Samaras supports ties with Israel
by Costas Papachlimintzos
New Democracy leader Antonis Samaras on an official visit to Israel meets with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu (Eurokinisi) [Image]
New Democracy (ND) leader Antonis Samaras, who today began an official visit to Jerusalem, said that one of the few policies of ex-premier George Papandreou that his party supported was its strengthening of ties with Israel.Samaras arrived in Jerusalem early today for a two-day visit.
In an exclusive e-mail interview with the Jerusalem Post, an Israeli daily English-language newspaper, Samaras said his party would continue the pro-Israel policies of the Papandreou government.Papandreou, as The Jerusalem Post notes, "spearheaded a dramatic shift in Greece’s orientation towards Israel, moving Greece – in a period of about two years – from being one of Israel’s harshest critics in the EU, to one of its staunchest supporters".Samaras pointed out that when he served as foreign minister in 1990, he was the Greek official who signed the document officially recognizing Israel.“For decades, my party, New Democracy, has been supporting a more balanced approach towards the Middle East”, Samaras said.“Establishing stronger ties with Israel is one of the very few initiatives by the ex-prime minister that we, as an opposition party, full-heartedly supported.
As a matter of fact we encouraged him publicly in the parliament to do so. And when he did, we stood by him on the issue”.The president of ND said Israel and Greece have much in common, and “future historians will have a hard time explaining why we hesitated for so long to make the most out of our common interests.”Samaras underlined that Israel, Greece and Cyprus have “common interests in stability and growth” during a time of unprecedented economic crisis in Greece and amidst the debt crisis in Europe that is “currently reshaping the European Union” and the Arab Spring that is “redefining” North Africa and the Middle East.He said Greece and Cyprus can provide Israel with a “vital connection” to the West in general and to Europe in particular.