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Israel, Greece sign aviation pact, first treaty in 60 years

22 Οκτωβρίου 2010

Israel, Greece sign aviation pact, first treaty in 60 years

Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman and his visiting Greek counterpart, Dimitris Droutsas, signed an aviation treaty yesterday, amid signs of strengthening ties between Jerusalem and Athens. This was the first treaty to be signed between the two nations since 1952, a Foreign Ministry statement said. The deal paves the way for, among other things, two carriers to service each side for each destination instead of just one.

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he agreement, Droutsas told reporters in Jerusalem, was further proof of how the rapprochement between the two countries is being translated into practical terms. Israeli and Greek media have been noting an increase in cooperation between the two countries after a long period of cooler ties marked by fierce Greek criticism of Israel’s policies.

Prime Minister George Papandreou is moving closer to Israel partly because Israel is moving away from its past strong ally Turkey, one commentator said. Israeli-Greek cooperation has reportedly increased in several fields, including the military and tourism.

Droutsas told the press that the number of Israeli tourists, many of whom now shun popular Turkish tourist destinations such as Antalya, who visited Greece in 2010 had reached 250,000 in October, compared to 155,000 in all of 2009.

Asked whether Turkey should be concerned about the improved ties, Droutsas replied, “Our cooperation is not directed against any country. To the contrary. One of the main parameters of our cooperation is to strengthen security and stability for the entire region. For Greece, the Middle East is a vital interest.”