“I enjoy every minute. Every day is a big gift for me. To see the beauty of Israel and her people, and to advance the interests of the country around the world. It is a huge honor to serve the nation of Israel and to act as a public emissary for the entire country,” said President Shimon Peres, on the occasion of his five-year anniversary in office. Peres is the ninth president of the State of Israel, and has done much to rehabilitate the image of the office after his predecessor, Moshe Katsav, was convicted.
Peres, 88 years of age, is a prolific writer as well as being an extremely busy man. According to Beit Hanassi, in the five years since taking office, Peres conducted 1,205 diplomatic meetings; answered 100,000 public inquiries; hosted 662 events at the president’s residence, at which 163,000 Israeli citizens attended; visited 157 towns and regional councils countrywide; and granted over 1,000 interviews to the foreign press.
During his five years in office, Peres has held working meetings with heads of state and senior political leaders from around the world, including Russian President Vladimir Putin, Italian President Giorgio Napolitano, U.N. Secretary General Ban-Ki Moon, British Prime Minister David Cameron, Pope Benedict XVI, former French President Nicolas Sarkozy, German Chancellor Angela Merkel, U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, and former Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi.
In five years, Peres has conducted 50 official state visits on five continents. This past year he visited Vietnam and the U.S. West Coast to drum up trade with, and investment in, Israel. In March of this year, Peres opened the annual AIPAC conference and received the Presidential Medal of Freedom from U.S. President Barack Obama. Peres has also traveled to Canada and Cyprus this year.
During his tenure, Peres was knighted by Queen Elizabeth II; conducted a historic speech in the German Bundestag on the 65th anniversary of the end of WWII; represented Israel at the opening ceremony of the Beijing Olympics; represented Israel at the U.N. General Assembly and the World Climate Conference in Copenhagen; and visited the CERN particle collider in Switzerland.
But he has not been without controversy. Only last week, Peres came under withering criticism from settlers after saying that the settlement enterprise “threatened the future of the Jewish state.”
Source: ISRAEL HAYOM