Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Wednesday was welcomed at the presidential palace in Astana by an honor guard and the national anthems of both countries. Netanyahu then held a private meeting with Kazakh President Nursultan Nazarbayev, followed by an expanded meeting.
This is the first visit to Kazakhstan by an Israeli Prime Minister.
The two countries signed agreements on research and development, aviation, civil service commissions and agricultural cooperation, as well as a declaration on establishing an agricultural consortium. It was also agreed that teams would be established to study high-tech and security development.
"Mr. President, thank you very much for these warm words," Netanyahu said. "I'm privileged to have the opportunity to be the first Israeli Prime Minister to visit Kazakhstan. It coincides with your 25 years of independence. We congratulate you on your stunning achievements. Look around and you will see a new nation rising from the soil. I appreciate and applaud your view into the future.
"You say, correctly, that the important thing is to take a raw material economy and to move it up. And we believe this is a task in which we could join hands and do many things together. We did not have, until recently actually, the blessings of raw material. We just found gas in the sea. I have a problem, Mr. President, in thinking of Israel as an energy-exporting country but it's a fact. But until then, before then, we had to export other things. And so we are now in the happy position of having both natural resources and man-made resources, which I think allows for a perfect marriage between what you're trying to do here and what we've been doing there.
"This is expressed first in our commitment to EXPO," Netanyahu continued. "We came here, it was an easy decision. We want to be here, we want to be partners with you in all the things that you said, and specifically three areas: One, agriculture; two, science and technology; and three, security and anti-terror efforts.
"We formed working groups and we are going to have a follow-up meeting in Israel. This will be the President's, I think, fourth visit to Israel, so I still have to come back here. But we would like to have these groups meet in Israel with concrete programs, so that we can move forward on this very ambitious plan. One of the things that we need to do, and you mentioned it just now, is to have direct flights. The people have to interact, have to be able to fly easily and comfortably between our two countries, and the more they do it – the more the economy will grow and the more people will want to do it and vice versa. So this is one of the practical things I think we should work on as soon as possible because it will enhance all the others.
"I want to commend you for your attitude of tolerance towards Jews. This is something that Jews who are here feel, and something Jews who came from Kazakhstan to Israel value deeply. You're right, they're a human bridge, but they're also your best ambassadors. They speak very warmly of Kazakhstan and of the attitude towards all religions here," emphasized Netanyahu.
"This is something that I think is important today for the world. What you see today are the leaders of a Muslim state and the leader of a Jewish state shaking hands, working to cooperate to create a better future for the citizens of our countries. But I think that this example of Muslim-Jewish cooperation is something that reverberates throughout the world. I said to you as we were walking in here that our relations with our Muslim Arab neighbors are changing dramatically. Not all of is public, some of it is, but it's changing dramatically. And I view the relations with Kazakhstan as being part of this great change that the world is waiting for.
"They do not want to see the forces of intolerance, the forces of tyranny, the forces of terror. They want to see the forces of progress and of amicability and of friendship and this is what this meeting represents. So I'm very grateful to have this opportunity. I must tell you what I said my hope is, and I say this to all our friends: My hope is that the great partnership that we are building here will also be reflected in international forums like the UN. That's beginning to happen. This ship doesn't move overnight, we understand that. It's a big ship but it's going to change. It's changing already.
"And in this context, I asked President Nazarbayev to support the Israeli bid for the Security Council seat. You know we supported Kazakhstan's successful bid to be in the Security Council. Now if you want a real change in the world, imagine the State of Israel on the Security Council of the United Nations – that's a change. And it's supposed to be in 2019, and I think it's possible. And with your help, it will be realized.
"So I thank you for your friendship and I look forward and I'm very excited to our cooperation. And I thank you for your warm hospitality here," Netanyahu concluded.
Minister Zeev Elkin told a meeting of the mixed economic commission.
"This is the historic first visit by an Israeli Prime Minister to Kazakhstan. Today we signed important cooperation agreements in the areas of agriculture, innovation and aviation, and we decided to start negotiations on a visa waiver. There is great potential for economic cooperation between Israel and Kazakhstan and we decided on a tangible action plan to put it into effect," Elkin said.
Netanyahu's visit to Kazakhstan comes after Tuesday's visit to Azerbaijan, as the Prime Minister continues opening up avenues to new countries such as China, India and African states that, in addition to other benefits, also balance the anti-Zionist developments in EU countries.. The Netanyahus left Israel on Tuesday morning, and are scheduled to return at the completion of the Kazakhstan visit.