Vladimir Putin held talks with Prime Minister of the State of Israel Benjamin Netanyahu, who arrived in Russia on a working visit.
* * *
President of Russia Vladimir Putin: Mr Prime Minister, colleagues, I would like to warmly welcome you to Russia.
In the beginning of our meeting, I would like to note that we maintain regular contact in almost every area. Last year we recorded a considerable, at least a substantial, growth in trade.
I will say upfront that it is largely due to your efforts that our relations have acquired a new quality in both security and military cooperation issues. We all know how important this is, especially considering the persisting threat from international terrorism.
I have just been to one of Russia’s republics in the North Caucasus, Daghestan. Twenty years ago it faced very dramatic events linked with the invasion of international terrorist groups. So in Russia, we know very well what terrorism is about, and people in Israel also have first-hand knowledge.
I know that you have just had a fairly detailed discussion with the top executives of the Defence Ministry and with Russia’s Defence Minister. We will now discuss everything that concerns this area.
And, of course, we are united by a common approach to the challenges of the past, those of World War II. The Jewish nation suffered probably more than any other with the exception of Russia – we lost 25 million. These are serious losses.
The President of Israel invited me to come to Israel at the beginning of next year in connection with these events, the anniversary of the liberation of Auschwitz and Holocaust Remembrance Day. Please tell Mr President that I will come to Israel with great pleasure. If possible, we can also unveil a memorial for the victims of the siege of Leningrad that you told me about when you also invited me to this event.
Mr Prime Minister, I know that your country is on the eve of major domestic political events, the elections to Knesset on September 17, I believe. It is common knowledge that over 1.5 million former Soviet citizens live in Israel. We have always considered them our people, our compatriots. Naturally, we are not indifferent as regards future Israeli MPs, let me be straight about this. We are hoping they will be responsible politicians that will certainly maintain all recent achievements in bilateral relations and will move forward with us in developing Russian-Israeli ties.
Prime Minister of Israel Benjamin Netanyahu (retranslated): Thank you very much, Mr President.
I am happy to meet with you again. Relations between Russia and Israel have never been stronger. This is only natural since, as you rightly noted, there are over a million Russian-speaking Israelis and they are a natural living bridge between our countries.
I would like to thank you once again for what you have done for them. I am referring to our pension agreement and the special executive order on veterans that you signed. This is important for our relations, and we worked on this together.
Vladimir Putin: I remember the attitude you have always had towards this. In this sense, we have absolutely identical positions.
Benjamin Netanyahu: But I think the growing strength of our relations is also the result of two additional factors. First, we both conduct a very balanced policy. And we have personal connections.
Our personal links have allowed us to avoid unnecessary tensions and even clashes between our militaries, and I can say with responsibility that this is a very important element for the stability of the entire region.
I appreciate your words that you respect the security of the State of Israel. This fact is revealed in all of our meetings, and I saw this again at our meeting with Defence Minister Sergei Shoigu.
Coordination between our militaries is always very important. It is always important, but especially important now, because in the past month we have seen a sharp increase in Iran’s attempts to use the territory of Syria to attack us and to deploy missiles that threaten us. We are not prepared to simply take this threat, and so we have to act. In this situation, our dialogue is even more important. And I believe that we will discuss this at our meeting as well.
If I am correct, this is our thirteenth meeting in the last few years, and at these meetings we have managed to make progress on many important issues in areas like security, the economy, tourism and agriculture, to name a few.
But there is also an additional foundation. I am referring not only to current ties but also to the historical links in our relations.
I will be very pleased to see you in our country in January. We will celebrate the 75th anniversary of the liberation of theAuschwitz concentration camp and at the same time, we plan to unveil a monument to the heroes of the Siege of Leningrad. We will never forget the enormous contribution of the Russian people and the Russian Army to the victory over Nazi Germany. I always emphasise this at every opportunity and in every place. This is only fair, it is the truth.
Thank you very much, Mr President.