The ceremony's organizers urged Samaras to honor the occasion. When he was offered to put on a hat instead of a yarmulke, he still declined, and finally laid a wreath bareheaded.
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It is rare for distinguished foreign guests to take such a stance: Nevertheless, in 2005, Turkish Prime Minister Erdogan acted in a similar manner. Former French President Jacques Chirac also refused to wear a yarmulke, however settled for a hat.
Israeli officials were surprised by Samaras' persistent refusal, since he is considered a friendly foreign leader who is leading a fierce policy against neo-Nazis in Greece, as well as against anti-Semitism and racism in general.
Yad Vashem said in response: "Guests are asked to cover their heads only when visiting the Yizkor tent, where ashes of the (concentration) camps' victims lay. Yad Vashem regrets (that Greece's PM refused to wear a yarmulke), but that was his decision."
Samaras is visiting Israel together with eight Greek ministers in charge of foreign affairs, internal security, energy, education, culture, tourism, shipping and development ministers. During his visit, 10 agreements were signed between Israel in Greece in the above fields.
Menachem Gantz contributed to this report
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