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Israeli foreign minister kicks off European tour in Croatia

The meeting was the first stop on a four-country swing through central Europe.

Israeli Foreign Minister Eli Cohen, right, with Croatian Prime Minister Andrej Plenković on May 29, 2023 in Zagreb, Croatia. Source: Eli Cohen via Twitter
Israeli Foreign Minister Eli Cohen, right, with Croatian Prime Minister Andrej Plenković on May 29, 2023 in Zagreb, Croatia. Source: Eli Cohen via Twitter

Israeli Foreign Minister Eli Cohen met on Monday in Zagreb with Croatia’s Prime Minister Andrej Plenković.

The visit is part of a four-day diplomatic tour of central Europe, with the next stops being Austria, Slovakia and Hungary.

“I thanked him for Croatia’s support for Israel in international forums, and we discussed strengthening ties between our two countries.
Israel is a relatively small state with a strong economy, and Croatia wants to expand cooperation with us, for the benefit of both countries,” Cohen posted to Twitter.

Cohen also met with the country’s President Zoran Milanović and Foreign Minister Gordan Grlić Radman.

The two foreign ministers visited the Zagreb Holocaust Memorial together.

On this, Grlić Radman tweeted, “Standing together at the Holocaust memorial in Zagreb with Eli Cohen to honor the victims and remember their enduring legacy. Let us never forget the atrocities of the past and strive towards a world filled with peace and understanding.”

Gary Koren, Israel’s ambassador to Croatia, greeted Cohen upon his arrival to the capital Zagreb on Sunday night.

He will also meet with his counterparts in the other three countries, and in addition the foreign minister of the Czech Republic when Cohen partakes in a meeting of the Slavkov/Austerlitz format—a regional cooperation forum between Austria, Slovakia and the Czech Republic.

It is Cohen’s seventh visit to Europe since he assumed office at the start of the year in a bid to bolster the Jewish state’s relations with the European Union.

“The diplomatic visit to the countries of Central Europe strengthens our strategic coordination with our friends and creates opportunities for Israel to promote Israel’s political and economic interests on the continent,” Cohen said ahead of his trip.

“Israel’s friendship with the European Union plays a central role in our relations with Europe. From the economic, cultural and technological cooperation, to the common fight against terrorism and the Iranian nuclear weapon. We will continue to work with the countries of the European Union in order to strengthen the State of Israel and the Israeli economy for the sake of all the citizens of Israel,” the minister continued.

According to Israeli media reports, while in Budapest Cohen will attempt to reach a final agreement on Hungary moving its embassy to Jerusalem. He is expected to meet with his Hungarian counterpart Péter Szijjártó and possibly with Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban.

Viktor Orbán, the Prime Minister of Hungary, answers questions at the press conference at the federal chancellery in Berlin. Credit: Photocosmos1/Shutterstock.

A report in March indicated that Hungary was preparing to move its embassy to Jerusalem, which would make it the first European Union member to do so; the European Union does not formally recognize Jerusalem as Israel’s capital.

Orban maintains close relations with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, with the two leaders seeing eye-to-eye on many issues.

The United States, Guatemala, Kosovo and Honduras currently operate embassies in Jerusalem.

Since the 37th Israeli government was sworn in on December 29, Cohen has visited 15 countries in total and is expected to visit Manila on June 3, becoming the first Israeli foreign minister to visit the Philippines in 56 years.

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