|October 21st, 2008||#1|
Join Date: Mar 2006
Location: JUDEAware, originally MassaJEWsetts
Albania - a new Israeli destination
Although a small country, Albania is strongly advocating prudence in international relations. It is clearly a pro-Western democracy, that seeks to join NATO and other Western European political structures, but it also manifests openness and willingness to cooperate with other countries of the world. Israel is undoubtedly a very important partner on the map.
And Albania is a country well worth visiting for Israelis, and well worth investing in.
Hospitality for guests in Albania is exceptional. There is no concept of "stranger" or "foreigner" in the case of Albanians. This is strongly based on Albanian customs, as well as on today's democratic values. This may also explain the development of strong feelings for Jews both in the past and present.
The visa exemption agreement between the Republic of Albania and the State of Israel, which came into effect on July 27, has marked a significant achievement, which is expected to further bolster bilateral relations.
Our countries belong to different regions and face different kind of problems. But this agreement will certainly strengthen economic and cultural ties, especially in the light of the commitment of the Albanian government and its citizens to a free and open society.
In fact, economic ties are already growing. Israeli companies are looking to invest in Albania - in real estate, the energy sector, construction, the fishing industry, etc.
The latest World Bank Doing Business Report, which presented rankings on the ease of doing business worldwide, showed Albania jumping from 136th place to 86th in one year. In protecting investment, Albania ranked 14th in the world. As that report underlined, starting a business has never been easier, and Albania has undertaken reforms in the areas of getting credit, taxation and simplified business regulations.
Albania's 450 kilometers of coastline offers a unique example of tourism development. Israeli tourists may also want to visit the synagogue in Saranda (in the south), and see how this country shines a light on Jewish history and how it respects human dignity.
It is in the tradition of Jews to look for new destinations. Albania is now a new European destination, a new passion for visitors and investors.
Israeli tourists will visit the country that saved the lives of every Jew during World War II, a strong advocate of the interests of Israel in various international organizations, a multi-religious society that represents a model of religious harmony and ecumenical relations, a would-be NATO member (in April next year), and an EU aspirer.
Come see for yourselves.
The writer is the Albanian ambassador to Israel.