Herzog Awards Israeli Presidential Medal of Honor to President of Cyprus

President Yitzchak Herzog presents the Presidential Medal to Cyprus President Nicos Anastasiades, at the President’s Residence, on Wednesday. (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)

President Yitzchak Herzog awarded the Israeli Presidential Medal of Honor today to the President of the Republic of Cyprus, Nicos Anastasiades.

President Yitzchak Herzog and First Lady Michal Herzog welcomed President Nicos Anastasiades and First Lady Andri Anastasiadou in the Ceremonial Plaza of the President’s Residence, in an official ceremony with an IDF honor guard and the IDF Band. The President then awarded the Israeli Presidential Medal of Honor to his Cypriot counterpart in a ceremony in the Great Hall, where both leaders delivered remarks.

The Israeli Presidential Medal of Honor was awarded to President Nicos Anastasiades of the Republic of Cyprus for being an ally and a true friend of the State of Israel; for his contributions to the great friendship and thriving partnership between Cyprus and Israel, which is blossoming in many fields; and for his key role in the establishment and development of the trilateral relationship between Israel, Cyprus and Greece, which is a strategic anchor of stability in the Mediterranean Basin.

President Herzog said: “The last time we had the privilege of meeting was when you so graciously hosted me at the Presidential Palace in Nicosia. That visit was of extreme importance, further solidifying the Cyprus-Israel relationship as a pillar of Mediterranean stability. I was humbled at the time to receive The Grand Collar of the Order of Makarios the Third — and I take great pride in that honor.

“Today, my dear friend President Anastasiades and Mrs. Anastasiadou, it is a true pleasure to host both of you here, at the President’s Residence, in the holy city of Yerushalayim. As we welcome you again to the State of Israel, I hope and trust that by now, you feel at home.

“The relationship between the Cypriot people and the People of Israel goes back centuries. As you know, my own maternal grandfather, Simcha Ambache, had great confidence in Cyprus about one hundred years ago, and he and a few partners founded the famous Phassouri Plantations.

“Since the establishment of the State of Israel, and certainly over recent decades, Israel and Cyprus have been successful in forming an ever-growing alliance. While the nations of the Mediterranean have more often been divided by conflict than united by cooperation, Israel and Cyprus have actually built a true friendship.

“You, President Anastasiades, have played a paramount role in advancing a new spirit of unity in our region, as I saw with my own eyes at COP27 in Sharm el-Sheikh two days ago, and I heard of your incredible conference yesterday, and by creating an avenue for true partnership and deep respect. This spirit of cooperation, in the face of shared challenges, has expanded to new forums and frameworks: from your critical climate change initiative, to the EastMed Gas Forum; from the recent inauguration of the EuroAsia Interconnector, which will supply solar energy from Israel to Cyprus and from there to Europe; to the four-way dialogue that we launched in Paphos together with our Emirati partners. Not to mention the multilateral cooperation we have built in combating forest fires and other natural disasters.

“The core of this new Mediterranean reality is built upon the brave Israel-Cyprus bilateral relationship, which you have courageously spearheaded, including our trilateral alliance together with Greece. The three-way Hellenic alliance has become a pillar of Mediterranean stability in the present, and a key to a sustainable, healthy and prosperous future. There is no doubt that this unprecedented reality of cooperation, mutual understanding and deep respect are a direct result of your decade-long presidency.

“The partnership, and the collaborative, forthcoming approach you have demonstrated are a central part of your legacy. You are a true democrat, Mr. President, and a leader whose power emanates from your deep courage. You saw your country through a challenging economic crisis, and through it all, remained a gentleman. I know the warmth you have consistently shown to Israel and the Jewish People is a true testament to your integrity and decency. There is a great deal to be learned from you, and I am so proud to call you my friend.

“It is therefore an honor and a privilege for me to thank you on behalf of the State of Israel, for the solid leadership you have demonstrated, for the bridges you have formed between our nations, and for your gift of friendship.

“The Israeli Presidential Medal of Honor is the highest civil honor the State of Israel awards foreign dignitaries like yourself, with the previous recipient being President of the United States Joe Biden. It is my great pleasure to award you this honor, symbolizing our nation’s deep gratitude for your partnership and principles.”

President Nicos Anastasiades said: “Being bestowed the Israeli Presidential Medal of Honor evokes intense feelings and emotions. Please accept, dear Yitzchak, the sincere gratitude, both mine and the people of the Republic of Cyprus, to whom I owe today’s highest honor. An honor which I humbly accept as the sincere recognition and appreciation to the tireless efforts I have exerted to further advance our relationship, which we can now proudly call as strategic.”

The Presidential Medal of Honor is awarded to individuals who have made an extraordinary contribution to the State of Israel or to humanity through their talents, their service, or in any other way. The award, the initiative of the ninth President of Israel of the State of Israel, the late Shimon Peres, was first awarded in 2012. Prior to President Herzog’s presidency, the honor was bestowed on 26 individuals, on the recommendation of an advisory committee headed by retired Supreme Court President, Justice Meir Shamgar.

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