Israel, Kosova and the Albanians: Diplomacy & Lobbying
Does Israel benefit a lot as well by this mutual recognition with Kosova? YES. – from Avni Dervishi, Advisor for European & Global Affairs
By Avni Dervishi
Advisor for European & Global Affairs
”Avni, please do not stop promoting cooperation between people in Europe and also the integration in the European Union, just as you have done until now. Look at me, the ones that allowed hatred to become their leadership, killed my family and more than 6 other millions and caused the second World War”.
These, were the words of Hédi Fried, a survival from the horror of the Holocaust. She told me this, since she and me were invited to talk in front of hundred students in Sweden, about the reasons WHY the European Union was created, something that Hédi Fried perfectly talked about, since she had her own sufferings as a starting point. While I did talk about WHY the European Union will get even stronger by making it possible for the Western Balkan countries to join. It was an honor and privilege to stand on the same stage with this icon of Humanity and goodness. In the honorable Hédi, I did see a part of my own mother, whereas their sufferings are connected in many ways, also both of them lost their fathers, cause they were killed by hate promoters during WW II.
1992 was the year when I was forced to leave Kosova in order to save my life and the very same year, on the refugee camp near the city of Malmo I did meet the Jews of that city that on volunteer basis did support the refugees from Kosova. For me, that was the beginning of a journey for democracy and Albanian-Jewish cooperation.
The start of my studies in European Political Sciences in Sweden 1997, did lead to start even my student diplomatic engagement for the freedom of Kosova and strengthening of democracy among the Albanians and Israel, the only democracy in the Middle East. Since I was one of the five students among 136 of them, that did get the right to have meetings with the ambassadors of the Eastern European countries and the ones that did belong to the former Soviet Union republics. The unstoppable engagement for peace and freedom of the Jewish-Americans the lioness Madeleine Albright and the congressman Tom Lantos, did motivate me even more to fight for justice & human rights. 1998-1999 while Genocide was commited against the Albanian people in Kosova and I was giving TV interviews in Sweden, I was also in touch with journalists and friends in Israel that told me that there was a pressure on the government of Israel from their own people to send military support to protect the Albanians. Why? Because, they did see themselves on the Albanians of Kosova.
2001 was the first time after the ethnic cleansing and genocide that was committed against the Albanians, that I could visit Kosova. Where, beside my work as peace capacity building analyst for United Nations (UN), I was also interested to find Jewish-Albanians links.
2004 when I did start my work in the Parliament of Sweden and I was elected MP in the regional parliament, the parliamentarian diplomacy and promotion of Israel and the fight against Anti-semitism alongside supporting Kosova and Albanians, became my reality. Well there I was on the board of the parliamentary friendship association with Knesset and the congress of the USA. Certainly meetings at the embassies of USA, Israel etc were part of that and I was always welcome to promote diplomatic cooperations, but also visit to Israel (Knesset, government, the political parties Likud, Kadima, Labour, Shinou etc), but also study visits in the defence industry of Israel and meetings with Israeli generals), Washington, Bucharest on a conference to oppose Anti-semitism in cooperation with OSCE (Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe)., Brussels and Paris with officials delegations, articles in newspapers in English and Swedish etc, were part of my activities, It is understandable also the cooperation with WJC and EFI (World Jewish Congress and European Friends of Israel) in the Parliament of Europe.Later on I did understand that there is Bet-Israel Kosova and I did meet with Flori Zevi and Ruzhdi Shkodra and I did try to encourage and support them. I want to thank them very much for all the invitations that they do send to me and I congratulate them for their activitities. Votim Demiri I did meet for the first time in Prishtina during the Israeli film week and it was a very pleasant meeting. The great work of Ines Demiri in USA deserves all the respect.
Also during 2001-2013 when I was working in the government of Kosova with diplomacy, I must say that I am grateful for the support that I did recieve to strengthen Kosova, from the only democracy in the Middle East-Israel. I am also proud that I did take the initiative to bring the International Center for Public Diplomacy from Herzliya, lead by Davidi Hermelin to Kosova, for the first time ever, on the occasion of the conference on Inter-Faith. As well as my suggestion to the government of Kosova that the names of IDF (Israeli Defence Forces), Hadassah Women Zionist Organisation and Israeli Aid Agency, be put on the gratitude wall that supported the freedom of Kosova, that the Ministry of Culture did place in Ulpiana part of Prishtina, near the high buildings compound.
Because, with this decision, not only with the Republic of Kosova, but with all the Albanians in South East Europe and among the Diasporas, Israel did automatically got more support. Albania, Montenegro and North Macedonia, today are candidate countries to join the European Union and in all of them Albanians are in the government and it is their support that is keeping these governments on the power and leading them. Kosova is being recognised as a potentional candidate to join the European Union and sooner of later, all these 4 states will become members of the European family. 4 secured votes in Brussels and UN in New York, does play a role on the international arena. The Diasporas with Albanian background does live in Western Europe and in those countries where we know that the Anti-Semitism is growing, the Albanian Diaspora in collaboration with the Jewish associations, can oppose this jointly. Also here with my wide networks, I can help a lot.
Regardless of age and how strong self-confidence a person does have, to visit Yad Vashem in Israel and not leave that building with tears on your eyes, is in deed impossible, This certainly is the case for Jewish people as well as for the Albanian people. The sufferings over the decades and centuries unites them even more. I hope that Kosova will open an educational museum centre just like Yad Vashem. I also hope that beside the embassy in the capital Jerusalem, a Kosovan consulate will be open in Haifa. This in order to increase the cooperation between the universities and research centres, IT centres there, with the youngest population in Europe – the Albanians.
Did you know that every year at least 8.5% of the state budget in Israel, goes to scientific research in the universities? Did you know that so far Israel has been awarded over 30 NOBEL prizes and the Jews in the world more than 40 of them? Why is this the case? Not, because of any other reasons, but due to the high level of knowledge & expertise. The Albanians of Kosova, Albania, Macedonia, Presheva Valley, Montenegro, in deed they can benefit everything by increasing their cooperation with Israel. There are hundreds of ways for the businesses, hospitals, tourism, education and fighting Anti-Semitism and there as initiatives as well. So, my friends, all of us together: LETS START WORKING IN ORDER TO INCREASE THE ALBANIAN-JEWISH COOPERATION IN ALL FIELDS.
Our Kosova, congratulations and good luck with the cooperation with Israel.
Diplomacy, when it is being practised toward the same aim, it can make miracles become reality.
ALL OF US TOGETHER, ALBANIANS AND JEWS, ALBANIAN-JEWISH, WE CAN MAKE MIRACLES.