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The State of Israel will for ever support the wife and son of Lieutenant Commander (post-mortem) Stefan Claudiu Dragnea and will respect his memory, Israeli President Reuven Rivlin said on Thursday in a speech at the memorial dedicated to soldiers who died in the 2010 aviation tragedy in Bucegi Mountains.

A helicopter, two states, seven families and seven victims - their fate was tied up for eternity. (...) The six members of the Israeli forces' crews and the Romanian officer went out together on a mission from which they never returned. This was the beginning of a blessed collaboration with NATO states, which allowed our aviation to train in tough, complex terrain conditions, a collaboration between the Israeli and Romanian forces, between fighters who love their country and their people, dedicated to maintaining peace and national security, said President Reuven Rivlin, at the ceremony in the village of Simon, the County of Brasov.

He said, in context, that "the stable bilateral cooperation between Israel and Romania in the field of defence is particularly important for the regional security of the State of Israel".

Israel and Romania are friendly states and there have been diplomatic relations between them since the founding of the State in 1948, and they have never been interrupted, not even for a minute. Romania is a special ally. (...) It is a friendship, it is a true friendship, which begins with the history of Judaism in Romania and continues to this place today. (...) And I thank the Romanian authorities, the Romanian Air Forces, their commander for their support in continuing and building this cooperation so important to us, said the Israeli president.

The head of the State of Israel stressed that the best way to commemorate the heroes is to follow their example.

In his message on this occasion, the President of Romania, Klaus Iohannis, stressed, in turn, that the tragedy that took place 11 years ago "highlighted the strong connections between Romania and Israel", noting that one of the fallen Israeli soldiers comes from a "hard-pressed family in the great tragedy of the 20th century, the Holocaust" in Romania.

"On the frontispiece of the monument erected in memory of the seven heroes who have fallen in the mission it says so deeply and disturbingly that they were partners in the mission, in the joy of flying, in life and death. It is the testimony of the great price that our military pay to ensure the calm, security and peace of those who have placed their trust in them. Here, in front of the monument, the need to commit to continue and strengthen the excellent relations between our states in as many areas as possible becomes evident, taking into account the fact that the State of Israel is a partner of strategic interest for Romania," Iohannis said in the message read by State adviser Lieutenant-General Mihai Somordolea.

The Romanian president also welcomed the growing dialogue between Romania and Israel "given the fundamental traditional diplomatic cooperation on common strategic values and interests" and particularly appreciated the partnership in the field of security and defence, especially in the current security context, expressing his belief that "in the future we have significant potential for development in this area".

"Today's commemoration is a good opportunity to renew the decision to continue to act together to strengthen regional security, to protect the freedom of our children and citizens, but especially to build a world of peace and democracy, without discrimination, racism, anti-Semitism or xenophobia," the message from President Iohannis reads.

General Amikam Norkin, the head of the Israeli Air Force, said that from the tragedy in the Bucegi Mountains "all the lessons that could be learned were learned".

"The Israeli aviation has also changed as have the Yasur crews [the type of helicopter that was involved in the exercise in Bucegi Mountains, ed. n.]. We've drawn the lessons from everything we could to prevent such an accident from happening, and you, the bereaved families, have helped us in this process with humanity and responsibility," General Amikam Norkin said.

The President of the State of Israel, Reuven Rivlin, together with the heads of the Israeli and Romanian Air Forces, Generals Amikam Norkin and Viorel Pana, lit a memorial torch in honour of the seven heroes at the end of the ceremony. At the end of the military and religious ceremony, a wreath-laying took place from some institutions of the two states and the families of the dead soldiers. An IAR 330 Puma helicopter of the Romanian Air Force flew over the area.

The commemoration ceremony was attended by Romanian and Israeli officials, comrades and family members of fallen soldiers.AGERPRES(RO - author: Diana Dumitru, editor: Karina Olteanu; EN - author: Maria Voican, editor: Simona Iacob)

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