* * *
President of Israel Shimon Peres (retranslated): Mr President, members of the delegation,
I do not know how you have this much energy. The amount of work you did today is truly superhuman. I will speak very briefly and say just a few words, so as not to overtire you.
I am very glad to welcome you here, to the residence of the President of Israel. The world is transforming from its old form to a newer version, so we cannot allow this transitional period to somehow put our future in question. Your visit has great significance for all the citizens of Israel since we see you as a leader whose input is very important and significant in the development of the entire world.
Russia and Israel share a common history. Your people took in ours when we were dispersed, and our people feel a deep gratitude to your people for saving us from the hands of Hitler’s executioners, gratitude toward the Soviet Army which was the first to liberate the concentration camps and put an end to those horrors.
I am certain that under your leadership, Russia will play a very important role in light of the challenges and threats affecting the world today. I know, Mr President, that Russia does not agree with Iran having a nuclear arsenal; you stated this quite clearly. And it is very important that Iran’s efforts to acquire nuclear weapons be cut off. Nuclear weapons in the hands of Iran are a threat to Iran’s neighbours and the entire world.
And now, I would like to address you with a personal issue. Iran’s current leadership openly states its intention to erase Israel from the face of the earth. We cannot permit or allow nuclear arms ending up in the hands of a regime that openly threatens to annihilate us. I turn to you personally on this matter, because you know how seminal the current situation is for us. We are certain that your voice on the subject will be heard.
Russia has shown initiative and on your initiative hosted the latest round of talks on the issue of Iran in Moscow. Russia has worked to maintain the unity of the international community even in spite of disagreements.
In parallel with our uncompromising war against terror, Israel holds out a hand of peace. For us, peace is an important moral value, and at the same time, a strategic value. Russia participated in designing and elaborating a solution to this conflict within the framework of the Quartet. Certainly, an overwhelming majority of the people in Israel are in favour of the two-state solution. Both sides must renew talks and turn the political agreement into reality.
Russia can play a very important role in this process. You personally, Mr President, can also play a role in this process. We are grateful to you for your efforts to finally bring about a new, peaceful reality in the Middle East.
(In Russian) Thank you.
President of Russia Vladimir Putin: Mr President, first of all, thank you very much for your invitation.
I would like to also thank you for today’s ceremony, for the opening of the monument in memory of the Soviet soldiers who died during World War II.
We fought Nazism together – I want to emphasise that we really fought together. This means that we have common humanitarian values – this is the sturdiest foundation for cooperation.
Israel is in a special region of the world – the well-being of the entire international community depends largely on its well-being.
This is not the first time we are meeting and I remember all our previous conversations. You are certainly a part of the highly respected generation of absolutely world-class, global-level politicians.
You are right, the situation in the world and in the region changes very quickly so in these changing circumstances, we must find ways for all the nations of the region, and the world overall, to cooperate, which will allow everyone to live in peace and tranquility, create conditions that will encourage development.
Indeed, there are over a million, almost a million and a half emigrants from the former Soviet Union residing in Israel. And it is no accident that we have a visa-free regime: there is mutual interest in such visa-free travel. It means that people are drawn to one another – they are drawn to their roots.
You said that Russia once provided the opportunity for a part of the Jewish people to live in our country. We do not quite see it that way and believe they are a part of our own people. I want to tell you that these doors are open in both directions: I do not think it is out of the question that, perhaps, some people will return to our country, and in fact some are already coming back. This means that the world has become more fluid, more mobile and all of its components are very much interdependent.
It is in Russia’s national interests to secure peace and order in the Middle East, peace and order for the people of Israel. It is no accident that the Soviet Union was among the initiators and supporters of the creation of the state of Israel.
I want to say that we had very fruitful and comprehensive talks with Prime Minister Netanyahu. We not only closed the books of what has been done lately but also discussed the need to broaden our cooperation in the near future and strategically. That is exactly what we intend to do.
I want to thank you, Mr President, for supporting policies aimed at broadening relations with Russia. I want to say (and I already told you this before) that in the fall of this year, we are planning to open a museum in Moscow called the Museum of Tolerance, but it will be largely devoted to the issues of the Holocaust.
And I once again sincerely invite you to its opening.