“Great Believer in People-to-People Relations”

Interview of the Ambassador of Israel to Albania, Noah Gal Gendler, with “Albanian Daily News” newspaper


By Genc Mlloja, Senior Diplomatic Editor of ADN

“I believe our past history speaks for itself. The great story of self-deprivation embedded in the Albanian code of Besa to save the Jews, is worth sharing on every occasion Albania-Israeli relations come to mind,” has said the Ambassador of Israel to Tirana, Noah Gal Gendler as the two countries have just marked their 30-year anniversary of establishing diplomatic relations. “We look back and appreciate the multitude of endeavors accomplished. Numerous agreements signed, high-level visits of dignitaries from both countries, artistic and cultural exchanges, trainings and workshops, just to mention a few,” said the Ambassador in an exclusive interview with Albanian Daily News.

In addition, the Israeli Ambassador revealed that they are always looking at the future positively and pragmatically, they are working on facilitating major Israeli investments. “There is interest from Israeli companies to invest in tourism resorts and residential areas. Agricultural Israeli companies are working on introducing modern agriculture to Albania, while giant ICT companies are considering Albania as ‘The Spot’ for building IT centers in the Balkans.”

Mr. Gendler noted that the esteem of each other by the two people is reciprocal, and he is a great believer in people-to-people relations, as this will serve them in the future on all aspects: business, culture, academy, health cooperation, tourism etc.

Asked about the cooperation between Israel and Albania in the frame of international organizations, particularly the UN as Albania will be a non- permanent member of the Security Council starting on January 1, 2022, the Ambassador considered that a great achievement for Albanian diplomacy. “We hope that Albania will join the USA and other countries in the UN Security Council in supporting Israel.”

Albanian Daily News: The commemorative atmosphere of the establishment of the diplomatic relations between Albania and Israel goes on, and it is an opportunity to express the wish for further strengthening of this historical bond. Please, Your Excellency, could you share the opinion of Israel on this relationship seen from the point of view of the past, present and the future?

Ambassador Noah Gal Gendler: I believe our past history speaks for itself. The great story of self-deprivation embedded in the Albanian code of Besa to save the Jews, is worth sharing on every occasion Albania-Israeli relations come to mind. As we just marked our 30-year anniversary of establishing diplomatic relations, we look back and appreciate the multitude of endeavors accomplished. Numerous agreements signed, high-level visits of dignitaries from both countries, artistic and cultural exchanges, trainings and workshops, just to mention a few.

Presently, we have experienced slow progress due to the pandemic effects. Some projects are pending in the pipeline as travelling has become a must-plan-well task. We are 100% present and working, online when necessary, maintaining ties with the government, linking businesses together and contributing where needed. Preliminary data indicate a great touristic season with many Israelis visiting Albania.

Always looking at the future positively and pragmatically, we are working on facilitating major Israeli investments. There is interest from Israeli companies to invest in tourism resorts and residential areas. Agricultural Israeli companies are working on introducing modern agriculture to Albania, while giant ICT companies are considering Albania as ‘The Spot’ for building IT centers in the Balkans.

– Both Albania and Israel have embassies in the respective countries, friendship parliamentary groups, and other institutions promoting the relationship. But what is, according to me, significantly important is the high esteem for Israeli people among Albanians. Mr. Gendler, are you satisfied with the aspect of the concrete multifaceted links and people-to-people exchanges between the two countries? 

– The esteem is reciprocal. I am a great believer in people-to-people relations, as this will serve us in the future on all aspects: business, culture, academy, health cooperation, tourism etc. Since the opening of the Israeli embassy in Albania, trade has increased, tourist numbers have soared, MASHAV has trained dozens of Albanian professionals, and Israeli experts have brought best Israeli practices to Albanian farmers. These are people helping people, concrete actions towards concrete staples.

– Mr. Ambassador, despite that time passes and new generations are born and grow up, everybody notices that your people and political class keep alive the history of the close links of ordinary Albanians with Israelis who came to this Balkan country during World War II. Which is the secret of maintaining and even strengthening the remembrance of that testing time, and how do the youth react towards it despite their young age? 

– This year we translated educational curriculum materials taught in Israeli high schools in order for them to be taught in Albania as well – thus any youngster in Albania will know this unique story. Our job is to educate the youth so they learn from the past. Education, culture, progress are key to abolish the deeds of ideologically regressive species from the minds of future generations.

We salute the Albanian government for their establishment efforts to build an Albanian Jewish museum in Vlora.

– I have had the privilege, Sir, of meeting Mr. Benjamin Netanyahu at the UN in New York in 1991 when he was Permanent Representative of Israel to the UN and the diplomatic relations were re-established. I am asking this question to learn from you how valuable is the cooperation between Israel and Albania in the frame of international organizations, particularly the UN as Albania will be a non- permanent member of the Security Council starting on January 1, 2022

– This is a great achievement for Albanian diplomacy. We hope that Albania will join the USA and other countries in the UN Security Council in supporting Israel.

– Let me touch upon the political situation in Israel. Which are the major topics of the agenda of a coalition government headed by Mr. Naftali Bennet and made up of 8 political parties, and does this mean any major changes to Mr. Netanyahu’s platform domestically and internationally?

– Any new government has different agenda but major tasks ahead are the same: internationally we need to block the Iranian brutal regime in his efforts to develop nuclear capabilities and long-range missiles.

Internally, we need to have a stable budget after 2 years of several rounds of general elections.

– As a follow up, Mr. Ambassador, the new government includes the Islamic party Ra’am representing Palestinian citizens of Israel. Do you think that this interesting development might bring any changes to the state of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, and secondly could it serve as an eventual possibility for a breakthrough to the animosity between the two people?   

– Ra’am joined the government in order to be part of the decision making process in Israel and not as an advocate of the Palestinian people.

The Abraham peace accords taught us that Arab-Israeli co-existence cannot be taken hostage by the Palestinians.

-With President Joe Biden at the White House does Israel feel comfortable and on the other hand, how would you assess the relations of Israel with the EU?  To what degree do the relations of Israel with the EU as a Union and separate member countries differ?

– In the recent years, we noticed that there are different streams within the EU towards Israel and we hope that the friendly approaches will gain more momentum. US is our greatest ally and supporter, nothing will change that.

– Let me conclude with Afghanistan, Mr. Ambassador. Which is the future stance of Israel regarding the latest unexpected developments in Kabul, and what is in stock for that country and people as well as for the region and beyond with the return of Taliban forces to power? 

– As a country that neither had diplomatic relations with Afghanistan nor enjoyed any official recognition, we hope that the Taliban onslaught of smiles is real.

If this is the case, we will begin seeing light at the end of the tunnel.

 

“Great Believer in People-to-People Relations”

Interview of the Ambassador of Israel to Albania, Noah Gal Gendler, with "Albanian Daily News" newspaper

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