(Communicated by the Prime Minister’s Media Adviser)

Prime Minister Ariel Sharon met this afternoon with Macedonian Prime Minister Dr. Vlado Buckovski. The two leaders signed a joint declaration to mark 10 years since the establishment of diplomatic relations between Israel and Macedonia. Prime Minister Sharon made the following remarks at the signing ceremony: „I would like to welcome Macedonian Prime Minister Vlado Buckovski on his first visit to Israel, on the occasion of the tenth anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic relations between our two countries. Macedonia is a friendly country towards Israel. The two countries have shared values of freedom and democracy. During our meeting, we discussed the need to advance bilateral relations in all areas, but especially in agriculture, telecommunications, education and culture.

There is a small Jewish community in Macedonia and the Macedonian government is taking all necessary measures to maintain Jewish tradition. Prime Minister Buckovski is personally seeing to steps to lay a cornerstone for a Holocaust Memorial Center in Skopje. We also discussed ways to cooperate in the struggle against global terrorism in all its forms. Terrorism is the main threat to global stability and we discussed the need to defeat it in order to create a safer world that is free of terrorism. I hope that we will be able to continue to enhance bilateral relations and I am certain that Prime Minister Buckovski’s visit, including the signing of the joint declaration, will do so.” Macedonian Prime Minister Buckovski the following remarks at the signing ceremony: „First of all, allow me to express my pleasure and honor to visit the State of Israel that has a continuing history of over 35 centuries, that geographically connects three continents and was among the first countries to show that miracles can also happen in the field of economic development. With His Excellency, Prime Minister Sharon, we have discussed many topics of mutual interest, of regional and global character that directly affect both the relations between our two friendly countries, and the world. Two parties agree that political relations between the countries present an example of inter-country friendship and links. Our contacts are continuous and on different levels. The visits have opened a new page in bilateral relations and introduced new energy and dynamics in our cooperation. For many centuries, Macedonian citizens maintained close relations with the local Jewish community. Today, the Government of the Republic of Macedonia is doing everything it can in helping with the construction of the Holocaust Memorial Centre in Skopje, the capital of our country. That memorial will be the symbol of the sufferings of the Jewish people in the region, as well as a symbol of the close relations between our peoples and countries. With my highly esteemed colleague Sharon, we have concluded that development of democratic values and fundamental human rights and freedoms, inter-religious and inter-ethnic tolerance are highly-esteemed values in the world. We have concluded that all open issues, regional and global, should be resolved through open discussions and dialogue. Nations are not small or great because of their number, but because of their civilized characteristics. Both countries agree that acts of terrorism destroy fundamental human and civilized values. Global terrorism is a great challenge for the world. Global terrorism does not recognize borders. Therefore, fighting world terrorism is a great challenge for all states and peoples of the world. Political – and every other kind of – coordination are essential in this fight. We have both concluded that despite geographical distance, bilateral economic cooperation is growing. There are great opportunities for cooperation between the two countries and their companies, especially in the sphere of agriculture, high technology, direct investments, education, tourism, etc. Israeli investors are especially welcome in the Republic of Macedonia, where they are already working very successfully.” Macedonian Prime Minister Buckovski invited Prime Minister Sharon to visit Macedonia in order to dedicate the Holocaust Memorial Center in Skopje.