President Nicos Anastasiades was decorated with Israel’s Presidential Medal of Honour for being a “true friend” during a special ceremony in Jerusalem.
The President of Israel, Isaac Herzog, decorated him.
Anastasiades was awarded the medal “for being an ally and a true friend to the state of Israel, for his contribution to the great friendship between Cyprus and Israel and key role in the establishment of the trilateral relationship between Israel, Cyprus and Greece.”
He said it was an “honour which I humbly accept as the sincere recognition and appreciation to the tireless efforts I have exerted to further advance our relationship, which we can now proudly call strategic”.
“Experiencing this relationship flourishing has been, for me personally, a conviction of the heart.
“Needless to remind that my first official visit to a third country when I assumed office was in Jerusalem in May 2013, and ever since, I have personally invested significant political capital in cultivating our ties.”
According to the Israeli Presidency, Herzog recalled his family history, noting his maternal grandfather, Simcha Ambache, “had great confidence in Cyprus about one hundred years ago, and he and a few partners founded the famous Phassouri Plantations”.
“Since the establishment of the State of Israel, and certainly over recent decades, Israel and Cyprus have been successful in forming an ever-growing alliance.
“While the nations of the Mediterranean have more often been divided by conflict than united by cooperation, Israel and Cyprus have actually built a true friendship.”
He told Anastasiades, “there is no doubt that this unprecedented reality of cooperation, mutual understanding and deep respect are a direct result of your decade-long presidency”.
“I know the warmth you have consistently shown to Israel and the Jewish People is a true testament to your integrity and decency.
“There is a great deal to be learned from you, and I am so proud to call you my friend.”
Anastasiades was also the first foreign leader to meet Benjamin Netanyahu after his election victory.
During their Wednesday meeting, they discussed energy-related issues, such as the Eurasia Interconnector and the EU’s decision to fund the project.
According to a government statement, the funding for the Eurasia Interconnector is the largest ever allocated by the EU for this type of project.
The leaders discussed ways to speed up the procedures for implementing the Israel-Cyprus electricity interconnection.
And potential synergies concerning the transfer of natural gas to Cyprus from Israel’s fields and their export to the EU countries.