Nov. 18, 2021

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Ben-Gurion University of the Negev hosted a plethora of dignitaries on Thursday for a daylong diplomatic and academic event marking 30 years since the renewal of Israeli-Russian relations. 



The event, held almost entirely in Russian, featured research reports from joint Israeli-Russian teams and keynote speeches from Russian Federation Ambassador to Israel Anatoly Viktorov, Housing and Construction Minister Ze'ev Elkin and hockey legend Viacheslav Fetisov.

Other notable attendees included Science and Technology Minister Orit Farkash-Hacohen, Chairperson of the Knesset Finance Committee Alex Kushnir, and several representatives of Russian universities both in person and on Zoom including Pavlov University Rector Dr. Sergey Bagnenko and Moscow State University of Psychology and Education (MSUPE) Rector Prof. Arkady Margolis.

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Russia's Ambassador to Israel, Anatoly Viktorov discussed Israeli-Russian relations, "We have a long and distinguished history, and we work on many levels to advance common interests, including science and education.

"We are working together to solve the urgent task of mutual recognition of coronavirus vaccination certificates and other measures that can facilitate the renewal of travel of the citizens of our countries in both directions."

The Ambassador also raised the issue of the Palestinians, saying, "We see Israel as an important partner in the Middle East and believe that comprehensive solutions to regional problems must necessarily take into account Israel's security interests. We are ready to assist in any way to solve the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, which remains the heart of the Middle East, by acting primarily within the framework of the Middle East Quartet of international mediators."

"We believe that the concerns of the Israeli colleagues regarding the activities of other regional powers could be removed through the exchange of information and other confidence-building measures envisaged in the recently updated Russia's Collective Security Concept for the Persian Gulf Region," he added.

He addressed the more than a million Israeli citizens who made Aliyah from Russia.

"The unique nature of our cooperation is largely determined by the fact that, according to the estimates, up to two million Russian-speakers live in Israel.  They are widely represented in the social and political life of Israel. We will continue to cooperate for the prosperity of both countries."



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Minister Elkin addressed the gathering in Russian, "We are marking 30 years since the renewal of diplomatic relations between Israel and Russia and, for me, this also has personal significance as someone who made Aliyah around that time. Then, I could not imagine today's reality, where the countries collaborate closely in so many areas. We have a rich past filled with cultural, financial, and academic ties and our mission is to continue to develop these close ties."

On a more whimsical note, he shared his excitement to be able to take a photo with Fetisov, one of his sports idols growing up. Fetisov reciprocated by saying during his remarks that he was honored an Israeli minister wanted to take a photo with him.

BGU Rector Chaim Hames stressed the common denominators of science and education.

"Russia-Israel relations are founded upon mutual interests and a deep tie stemming from the fact that a million expatriate Russians live in Israel. These relations experienced ups and downs over the years. Nevertheless, science and research has always been a common denominator between the countries. We will continue to promote and expand the collaborations between our scientists and researchers to create a better world."​


Photo credits: Shay Shmueli/BGU