By Jonathan Benedek
One of the many countries around the world with deep and personal ties with Israel is a Muslim majority country in Europe. The strong bilateral relationship was exhibited on Monday during Albanian Prime Minister Edi Rama’s meetings with Prime Minister Netanyahu and President Rivlin.
“We know that Albania is a good friend of Israel,” Prime Minister Netanyahu said to his Albanian counterpart. “We’re celebrating now 25 years of our relations.”
In particular, Netanyahu thanked Prime Minister Rama for his country’s support in an IAEA (International Atomic Energy Agency) vote on a resolution a few months ago that called on Israel to undergo international inspections of its nuclear facilities. The vote failed 61-43 with 33 abstentions.
Prime Minister Rama emphasized in his meeting with President Rivlin that both Israel and Albania face common security threats.
“We live in good times for our countries in the Balkans, in terms of cooperation and the spirit of relations, but we are still vulnerable due to the threat of radical Islam,” said Rama.
For his part, President Rivlin made it clear that Israel is not at war with Muslims. “Israel has no war with Islam,” stressed Rivlin. “We are at war with fundamentalism.”
Arguably, the most significant factor in the closeness of ties between both countries is Albania’s historic role in saving countless Jews from the Nazis during World War II.
“We know that the people of Albania are not merely good friends today of the people of Israel but in the crucial period of the Holocaust they stood shoulder to shoulder with the Jewish people persecuted in Europe,” noted Netanyahu during his press conference with Rama.
“I think Albania is the only country whose Jewish population during the Holocaust actually grew because of the refuge and the sanctuary and the friendship and courage showed by the people of Albania,” added Netanyahu. “We never forget our friends, and we appreciate that display of humanity, civility and courage in our darkest hours.”
The Albanian Prime Minister took the opportunity to invite Netanyahu to visit Albania and dedicate a new site currently being built to commemorate the heroism of both individual Albanians and the Albanian government.TPS / Tazpit News Agency