Quartet Head Tony Blair Outlines Key Elements for Future of Middle East
June 19, 2012 – Jerusalem, Israel – In an emotional ceremony, Israeli President Shimon Peres awarded fellow Nobel Peace Prize laureate and former United States Secretary of State Henry Kissinger with Israel’s first Presidential Award of Distinction, for Kissinger’s lifetime of contribution to the Jewish State. The ceremony took place as part of the evening session which closed the opening day of Facing Tomorrow 2012.
Joining Peres and Kissinger in offering his perspective on The Compass that Navigates the Future, as the session was entitled, was former British prime minister, and current Quartet envoy Tony Blair. Also in attendance were the President of Albania, the President of Croatia and the President of the Ivory Coast, as well as Israeli foreign minister Avigdor Lieberman and many other dignitaries.
In conferring the award, Peres said, “This award while being delivered from my hands, comes from the hearts of my (the Israeli) people. I feel that I am handing it not to a friend, but to a brother.”
Kissinger, who first met Peres in 1962, then joined Peres on-stage and the two long-time statesmen embraced before Kissinger spoke.
“Shimon and friends,” began Kissinger, “it is unusual for an 89-year old man to say that I wish my parents (with whom Kissinger fled from the Nazi-dominated Germany in 1938) could be here. They would be more proud of this distinction than any of the other honors that have come my way.”
Blair addressed the massive upheaval in the Middle East over the past 12 months, saying, “We (the international community, led by the Quartet) have no option but to stay engaged in this part of the world. Democracy is not just a way of voting. It’s a way of thinking. It’s about freedom of expression, freedom of the media and freedom of religion.”
He also said about Iran, “We must have the will to prevent it (Iran’s acquisition of nuclear weapons) and when we say it, we must mean it.”
Facing Tomorrow 2012, the fourth annual Conference under the auspices of the President of the State of Israel, Mr. Shimon Peres, is taking place in Jerusalem from June 19-21, 2012, and will take place at Jerusalem’s International Convention Center. The conference is organized in partnership with Hebrew University.
About Facing Tomorrow 2012
The Fourth Israel Presidential Conference 'Facing Tomorrow' will be held from June 19-21, 2012. The first presidential conference took place in May 2008, one week after Israel celebrated its 60th year of independence, and on the basis of its success became an annual event. Attended by more than 5,000 people from around the world, and dedicated to designing a better tomorrow, the conference is centered around discussions, panels and plenary sessions aimed at answering one question: how can we foster a better tomorrow for the international community, Israel and the Jewish world. For more information, please visit www.presidentconf.org.il.