The ceremony took place in the presence of Israel's ambassador to Cyprus, Mr. Michael Harari, and the ambassador of Cyprus to Israel, Mr. Demitrus Hatzigaro.
The Grove of the Nations is part of a unique project to preserve and develop the Jerusalem Forest. The grove was founded in 2003 as a joint project of KKL-JNF and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs as part of the "Olive Tree Route" to promote intercultural dialogue, agriculture and peace among the nations of the region. To date, 48 presidents and heads of state from all over the world have planted trees in the forest grove, including the Chancellor of Germany, Angela Merkel, the late president of Poland, Lech Kaczynski, the prime minister of Italy, Silvio Berluskoni, and also the secretary-general of the United Nations, Ban Ki-Moon, who in March, 2007, planted the first olive tree in the grove that was part of the worldwide "Green Belt" project to plant one billion trees that was announced by the United Nations as part of the fight against global warming.
"This is a very unique forest grove, and when heads of state come to Israel, we have an opportunity to suggest planting a tree to them," Stenzler said. "Israel loves Cyprus – a large island with wonderful people that you, Mr. President, represent. I would like to take this opportunity to thank you for the help you gave us last December during the forest fire. We at KKL-JNF, which is the largest Jewish green organization in the world, are grateful to you and your people."
Stenzler told the audience about KKL-JNF activities over the last 109 years: "Our founding father, Binyamin Ze'ev Herzl, was very disappointed during his first visit to the land of Israel. He had imagined Israel to be green and flowering, a land flowing with milk and honey. When he first arrived, he thought he had come to the wrong place. There were no trees or anything else here."
"110 years have passed since then, and in the meantime, KKL-JNF has planted over 240 million trees throughout Israel, from the north to the south. We are experts in afforestation in semi-arid regions. More than 70% of the area of the state of Israel is desert, and we literally accomplish miracles in them," Stenzler said. "After the world was taken aback by recent events in Japan, which served as a reminder of the tremendous power of the forces of nature, we must learn how we can work together with nature rather than against it. As the largest Jewish organization in the world involved with afforestation, global warming, water harvesting, desalination, sewage water recycling and many other ecological projects, we will be happy to cooperate with Cyprus on joint initiatives for everyone's benefit," he added.