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On June 15, 2022, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Vietnam coordinated with Lai Chau province and a number of Vietnamese representative agencies abroad to organize a webinar on "Strengthening the export of tea products of Lai Chau province to the markets of the Middle East, North Africa and South Asia”. At the Israel Bridge with the direct attendance of representatives of many agencies, organizations, businesses and expatriates, the Vietnamese Embassy in Israel combined to display a number of typical agricultural products of Vietnam, aiming to bring to the guests a space imbued with Vietnamese identity with practical, rich and diverse experiences, creating a lively atmosphere for discussion besides fragrant cups of Vietnamese tea.

On the same day, the Vietnamese Embassy in Israel hosted a seminar on promoting tourism and promoting trade in Vietnamese agricultural products. At the seminar, Ambassador Ly Duc Trung said that Vietnam currently has many potential gaps to receive investment and production. When coming to Vietnam, Israeli people and businesses can access a rich source of raw materials, imbued with Vietnamese identity in particular and Asia in general, on that basis, the Ambassador encourages travel businesses to organize group tours that take into account agricultural tourism, Israeli investors can also participate in enhancing the value of Vietnamese agricultural products, especially producing goods according to Jewish standards and tastes.

Ambassador Ly Duc Trung said that Israeli technology enterprises can also introduce advanced technologies and techniques to help improve the production capacity of Vietnamese agriculture from seeds, irrigation to harvesting and post-harvest preservation, while emphasizing that increasing the high-tech content also helps create added values and competitiveness for each product when exporting to regional and global markets.

Attending delegates expressed their desire to participate in enjoying cooperation opportunities between the two countries in the field of trade and tourism, emphasizing that Israelis are very eager to visit Vietnam when Vietnam has controlled the epidemic and reopens for international tourism.



credit: Silvia G. Golan
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The Embassy of the Philippines held the annual independence celebration on Sunday evening at the Sheraton hotel. This year’s event coincided with a visit to Israel by Minister of Trade and Industry, H.E. Mr. Lopez M. Ramon. Minister Ramon visited Israel for meetings with his Israeli counterparts, including signing a new bilateral economic agreement with Israeli Minister of Economy and Industry, Major General (Res.) Orna Barbibai. Minister Lopez signed further agreements with the Ministry of Finance to promote bilateral investments.

 Minister Barbibai noted that "The agreement on economic cooperation between the ministries is an important milestone in Israel's economic relations with the Philippines, a country of 110 million inhabitants with a warm and sympathetic attitude toward Israel. The mixed economic committee "Direct economic between the governments and thus will lead to the promotion of various issues and the solution of trade barriers. I am sure that the agreement signed today will lead to an increase in the volume of trade between the countries in the coming years and contribute to promoting Israeli exports to the Philippines and strengthening economic ties."

Although complete independence was only achieved about seventy years ago, the Independence celebration marks the initial  end of Spanish rule back on June 12, 1898, . This year’s party featured a buffet with traditional Filipino dishes, prepared specially for a kosher audience. The embassy staff and members of the Philippine community dressed in traditional clothing for the event.




Ambassador Mekirog Alberto delivered a patriotic greeting at the ceremony in which he thanked all the guests who came to celebrate his country's holiday. He noted that "the Philippines now has a new government, which will also continue the good old ties with Israel." The ambassador said that “Tonight we commemorate the Filipino heroes and their sacrifices” who made this event possible, and who “have inspired us to give our best to serve the Philippines and the Filipino people.


He also mentioned in his speech President Manuel Quezon, who during the Holocaust agreed to receive thousands of Jewish refugees in his country, while most other countries in the world closed their gates to Jews. The ambassador ended his speech with two sentences in the Hebrew language, and received applause from the audience. At the end of his speech, he invited those present to raise a glass of "Cheers!" In Hebrew.


Israeli Minister of Intelligence Elazar Stern spoke on behalf of the Israeli government. Stern noted that he has a personal history in common with the Philippine ambassador, who was also a former military man. Stern said he served in the military for 34 years, one year less than the ambassador, and that they both studied at the same U.S. military academy.


In attendance at the event were Ambassador H.E. Gil Haskel, chief of state protocol in the Israeli Ministry of Foreign Affairs; Mr. Boaz Waksman, Honorary Consul of Philippines to Israel and Chairman of Ophir Tours; Ambassador Rafael Harpaz, Deputy Director General Head Asia & Pacific Division at the Israeli MFA; Yaron Meir- Director of South East Asia Department at the Israeli MFA; Maor Ben Moshe- South East Asia Department Israel MFA; Nir Bazlan- Deputy of the Israeli ambassador in the Philippines; Ephraim Fortis and Ishay Buch: President & CEO and Commercial Manager Open Sky; Ron Doron Chairman Israel -Philippines Chamber of Commerce, and Franco Vella Sheraton Israel General Manager ;Shira Kesem Maor AgroStudies Head of International Relations Dept. and more...

Diplomacy.co.il wishes the embassy and people of the Philippines “Maligayang Araw ng Kalayaan” and best wishes on the national day celebration.


Steven Aiello
Photos credit: Silvia G. Golan
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The annual Africa Day party was held at the Ambassador of Nigeria’s residence on Tuesday evening, May 31st, with over two dozen embassies joining in a joint celebration of African cultural heritage, economic achievements and development, and cooperation.

The embassies and representatives of Angola, Cameroon, Congo DRC, Congo, Cote D’Ivoire, Egypt, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Ghana, Guinea Equatorial, Kenya, Morocco, Nigeria, South Africa, South Sudan, Tanzania, Rwanda, and Zambia hosted the joint celebration. Each country had a booth set up, featuring traditional food dishes for guests to sample.

The evening opened with the national anthems of Israel and the African Union. H.E. Mr. Jean-Pierre Biyiti Bi Essam, Ambassador of Cameroon and Dean of the African Ambassadors in Israel, then welcomed the guests on behalf of the African Group of Ambassadors in Israel. The ambassador noted that this year’s theme for the African Union is “Strengthening resilience in nutrition and food security on the African continent: Strengthening agro-food systems, health and social protection systems for the acceleration of human, social and economic capital development.” The ambassador also noted the forward-thinking perspective of the AU’s Agenda 2063, crafted to maximize the potential of the population on the continent, and in particular with well-nourished women and children.

Continuing on the theme, the ambassador pointed out the potential for growth that Africa presents, with the largest per capita youth demographic in the world, and arable land that is still underutilized as a source of continental and global food production. 


Turning to the connection with Israel, and the recent challenges of Covid-19, the ambassador noted with appreciation the “Brothers in Arms” campaign which ensured the rapid vaccination of diplomatic staff in Israel and their families, as well as the contribution of vaccines for the African football competition in Cameroon. Mentioning the highly successful Mashav program, as well as the visit by Israeli Prime Minister Bennett to Egypt in March 2022, by H.E. Felix Tshisekedi, President of the DRC to Israel, the current visit of the minister of foreign affairs of Togo to Israel, and other high level visits between Israel and the African nations, the ambassador saw signs of the strong relationship between Israel and African countries, and motivation to increase cooperation. 

The minister concluded by calling for a moment of silence in memory of those who lost their lives in all tragedies, including the recent spate of violence in Israel. He then called up Minister in the Department of Finance, H.E. Mr. Hamad Amar, to deliver remarks on behalf of the state of Israel.

Minister Hamad Amar spoke on behalf of the state of Israel. Minister Amar talked about the strong and growing ties between Israel and the African nations, the pinnacle of which was Israel’s acceptance last summer as an observer state in the African Union. The minister noted how the Mashav infrastructure for Israel-African cooperation was utilized to provide vaccines and other essential support during Covid 19. The minister called for increased partnership and diplomacy going forward.

H.E. Professor Robert Dussey, Minister of Foreign Affairs, Cooperation and African Integration of the Republic of Togo, as the guest of honor, spoke next. The minister talked about the strong potential that Africa represents to the world, of youth and growth. Focusing on the relationship with Israel, the minister noted that Israeli technological ingenuity was particularly suited for investment investing in African natural resources and human capital. The minister pointed out that 42 of the 54 AU member states already have representation in Israel, a further sign of the strong multilateral ties at play. Explaining that cooperation and peace were seen as priorities throughout Africa, the minister struck an optimistic note about the future of Africa-Israel ties. 

Minister Dussey then surprised the audience, by calling on members to sing the traditional “Shema Yisrael” prayer, before calling up Togolege-Israeli pop star Stephane Legar to the stage. Legar told the audience how he had grown up in the ideals of Africa-Israel partnership, and was honored to be joining the celebration.

After the speeches, a toast was raised to the good health of African and Israeli leaders, and growing cooperation between the respective countries. A giant cake in the shape of the African Union logo was cut. The guests continued to enjoy the diverse tastes of Africa, while musicians from different countries took the stage to entertain the audience.

Among the distinguished guests in attendance were H.E. Professor Robert Dussey, Minister of Foreign Affairs, Cooperation and African Integration of the Republic of Togo; Minister Hamad Amar of the Finance Ministry of Israel; H.E. Ambassador Gil Haskel, Chief of State Protocol for the Israeli Ministry of Foreign Affairs; Ambassador Iddo Moed, Head of the Burea for African Affairs at the MFA; David Freeman, Representative of the World Center of Bahai Faith in Jerusalem; Sheikh Muhammad Sharif Odeh, head of the Ahmadiyya Muslim community in Israel; Israeli-Togolese singer Stephane Legar; Ezi Rapaport, Founder and CEO of Empower Africa, and graphic designer Yael Krieger, as well as foreign diplomats in Israel, expats of the African member states, and Israelis with ties to the continent.

On the same day as the celebration in Israel, the “Israel in Africa” conference took place in Paris, including a recorded message from Alternate Prime Minister and Foreign Minister Yair Lapid in which he expressed that "Israel is back in Africa". Israel's relations with Africa have strengthened over the last few years with new diplomatic ties forming, as highlighted by achievement of observer status at the AU, as well as the recent appointment of an Israeli Ambassador to Chad for the first time in half a century.

Diplomacy.co.il congratulates the member nations of the African Union, and all of the embassies in Israel, on Africa Day 2022.

Steven Aiello
Photos credit: Myriam Dahan



Diplomats, Israeli government officials, Israelis of Swedish descent and key figures in the blossoming Israeli-Swedish cooperation in high-tech met on Monday in the house of the Ambassador of Sweden in Herzliya to celebrate the National Day of Sweden, and as such the nation of Sweden and all of its aspects – its people, its art, its music, and its food.

The National day of Sweden celebrates the birth of modern Sweden with the election of king Gustav Vasa in the 16th century, which set the stage for Sweden to emerge as an independent modern nation out of the Danish-dominated Kalmar Union.

Upon entering the Ambassador’s home, guests encountered a modern demonstration of Israeli-Swedish friendship and mutual innovation – a robotic arm, manufactured by the Swedish ABB corporation in Israel, lifting up the flag of Sweden on one side and the flag of Israel on the other.

The celebration was a delightfully Swedish affair – With ABBA music playing in the background throughout the evening, meatballs and Swedish cider served front and center, and flowers bearing the colors of the Swedish flag dotting the courtyard and parlor.

In his speech, Ambassador Erik Ullenhag spoke passionately about the war in Ukraine, and the need for ‘the free world’ to act in Ukraine’s defense – “Ukraine has the same colors on its flags as Sweden – Blue and Yellow; Ukraine has the same dreams, the same European values”. He urged the Ukrainian ambassador to Israel, Yevhen Korniichuk, to remind the Ukrainian people that they have friends in Tel Aviv. The distinguished ambassador moved on to speak of the deep commitment of Sweden to fight for equality – “When I celebrate the National day… I celebrate democracy, I celebrate diversity… We are striving to create a society where it doesn’t matter the color of your skin, it doesn’t matter if you believe in god or which god you believe in, it doesn’t matter who you love”.

Ullenhag also spoke of the deepening ties between Israel and Sweden – of the great cooperation between the Israeli and Swedish high-tech industries (pointing out that the Swedish innovation agency has only two foreign offices – one in Tel Aviv, and the other in Silicon Valley), of the recent visit of Swedish foreign minister Ann Linde to Israel (the first Ministerial visit to the country in 10 years) as well as the deeper cultural ties between the two countries, such as the 50,000 Swedish volunteers who immigrated to Kibbutzim in Israel’s infancy, whose descendants were also present this very evening. Ullenhag repeated his, and his country’s, stance on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, advocating for a peaceful two-state solution. He also condemned the recent terror attacks against Israelis last spring.

The Ambassador also reiterated his stance on Raul Wallenberg, whose life and work were celebrated last week (read about it here), and stressed the importance of battling antisemitism and racism wherever it may be.



Ullenhag’s speech was followed by a speech from the minister of Diaspora Affairs of Israel, Nachman Shai, who once again stressed the warming relations between Israel and Sweden, in the form of increasing diplomatic, cultural and economic cooperation, as well as wholeheartedly agreeing with Ullenhag’s position on interventionism in Ukraine. Shai praised the Swedish government’s uncompromising approach to combating antisemitism (including the adoption of the IHRA definition of antisemitism), which he witnessed firsthand at the Malmö International Forum on Holocaust Remembrance and Combating Antisemitism last year, and pointed out that his own family had been rescued from the brutality of the Nazi concentration camp by the Swedish-led ‘White Buses’ operation, which successfully rescued tens of thousands of Jews and other prisoners from Nazi Germany and transported them to safety in Sweden.

Shai also pointed out the partnership between Sweden and Israel, as well as Canada, in advancing women’s rights – through a joint event in the Israeli pavilion in the Dubai expo, and through cooperation in the Commission for Women’s rights in the UN.

The two speakers also praised the Israeli-Swedish cooperation in matters of Climate Change, with environmental minister of Israel Tamar Zandberg having represented the nation in last week’s Stockholm+50 climate convention.

Among the esteemed guests attending the national celebration were David Castel, honorary Consul of Sweden; Tali Eshkoli, Eurovision Israel producer; Nadav Tamir, Senior Advisor for foreign affairs in the Peres institute for Peace;  Roneh Aharon, CEO of ABB technologies (Israel Branch), who were responsible for the aforementioned robotic arm and Dotan Smith of the Israeli Immigration Authority.

Diplomacy.co.il congratulates the Embassy of Sweden on its national day and offers best wishes for peace and success.

Photos by Silvia G. Golan
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Festa Della Republica, Italy’s national day, was celebrated by the Italian embassy in Israel on Tuesday night, May 31, 2022. The celebration of the reforming of Italy as a republic in 1946 was hosted by H.E. Ambassador Sergio Barbanti and wife Letizia at the ambassador’s residence in Ramat Gan, with dinner and a beautiful jazz Concert. Italy's Republic Day commemorates the day in 1946 when Italians voted in favor of a republic and against the monarchy.

The formal part of the evening opened with the Italian and European Union anthems and finally - Hatikva, the Israeli national anthem. Ambassador Sergio Barbanti began his remarks by marking the importance of the friendship between Italy and Israel that began its way in 1949 when the first diplomatic relations took place. Moreover, the Ambassador mentioned the importance of the Jewish community in Italy and the Italian community in Israel as the “beating heart” of the relationships between Italy and Israel as both communities help the ambassador fulfill his purpose as the Ambassador of Italy in Israel.

Ambassador Barbanti spoke about the beauty of Israel as the holy land, the land where people who believe in monotheistic religions feel at home, the land where he feels at home, since the first moment he arrived.

Aside from the celebration of the 76th anniversary of Italy as a republic, it was important for Ambassador Sergio Barbanti to celebrate 100 years since the birth of Yitzhak Rabin. Ambassador Sergio Barbanti sees in Rabin many qualities that in his opinion are essential for every political leader everywhere in the world who are engaged in sustaining the respect of the rights of the people and the peaceful collective systems between nations.

Unfortunately, the war between Russia and Ukraine is distancing Rabins vision for a better world and reality, said Ambassador Sergio Barbanti. Moreover, the Ambassador talked about the close friendship between Italy and the Ukrainian people and leaders. Italy is doing what is possible to help the Ukrainian people and government and to stop the war, said Ambassador Sergio Barbanti.

Ambassador Sergio Barbanti expressed appreciation to Israel for sending a team of doctors to Italy to help Italy win Covid-19, save lives and make this event possible in real life, in Israel.

While the Ambassador and his family spent time in Israel, the Ambassador noticed the variety of people and the bright future of Israel that lies in the pursuit of peace and in sharing. Moreover, Israel's contribution to technology development is outstanding, and many countries in the world benefit from the technology that was developed in Israel, in health technology and agriculture, said Ambassador Sergio Barbanti.



Guest of honor was Israel's Minister of Justice Gideon Sa'ar who spoke on behalf of the Israeli government. Minister Sa’ar stated that “bilateral relations between Italy and Israel have been and continue to be among the closest Israel shares with any country. These relations are given expression in a wide variety of areas, including economics, trade, science, technology, security, culture and many more.”

The minister recalled the Israeli medical delegation from the Sheba Hospital who traveled to Piemonte region in December 2020 to help treat victims of COVID, and the more recent resumption of senior level delegation visits from Italy to Israel. These include visits by the Italian Minister of Tourism and the Minister of Economic Development, with the Italian Prime Minister, Mr. Mario Draghi, expected in the future.

Minister Sa’ar noted that Italy is a popular tourist destination for many Israelis, including the minister and his wife, who visited Rome just a few weeks ago. Thanking the Italian embassy in Israel and the Israeli embassy in Rome, Minister Sa’ar noted two key events held: an economic conference on the future of farming (Tech-Agriculture) in Napoli, with more than 100 Italian and Israeli companies participating, and the inauguration of a children’s playground in Rome named after former Israeli Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin. This was a gift from the State of Israel to the children of Rome in celebration of the 100th anniversary of the birth of Yitzhak Rabin. 

Following the speeches, a toast was held, and guests enjoyed dinner and a jazz concert featuring the finest Italian products. The Ambassadors’ residence was adorned with flags and flowers in tricolors, Italy’s national colors. The food stands included an Italian pasta stand, Italian pizza from a brick oven, Aperol spritz stand, award winning red wine, sparkling water from Italy, and an Italian Kinder stand with chocolate sweets. 

While the guests were eating and drinking, the band from Italy played amazing Italian music and original music. The great singer and songwriter Gaia Gentile performed with the amazing pianist and composer, Mirko Signorile and the last member of the band was the famous Jazz saxophone player and composer, Raffaele Casarano. 

The distinguished guest list included Gil Haskel, Chief of State Protocol at the Israeli Ministry of Foreign Affairs; Shmulik Bass, Political Advisor of the Minister of Justice; Oded Ben Hur, former Israeli ambassador to the Vatican; Uri Rothman, Director of the Middle East department; Matan Rotenberg, minister of Public Security; Members of the Accademia Italiana della Cucina, including Dr Cinzia Klein, head of the Accademia and Vice Delegate Ms. Sabrina Fadlun; Mr. Roberto della Rocca, the Vice President of Israel-Italy Commerce Chambre; Amir Halevi, Former Director General of the Ministry of Tourism and his wife; Israel World Diamond Exchange president- Boaz Moldavski and his wife Ayala.

Among the companies and businesses supporting the celebration were Cafe Landwer, Fiat, Illy, Aperol Spritz, Pasta Rummo, Ferrero, Wine Fantini and more.  

The festivities continued the next day, with live performances on the Tel Aviv beach, made available to the Israeli public

Diplomacy.co.il congratulates the Embassy of Italy, the Government and the people of Italy on his anniversary and offers best wishes for many years of success, growth, and strong bilateral relations.

Steven Aiello
Photos by Silvia G. Golan
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