STA, 8 December 2020 - Prime Minister Janez Janša met his Israeli counterpart Benjamin Netanyahu as part of an official visit to Israel on Tuesday. The pair discussed the strengthening of bilateral cooperation, particularly in innovation. Netanyahu thanked Slovenia for declaring Hezbollah a terrorist organisation.
The visit of the Slovenian prime minister is an opportunity for a new beginning in relations between the two countries, Netanyahu said in a press release published on his Twitter.
"This is the beginning of a beautiful friendship," he added.
Israel's prime minister said that Janša had always been a great advocate of the Israel-Slovenia alliance, adding that Janša's actions in his capacity as prime minister showed how deeply he was committed to this vision.
Netanyahu thanked Janša for declaring the Hezbollah Shia Islamist movement a terrorist organisation and for expressing support for Israel in international forums.
The Slovenian government declared Hezbollah a terrorist organisation last week, a step that was recently also welcomed by US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo.
In November, Slovenia, along with 13 other countries, voted against the WHO resolution which would aim to secure access to healthcare amid the pandemic for residents of the occupied Palestinian territory and Syrian Golan.
Prime Minister Netanyahu added:— PM of Israel (@IsraeliPM) December 8, 2020
"We've just signed the Abraham Accords, and country after country is joining the peace agreement that we have and the normalization agreements that we have with the United Arab Emirates, with Bahrain, with Sudan. Others are coming in. pic.twitter.com/ut6UHABFm4
Janša said in a press release today that Slovenia was one of the European countries which attempted to see the Middle East situation as it was and not as it was often depicted.
"We're realists and we know the true role of Israel here, the importance of Israel for peace in the world and the region. We're willing to do everything to strengthen this position," he said.
The prime ministers agreed that there were numerous untapped opportunities for cooperation, with Netanyahu highlighting AI, cybersecurity, trade and tourism as areas of untapped potential.
Netanyahu described Slovenia and Israel as advanced democracies, competent when it comes to tech advancements and forward-looking, sharing a wish to improve lives of their citizens.
He also announced that the two countries would sign an innovation agreement today.
"Opportunities belong to those who create innovations. Innovations create value added and competitive advantage as well as propel economies," he said.
Janša said that Israel, as one of the most innovative countries in the world, was a major role model for Slovenia.
During yesterday's meeting with representatives of Israel's innovation sector, he determined that there were a lot of opportunities for cooperation that would need to be explored in the future.
Janša also told Netanyahu that cybersecurity would be one of Slovenia's priorities during the country's EU Council presidency in the second half of 2021.
Since Israel is very advanced in this field, we would like to share know-how and cooperate closely, Janša added.
Netanyahu said that Israel was looking forward to using the port of Koper as an entry point for the country's products in the European market.
Janša is expected to meet Israel's President Reuven Rivlin and Foreign Minister Gabi Ashkenazi today as well.