Photo Credit: GPO
Prime Minister Netanyahu speaks to reporters with his wife at his side at Ben Gurion Airport.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Thursday left on a diplomatic visit to Vilna, Lithuania, where he will attend a summit of the Baltic states (B3+1) and meet with Lithuanian Prime Minister Saulius Skvernelis, Latvian Prime Minister Maris Kucinskis and Estonian Prime Minister Juri Ratas. The four leaders will discuss the deepening of cooperation between their countries.

Prime Minister Netanyahu will also meet with Lithuanian President Dalia Grybauskaite at the presidential palace.

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The Prime Minister will attend a ceremony at the Ponary memorial site, along with Prime Minister Skvernelis, Lithuanian Foreign Minister Linas Linkevicius and Fania Brancovskaja, a Holocaust survivor from the Vilna ghetto.

Netanyahu will award a medal and a certificate to Birute Slapikiene, the granddaughter of a family of Righteous among the Nations, and visit the Vilna Choral Synagogue, which survived World War II, where he will meet with members of the Lithuanian Jewish community.

“This is the first time that a Prime Minister of Israel will be visiting Lithuania and has been invited to this summit,” Netanyahu stated upon his departure from Ben Gurion International Airport, noting that “this reflects Israel’s growing stature around the world.”

“Of course, we are interested in tightening economic and diplomatic links with these countries just as they are interested in doing the same with us,” Netanyahu said, and confessed: “I am also interested in balancing the not always friendly EU approach toward the State of Israel, in order to achieve an approach that is more fair and genuine to the State of Israel. I do this through contacts with blocs of countries within the EU, the countries of Eastern Europe, [and] now with the Baltic states and, of course, with other states.”

Netanyahu related a personal note: “The families of my parents – of blessed memory – came from Lithuania at the end of the 19th century and the beginning of the 20th; I am making this visit also for this.”

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