Photo Credit: Haim Zach / GPO
Croatian Prime Minister Andrej Plenkovic, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in Jerusalem

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu met Tuesday morning (Jan. 24) in Jerusalem with Croatian Prime Minister Andrej Plenkovic, who on his first visit to Israel as Prime Minister.

The Croatian leader invited Prime Minister Netanyahu to visit his country, which is among the friendliest to Israel in Europe; relations between the two have become significantly closer in the past year.

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The two men signed a “declaration of intent” on cooperation in the field of prevention of disasters and emergency response. The signing comes in the wake of assistance that Israel received from Croatia during the recent fires that raged through the nation, and in light of Croatia’s rapid response in providing that assistance. The incident provided a basis for cooperation.

An excerpt from the declaration provides some insight into the agreement:

“[The two sides] hereby declare their intention to explore possibilities of joint avenues of cooperation in the field of prevention of disasters and emergency response. Such cooperation may include the following forms and methods: Exchange of experts and study visits; Assistance upon request at times of occurrence of disasters; Sharing of information on training programs in the field of preventing and emergency response; Exchange of lessons learned from previous experience; Any other form or method agreed by the Parties.”

“It’s your first visit to Israel. Certainly I hope it’s not the last because we want to make sure that we have ongoing visits,” said Prime Minister Netanyahu with a smile. “I thank you for your invitation to me to visit Croatia. You have a beautiful country and many Israelis go there, and of course we would like to go there too at the appropriate time.

“We’ve seen a great improvement in our relations in recent years and I want to thank you especially for your strong support in international forums, in European forums, in the UN and elsewhere you stood very clearly and very firmly for the truth — which means standing for Israel.

“We cooperate in many fields and we spoke just now about the need to cooperate even further in the fields of economy, of technology, in every field of economic endeavor but also in the field that we’re already advancing, which is emergency disaster cooperation.

“The best example is firefighting,” PM Netanyahu pointed out. “We are making progress in a joint international force that we’d like to make from countries in the Mediterranean region. We’re having an exercise, I think a joint exercise in May, that is a practical application of what we’re doing, and we’re going to sign a declaration for cooperation in emergency situations.

“Beyond that, I think that we are living in a world of great challenge and opportunities. The challenge is clear, there are destabilizing forces throughout our region, some of them are sending firmaments into your region, to the entire world and we have to fight this militant Islamic terrorism together but we also want to achieve an international order of some balance and stability to allow security and prosperity for our peoples.

“This is a very much a goal shared by the two of us and I look forward to continuing that discussion this morning with you and your delegation and to welcome you once again to Jerusalem.”

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