Our Chairman, Robert Singer, was interviewed by Izraeli Sot, an online newspaper promoting Jewish-Israeli Affairs in Albania and Kosovo, to discuss Albanian-Israeli relations amid the 30th anniversary of the diplomatic ties between the two countries.
“The diplomatic relations between Israel and Albania were really only able to begin after the fall of the Iron Curtain in 1991. The establishment of diplomatic relations between our countries was directly contingent on Albanian sovereignty. In fact, bilateral relations started about four months after Albania became independent. The establishment of embassies within Tirana and Tel-Aviv should be seen as a homage to the Albanian values of hospitality and tolerance that the local Jews are all too familiar with. It is no secret that the Holocaust set precedence for Israel’s relations with Europe, which may be why our countries are so close, as Albania did not only protected Albanian Jews, but also those seeking refuge. Since that time, we’ve seen Albania support Israel extensively in the diplomatic field and the two countries have become significant partners in trade, security, energy and water. In addition, Israel even took in Albanian refugees during the Kosovo war and sent search and rescue personnel to Durrës in response to the 2019 earthquake.
Since the establishment of the Center for Jewish Impact, I’ve made it a point of promoting relations between Israel and Albania. When we decided to launch the Balkans Forum Against Antisemitism, in the partnership with Combat Antisemitism Movement (CAM) and Albania, as well as the leadership role it took, was natural given their prominent role in protecting Jews during WWII, as well as the bilateral relations it holds with Israel today. The support we got in Albania for the Forum as well as the adoption of the IHRA definition by the Parliament was bipartisan and widespread. When considering the recent rise in antisemitic incidents in North America and Western Europe, Albania standouts as an example for those countries plagued by antisemitism, especially when considering that we are talking about a cultural Muslim majority country.
However, despite all this, cultural and people-to-people exchanges between our countries have still been insufficient. So, to remedy this, the Center has taken steps to promote diplomatic and cultural exchanges between Israel and Albania. As such, we initiated the academic agreement between Bar-Ilan University and the University of Tirana, focusing on scientific research and training, in hopes that it will lead to joint international scientific activities, so as to facilitate ground-breaking opportunities for the benefit of the faculty and student body of both Universities.
I regard the academic agreement between Bar-Ilan University and the University of Tirana as a rejuvenation of an important but overlooked friendship between our countries, destined to become more vibrant as time passes. As Chairman of the Center for Jewish Impact, I’ve made it my mission to bring our countries closer together and I have many Israeli and Albanian friends joining me in this effort.”
These positive developments and others are also the results of close cooperation and relations with the Embassy of Albania in Israel and Valentina Leskaj, former Albanian executive and current Board Member of the Combat Anti-Semitism Movement