Greek Opposition Leader to Visit Israel; Calls for Fuller Ties

The leader of Greece’s opposition Conservative Party, Constantine Mitsotakis, announced Friday that he will visit Israel later this year in an official capacity. And he urged at a press conference here that the government extend full diplomatic recognition to Israel immediately.

The two countries have relations at the consular level, although Israel’s diplomatic representative in Athens, Moshe Gilboa, holds the rank of Ambassador. Mitsotakis said he was invited to Israel by Gilboa.

He said that while Greek-Arab friendship is a cornerstone of Greek foreign policy, that does not preclude equally good relations with Israel. Asked why Greece did not establish full ties with Israel in 1981 when the Conservative Party was in power and he was Foreign Minister, Mitsotakis said it was under consideration and he was looking for the “right moment.”

“I think I can reveal it now: During 1981 I had contacts with the Spanish government discussing the possibility of recognizing Israel together,” Mitsotakis said. “The matter failed when the Conservatives lost the elections in October 1981.” Spain established full diplomatic relations with Israel in January 1986.

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