Chilean National Day and Army Day are normally celebrated the 18th and 19th of September, respectively. However, the official reception to celebrate the dates in Israel was held back by the Chilean Embassy to accommodate the arrival of the 21 sail navy ship to the Port of Haifa, giving everyone an opportunity to share the experience of visiting the Latin American country's vessel as well as an important part of its culture. For this purpose, the ship remained open for public visits during its stay in Haifa. The Esmeralda Training Ship is used by the Chilean Navy to enhance professional training of its future officers and Non Commissioned Officers; it has sailed 30 thousand nautical miles for nearly 9 months and will conclude its second tour around the world in January of 2013. Captain Guillermo Luttges addressed the audience with a warm welcome onboard the "White Lady". The Commanding Officer spoke of the training ship's world tour that departed from Valparaiso last April, marking the 57th training cruise. It is the sixth time the ship has visited Israel, which shows the commitment of Chile towards fostering relations with the people and institutions of Israel.
Throughout the reception there was a constant respectful remembrance of late Ambassador Joaquin Montes, who passed away in August. His work was of great importance to the strengthening of relations between Chile and Israel.
During his speech, the Charge des Affaires of the Chilean Embassy, Mr. Oscar Alcaman told the audience that, in its 202 years of independence, Chile has grown to become a mature country with solid institutions. "Our recent history has taught us the importance of fundamental values as democracy, tolerance and human rights. And today, in this unpredictable world, we must preserve these assets, which must guide our domestic and international action." he added.
In 1949, Chile recognized the State of Israel and since then both countries have shared a positive relationship based on common principles and values, explained Mr. Alcaman. Chile has worked to enhance and strengthen its bonds with Israel by means of cooperation as can be attested by the two important agreements signed in 2011, one in the field of Cultural, Educational and Scientific Cooperation and another on Triangular and South/South Cooperation. Mr. Alcaman stressed that the presidential visit in 2011 boosted bilateral relations between both countries, promoting further events such as the visit to Israel, of the Minister of Defence; the visits of Chilean leaders (Congressmen, governmental and regional authorities and academics); the consistent participation of Chilean fellows in training courses organized by Mashav; the visit in March of this year of the Chilean General Comptroller and the visit in August of the Commander-in-Chief of the Chilean Army.
However, there are still important challenges, such as the increment of commercial exchange, as well as further collaboration in technological and scientific areas, argued the Chilean Charges des Affaires, ending his speech toasting to friendship between Chile and Israel, to the continuous advancement of their mutual relationship and to the anniversary of Chile's Independence and Army Day.
At the podium, Minister of the state of Israel, Mr. Ze'ev Benjamin Begin congratulated the people of Chile on behalf of the Government and people of Israel on their day of Independence.
The Minister expressed that it is in Israel's interest to continue bilateral cooperation in all possible spheres. This, he said, can be shown by the recent visit the Israeli delegation concluded to Chile, where the representatives of various emergency authorities learned from the South American country's experience in preparedness for emergencies.
The Israeli Minister also detailed on the efforts taken towards strengthening cooperation by highlighting last year's visit of Chile's President Sabastián Piñera, with his Foreign Minister, Economic Minister, and other top officials to Israel. "The Jewish community is very involved in many areas of Chile's society, and acts as a bridge between Chile and Israel. Many Israelis originated in that community and they maintain warm contacts with their native country" said Mr. Begin.
On the account of trade, the Minister added that "Israel and Chile have strong economies and are members in good standing of the OECD. The volume of trade between our countries is commendable and we hope that it will significantly increase in the near future". Consequently, Israel looks forward to the conclusion of a Free Trade Area Agreement between both countries which would further advance commercial ties between Chile and Israel.
Bilateral relations with Chile will without doubt find expression in the positions that Chile takes in multilateral and international ground "especially in view of ill winds (if I may use this expression on board of the Esmeralda) that blow in our region." Assured Mr. Begin.
Raising a traditional toast, the Israeli Minister said in Spanish "I shall finish, dear friends, by expressing my best wishes for the future of the Republic of Chile, its prosperity and success, and to the continuity of our friendship and good relations between Chile and Israel in the years to come.".
After the amicable toast, the Music Band of "Esmeralda" performed an interpretation of the National Anthems of Chile and Israel, respectively. Guests were encouraged to tour the ship, creating and environment of extensive interaction among visitors and officials from various countries. While an assortment of typical Chilean food and wine were served, the music band performed a concert of Chilean traditional music bringing the evening to and end.