30 years of excellent Albania-Israel diplomatic relations

Today marks 30 years since the establishment of diplomatic relations between Albania and Israel, on August 19, 1991.

By Dash Frashëri

Albania and Israel today celebrate the 30th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic relations, which date back to August 19, 1991, with the signing in Israel of a Memorandum of Understanding for the establishment of diplomatic relations, when the then Minister of Foreign Affairs, Muhamed Kapllani visited Israel.

Albanians and Jews have a centuries-old coexistence relationship between them in Albania, but also a glorious history during the Second World War, with the shelter and rescue not only of those living in Albania, about 200 Jews, but also of the ten who came from other countries. other, over 2000.

At the end of World War II, Albania was the only country where the number of Jews after the war was greater than before it began, making it famous all over the world, and gaining the historical respect of the Jews.

In fact, Albania and Israel have experienced two completely opposite periods in their geopolitical and diplomatic relations.

The first is defined by the rejection policy of the communist regime in the years 1948-1990 and, the second, that after the 1990s, which coincides with the benevolent attitude of the Albanian state.

Albania officially recognized the State of Israel on April 16, 1949, just 11 months after the creation of the State of Israel, on May 14, 1948, but then, the policy of the communist leader Enver Hoxha was not at all benevolent towards the Jewish state, being closer to other Middle Eastern countries and rejected some Israeli diplomatic attempts towards improving and establishing relations.

The first signal of a change in Albania’s policy towards Israel was a conversation initiated by Albania’s ambassador to Rome, Dashnor Dervishi, with his Israeli counterpart, Mordechai Drori, in mid-May 1990.

On March 16, 1991 in Rome, a meeting between the Albanian ambassador to Italy, Dashnor Dervishi, and his Israeli counterpart, Mordechai Drori, crystallized the geopolitical future between the two countries.

Dervishi informed Drori that the Albania-Israel Friendship Association had been established in Albania, and invited him to be a “special friend” at its inauguration in April 1991.

On July 19, 1991, Drori visited Albania and met with the then Albanian Foreign Minister, Muhamet Kapllani, to whom he handed over the invitation of the Israeli Foreign Minister, David Levy.

On August 19, 1991, Foreign Minister Mohamed Kapllani visited Israel and the two countries signed a Memorandum of Understanding on the Establishment of Diplomatic Relations.

The Israeli Ministry of Foreign Affairs proposed that 25 Albanian students participate in courses organized by the International Cooperation Department of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

In mid-1998, the Nano Government decided to open a permanent headquarters for the Albanian Embassy in Israel. Albania’s first ambassador to Israel was Dashnor Dervishi.

Israel’s ambassador to Rome, Avi Panzer, was also the first non-resident ambassador to Albania. He was followed by Amira Arnon, Irit Ben-Aba, Ehud Gol and David Cohen.

The Permanent Embassy of Israel in Tirana was opened in August 2012. The first resident Israeli Ambassador to Albania is David Cohen (2012-2015), followed by Boaz Rodkin (April 2015-2019) and the current one, Noah Gal Gendler (from August 2019).

The Ambassadors of Albania in Israel are: Dashnor Dervishi, Bashkim Dino, Tonin Gjuraj, Qirjako Kureta (Charge d’Affaires), Bujar Skendo and Bardhyl Canaj (in office, from 2015).

There are some honorary consuls of Albania in Israel and they are Israeli citizens: Rafael Faust, Menashe Getz (consulate in Eilat), Avraham Rinot (consulate in Haifa).

Honorary consuls of Israel in Albania have been or are: Bardhyl Canaj, Rodolf Xhillari (in office).

The Albania-Israel Parliamentary Friendship Group has also been set up in the Albanian Parliament, with the current chairwoman being the Socialist Party MP, Blerina Gjylameti.

In Albania, since 1991, the Albania-Israel Friendship Association has been established, with Petrit Zorba as president, while in Israel, the Israel-Albania Friendship Association is headed by Felicita Jakoel, and is very active. Geront Kureta is the president of the Jewish community in Albania.

Israel has been visited by the highest political authorities in Albania, Presidents Bamir Topi, Bujar Nishani and Ilir Meta, as well as former Prime Ministers Fatos Nano and Sali Berisha, as well as the current Prime Minister, Edi Rama.

Many Albanian ministers or heads of institutions have visited Israel, signing a large number of agreements of mutual interest, the latest being the Convention on the Avoidance of Double Taxation and Evasion between the two countries, will help encourage mutual investment and lead growing Israeli economic activity in Albania.

The Albanian Parliament, in partnership with the Movement Against Anti-Semitism and the Agency for Jews of Israel, organized on October 28, 2020, the first Balkan Forum Against Anti-Semitism, 2020. The forum was held online. The forum took place after the adoption of the Resolution “On the adoption of the usable definition of anti-Semitism, defined by the International Alliance for the Remembrance of the Holocaust”, in the plenary session of October 22, 2020. Former Minister Valentina Leskaj is a member of the Advisory Board of the Movement Against Anti -Semitism (CAM)

The Embassy of Albania in Izael plays an important role in strengthening bilateral relations, the Ambassador of Albania in Israel, Dr. Bardhyl Canaj, regularly holds working meetings with the highest authorities in Israel, including with the former head of the Jewish Agency, Isaac Herzog (today the President of Israel), Robert Singer, the chairman of the Center of Jewish Impact, Avital Leibovich, director of the Israel branch of the American Jewish Committee, & c.

The same active role is played by the Israeli Embassy in Albania, including contributions by investing in projects of a social nature.

One of the most significant moments of the Israeli contribution to Albania is the arrival of a group of experts in assessing the damage to buildings caused by the November 26 earthquake, led by Colonel Golan Vach.

The Israeli media constantly write about Albania, especially the tourist one. The Israeli journalist, Benny Ziffer, of the well-known newspaper “Haaretz”, visited Albania, with the aim of portraying Albanian history, art, life and cuisine in a series of articles.

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