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Monday, 29 May 2000

Visit in Israel

On the second day of the visit, President Kwasniewski was hosted by Polish soldiers on the Goland Heights. In conversations with soldiers, he said: Poland is in the absolute lead of states engaged in peace-keeping missions. From the start, 35 thousand of our soldiers have taken part in them on various continents. Few nations have done so much for peace. In Tel Aviv, the President took part in the Economic Forum Israel-Poland, as well as meeting with professors and students at the university. Asked about his impressions from the visit, he stressed that was his first official to Israel. The previous meetings with Israeli politicians were more burdened with the past, with problems of property-retribution, Holocaust and the Auswitz crosses. This visit is by far more oriented towards the future. That`s come out of the woodwork, he said. The past few years of my activity, as well as of the activity by consecutive cabinets, have served to remove the most difficult obstacles from Polish-Israeli relations. We have not fully succeeded yet, but appreciated is the Polish determination and honesty in this respect, he added. During his meeting with the students, President Kwasniwski spoke of the emigration after 1968. I made it that a fast lane of redressing the wrong, that is of returning Polish citizenship to many a person who emigrated from Poland against their will, has been thrown open. This possibility has been used by several thousand people. Aleksander Kwasniewski said that there is optimism in Israel over the peace process. The decision to withdraw the armed froces from southern Libanon was risky, but aroused faith in the process, both among Israelis themselves and their political elites. Today, Israelis have an argument on their side for the first time, which they have not had thus far. They fulfilled the obligations - the resolution of the United Nations. There was satisfaction in my talks with the President, the Prime Minister and Ministers that it is possible to overcome historical problems. All of that added up to that that talks were very sincere, friendly and full of Polish accents, as they are aplenty in Israel nearly everywhere. No way of not talking of common roots, which will always make it that Israel is a different country from the remaining ones. Here, the bond between history and tradition is unique, the President said. The third day of the official visit to Israel and the Palestinian Autonomy was begun with a breakfast with representatives of Polish and Israeli businessmen. Afterwards, the President received Chairman of the Likud A. Sharon. The visit ended with sightseeing the Old Jerulasem, where the President stopped over at the Wailing Wall and the Basilica of the Holy Sepulchre. The President was accompanied by the Religious Superior of Jerusalem and dignitaries of the three Churches: Catholic, Orthodox and Ormian. The visit to the Palestinian Autonomy and the meeting with its leader Yasser Arafat were the key point of the day`s programme. The talks were devoted to the peace process in the Middle East, Palestine`s future and the Israeli-Palestinian dialogue. President Kwa?niewski underscored the high degree of difficulty of the process and expressed his hope for its successful course. In recognition of Poland`s merits in building an independent Palestine, Arafat decorated the President with the medal "Bethlehem 2000." In talks with the authorities of the Palestinian Autonomy, the President said it was necessary to expand tourist cooperation. After the talk with Arafat, Aleksander Kwasniewski went to the Nativity Cave. Winding up his visit, the President told reporters: We have talked about the peace process in the Middle East and the future of Pelestine. These are very difficult processes and we wish them well. The President also pointed to Poland`s contribution to the consolidation of peace in the region made by Polish soldiers in peace-keeping missions.
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