Greece reopens to Israeli tourists after virus ban: FM

By: AFP      Published: 09:05 PM, 13 Aug, 2020
Greece reopens to Israeli tourists after virus ban: FM

Greece's foreign minister said Thursday that Greece would resume admitting Israeli tourists, barred for several months under coronavirus restrictions.

"Greece is opening its gates for Israeli tourists," Nikos Dendias said at the end of a one-day visit to the Jewish state including meetings with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Foreign Minister Gabi Ashkenazi.

"That's in the beginning for a limited number, 600 per week to four destinations," he said, naming Athens, Salonika, Corfu and Crete.

Speaking at Tel Aviv's international airport as he prepared to return to Greece, he voiced hope that number would go up as epidemiological data improve. 

Greece started to accept other foreign visitors in June but Israelis were excluded because of a spike in COVID-19 infections.

Ashkenazi welcomed the Greek decision but neither he nor Dendias gave a date for the resumption of flights.

"It was agreed that the two countries' foreign ministries would draft an agreed  programme to allow the entry of Israeli tourists and business people to Greece," an Israeli foreign ministry statement said.

Netanyahu spoke of the two countries' "common geopolitical interests".

Greece, Israel and Cyprus are partners in a project to build an undersea pipeline to carry gas from the eastern Mediterranean to Europe.

Turkey opposes the deal and on Monday sent a research ship, accompanied by Turkish naval vessels, to explore off the Greek island of Kastellorizo. 

Netanyahu told Dendias:"We view gravely any aggression by anyone, including Turkey, in the eastern Mediterranean."