and I thank him again for Turkey’s help in fighting the fires across Israel last month. Our friendship goes back in history, and I hope that the reconciliation and the appointment of new ambassadors will open a new and promising page in this relationship. We must work together to promote our economic relations, trade and energy cooperation, as a real engine of growth for our friendship."

 

The President stressed, "Mr. Ambassador, as you know the Middle East is changing. We must find the way to give strength to the voices of peace and stability. We must strengthen our common ground. When I spoke to President Erdogan, we spoke about the situation in Gaza. I want to thank him for his commitment to help return the Israelis and the bodies of our soldiers held by Hamas. Israel like Turkey places great importance in rebuilding the lives of the civilians in Gaza; in infrastructure, economy, energy, water, and more. This must be with the cooperation of the Palestinian Authority. It is also an important way to show that we can live together in this region."

 

He concluded, "Israel and Turkey share a desire for peace and prosperity for all the peoples of the Middle East, and it is an honor and privilege to welcome you, as Ambassador of Turkey, here in Israel, welcome."

 

Ambassador Okem thanked the President and said, "I have just had the honour to present my credentials to the President of the State of Israel, His Excellency Reuven Rivlin. It is an honour for me to officially begin my tenure as Turkish Ambassador to the State of Israel as of today, and I would like to thank you for the warm welcome shown to me and my family.

 

He added, "Indeed, Mr. President this is a new beginning in our bilateral relations and in our joint efforts, in this region in which we have close ties, historical ties. Our region has more than its share of challenges but also of big opportunities. As before, Turkey and Israel will work together to make sure that these opportunities are fully utilized and challenges are met."

 

He concluded, "As per instructions of my president, His Excellency President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, and my Prime Minister, His Excellency Binali Yıldırım, I will explore all opportunities for cooperation in every field to the mutual benefit of our two nations. And, as an ambassador, I will do my best to enhance our relations in every field - regardless of any difficulties that we may face, we will be able to overcome together with our partners and friends Israel. So I am looking forward to closely working with all of the institutions in this country and do my best to cooperate with them. As you have just said Mr President, our hope is that this cooperation will also work for the benefit of other nations, particularly to the Palestinian Authority as well."

 

During their meeting, President Rivlin once again reaffirmed his wish to convey Israel's hope that the renewal in relations between Israel and Turkey would lead to the freeing of the Israeli citizens held captive in Gaza, and to the return of the bodies of the fallen Israeli soldiers Oron Shaul and Hadar Goldin being held by Hamas, so they could be brought for proper burial in Israel.