By Sammy Revel (Ambassador of Israel in Nicosia)
In the coming days, we are going to celebrate the 70th Independence Day of the State of Israel.
I am happy and proud to celebrate this year here in Cyprus, a neighbouring country as well as a true friend and close partner.
The establishment of the State of Israel in 1948 was a fulfilment of a 2,000-year-old dream of the Jewish people. Following centuries of exile, the nation’s hope was finally realized; “To be a free people in our land, The land of Zion and Jerusalem” (Israel's national anthem- Hatikva).
For Jewish Holocaust survivors, the UN decision of 29 November 1947 – which opened the door to the creation of the State of Israel – was a true miracle. A historic moment, that enabled the rise from the ashes of the Holocaust, to a new life in a Jewish sovereign independent state.
In recent years, more than ever before, this “alliance of the hearts” was coupled with “an alliance of interests”
It was in that period that the links between the Jewish and the Cypriot people, which date back to the Hellenistic period, received a new meaning.
The historic bonds between the two people transformed to an “alliance of the hearts”, when around 53,000 Jews, who fled Europe, were led to British detention camps in Cyprus.
During those difficult times, a strong friendship emerged with the people of Cyprus, who loyal to their moral convictions, opened their hearts to assist the Jewish detainees in the camps.
This “alliance of the hearts” is solidified by common values since both nations value democracy and freedom. The Proclamation of Independence of Israel ensures complete equality of social, political and religious freedom.
The expression of this freedom can be seen in the Old City of Jerusalem – a sacred place to the three major monotheistic religions, where Christians walk on their way to the Church of the Holy Sepulchre, alongside Muslims entering the Mosque for the Friday prayer and Jews gathering at the Wailing Wall.
In recent years, more than ever before, this “alliance of the hearts” was coupled with “an alliance of interests”. During emergency situations and in times of need, Cyprus and Israel stand side by side.
The upcoming Trilateral Summit between the heads of States of Cyprus, Israel and Greece in the coming weeks, signalizes the genuine will of cooperation at the highest level.
On the regional strategic level, confronting threats of extremism and terrorism, Israel and Cyprus together with other like-minded countries in the region, share the vision of promoting stability, security and peace.
Great opportunities arise for our countries to advance even more their economic cooperation.
The significant natural gas reserves in the Eastern Mediterranean offer much potential for joint ventures and commercial growth.
With over 80 flights per week between the two countries, record numbers of tourists enjoy the beautiful attractions and our rich cultural heritage, while the growing investments in tourism infrastructure, indicate a significant potential for further development.
Today, we believe that the time is right to connect Israel and Cyprus in the important field of INNOVATION and STARTUPS. We Israelis are very proud of the many accomplishments our nation has achieved.
In the early years, Israel was mainly an agricultural country, but over the past decades it became known as the “START-UP NATION”.
As we like to say “Israel went from oranges to Apple”! Israel’s high tech eco-system and thousands of Israeli start-ups have given rise to innovations from drip irrigation, solar systems, computer hardware, robotics, biotechnology, navigation systems, automated cars and much more.
Israel’s 70th Independence Day celebrations in Cyprus this year will be in particular a celebration of Innovation.
The Embassy of Israel, together with the government of Cyprus and leading research institutions, will host Saul Singer, co-author of the best seller “Start-Up Nation: The Story of Israel’s Economic Miracle”.
The book examines Israel’s adversity-driven culture and how the entrepreneurial spirit launched the country’s high-tech sector.
I am convinced that together we will be able to foster the culture of innovation and create the necessary environment to encourage entrepreneurship. This will be an important element to further promote long lasting prosperity and offer a new horizon to the future generation.
I look forward to writing a new exciting chapter in the relations between our countries. Relations which are based on the beating heart of our historical bonds, on the profound friendship between Israel and Cyprus, on our common values and on a shared vision for the future.