President Reuven Rivlin hosted an official welcoming ceremony for President of Poland H.E. Andrzej Duda, marking his official visit to the State of Israel. President Rivlin received President Duda on the red carpet before the national anthems were played, after which both Presidents reviewed an honor guard and delivered brief statements.
President Rivlin welcomed President Duda of Poland on his arrival and thanked him also for attending the funeral of Israel’s Ninth President, Shimon Peres. He went on to speak of the close ties between the two countries, and said, “Our meeting with officials of the Polish Government are always replete with content and interest, and are a testament to the close ties between our states and our peoples; close historical ties, alongside dealing bravely with a complex, rich, and painful past. Today, there is perhaps no field in which there is not unique cooperation between the two countries. Among them, there is enhanced trade and relations in the fields of science, culture, sport, and security – and I hope we will tighten this cooperation even further.”
He added, “The ties between Israel, the European Union, and Poland are a cornerstone for our foreign policy. We are not only trade partners, we share values, challenges, and geographical proximity, and it is important we coordinate positions in relation to the emerging international agenda.
“Mr. President, you come to Israel, to Jerusalem, at a time when we are facing a wave of terror. We have lived for many years in the shadow of the threat of terror, yet we keep our heads high. Despite this struggle, we succeed in developing here an industry of innovation, of creativity, and initiative, and we want to deepen the cooperation between us.”
President Rivlin concluded by urging Polish citizens to visit Israel, “Come and get to know Israel in person. Come and see firsthand the history there is here, down every path and alleyway, and the advanced future of industry and information technology.”
President Duda thanked President Rivlin for his visit to Poland two years earlier, and for his participation then in the inauguration ceremony of the Jewish Heritage Museum in Warsaw. He said, “This wonderful Museum is testament to our shared history of 2,000 years. This important Museum is in essence for the younger generation in Poland and indeed young Israelis visiting Poland, so they can see the deep ties between the peoples, and the contribution of the Jewish community to building the Polish state and culture.” He gave as an example, the life of the late Shimon Peres who grew up in Poland.
He went on to say, “Many Polish citizens of Jewish origin, gave their lives in defense of Polish sovereignty before the Nazi occupation in 1939. Many paid the ultimate price and we the Polish people remember them always.” He added, “In our history there have also been dramatic and difficult moments. The German invasion of Poland, and what occurred after in the territories occupied by the Nazis, in that factory of death, and the Holocaust, which so deeply damaged the Jewish people. But this was also a spur toward the building of a strong and safe state, in the building of which so many Jews who were born in Poland took part.
“For many years Poland and Israel have been bound by close ties,” President Duda added, “Poland always supported Israel, and I want to assure it will continue to do so.”
He concluded his statement by noting the need for dialogue between Israel and the Palestinians. He said, “It is very important to us that these relations will be as much as possible out of mutual respect, the consideration of the mutual needs of the peoples is important in the discussion and dialogue, and the way to ensure this mutuality in the relations is without imposition by other countries.”
Following their statements, the two Presidents went on to hold a working meeting during which President Rivlin spoke in relation to the French hosted summit which had taken place the previous weekend. He said, “Trust is not built through international summits, only with the clear understanding of both sides that we live here together.”
President Duda also spoke during the meeting about the fight against anti-Semitism in Poland. He commented, “I have said in the past that all who hold anti-Semitic ideas in Poland are as one who desecrates a grave, a despicable act. I also said that those within my people who took part in the pogrom in Kielecki after the end of the Second World War excommunicated themselves from the Polish people. This is my deep conviction. History is sometimes difficult, we are interested in it and try to discover the facts, even the complicated facts. Because there were provocations which in the end led to specific events. But respect for human beings is a supreme value which should not be affected by any kind of provocation. As I said, not all people can be heroes, but we must demand from everyone human decency.”
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