By Jonathan Benedek/TPS
Jerusalem (TPS) – Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu and his Luxembourg counterpart Xavier Bettel toasted strong diplomatic ties between the two countries Monday and pledged to build on an already strong economic relationship.
“We are friends, Luxembourg and Israel, and our bilateral relations are excellent on the political level but also on the business level,” said Bettel. “We have a big economic delegation that is currently in discussions with its counterparts here in Israel.”
Bettel’s visit follows a 2015 trade mission from Luxembourg to Israel focusing on the finance, logistics, automotive components and clean technology sectors. This summer, a delegation of Israeli financial technology (fintech) companies reciprocated with a week-long visit to the European country.
“Trade between Luxembourg and Israel nearly doubled from 2014 to 2015. There is still a large potential but I’m also happy that we opened a Trade and Investment Office here in Israel in 2010,” Bettel added.
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said the bilateral relationship between Israel and Luxembourg demonstrates a unique ability for small countries to assume leadership roles in the field of innovation.
“Israel and Luxembourg are two small countries but we’ve shown that two small countries shouldn’t be judged by our size,” said Netanyahu. “Innovation is the key to economic growth, to turn the promise of tomorrow’s technologies to better the lives of our peoples and I think for the peoples around the world,” the Israeli prime minister added.
Prime Minister Bettel said an additional focus of his visit to Israel is the field of education. He will visit the Hebrew University of Jerusalem to sign an agreement between universities to strengthen cooperation on the academic and student levels.
Jerusalem’s ties with Luxembourg have not always run smoothly. A significant portion of the European country’s population collaborated with Nazi Germany during World War II, and did not offer an official apology until June 2015.
“I’m very happy that my Government, 70 years later, apologized to the Jewish community by saying that we were not all heroes in my country,” said Luxembourg’s Prime Minister. “It’s never too late to recognize mistakes, but the biggest mistake is not to recognize mistakes.”
Prime Minister Netanyahu acknowledged the apology, saying, “I expressed my appreciation for the forthright position that you took in Luxembourg regarding the events there during the Second World War. Your apology to the Jewish community was [also] deeply appreciated,” Netanyahu told Bettel.TPS / Tazpit News Agency