- Written by Steven Aiello
Capital Day came early in Tel Aviv, as the Embassy of Kazakhstan to Israel held a reception at the residence of Ambassador Doulat Kuanyshev in Herzliya. Capital City Day is an annual celebration of the establishment of the status of Astana as the new capital city of Kazakhstan. For the last decade, the occasion has been celebrated as a national holiday in Kazakhstan and among Kazakhstan nationals and friends abroad. This year was a milestone anniversary, marking 20 years since the capital first from moved from Almaty.
Diplomats, political and civil society leaders, and others with close ties to Kazakhstan enjoyed a relaxed evening with music, a buffet including traditional Kazakstani dishes like Samsa and Palot, along with top Israeli products.
H.E. Ambassador Kuanyshev spoke about the initial struggles to move the capital city in the 1990s, and about Astana’s success as representative of Kazakhstan’s innovation, growth, and success other the last two decades. The ambassador promised that this growth would continue, citing as an example the Astana International Finance Center as a potential regional hub.
Ambassador Kuanyshev also cited the role that Astana has already played in promoting global peace and prosperity. Astana has hosted a number of historic conferences: OSCE summit; Shanghai Cooperation Organization summit, the first summit of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation on Science and Technologies, and the World Expo-2017, as well as the signing of the Treaty on establishing the Eurasian Economic Union.
Among the distinguished guests at the reception were Walter Bingham, Guiness World Record-holding Israel National Radio host; Alexander Ben Zvi- Deputy Director General, Head of the Euro-Asia Division at the Israeli Ministry of Foreign Affairs; former Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert, Yair Stern, General Director of the Jerusalem Symphony Orchestra, and his wife Dassie, who was born in Kazakhstan.
Diplomacy.co.il congratulates the Embassy of Kazakhstan and the people of Kazakhstan on the milestone anniversary and offers best wishes for many years of success, growth, and strong bilateral relations.
Ambassador Kuanyshev’s full remarks:
Ladies and Gentlemen,
Thank you for honoring us with your gracious presence. We are here to mark the 20th anniversary of the Сapital city of Kazakhstan – Astana.
In 1995, when Kazakhstan was under IMF program, IMF mission was pressing President Nazarbayev to postpone all the plans of moving the capital citing huge economic burden. I was present at those highly confidential and heated negotiations in my capacity of the press-secretary to the President who stood firm.
Over these two decades, extensive efforts have been done to build a new capital almost from scratch. Nowadays, Astana is the symbol of Kazakhstan and the flagship of its development.
Astana’s become an urbanization of over a million of people, a model of modern architecture and design, center of healthcare, education and innovations. Moreover, it aims to become the Dubai of Central Asia by creating Astana International Financial Center.
It is our hope, and Astana hosts a lot of hope: from large-scale development initiatives: the Silk Road Economic Belt was announced by Chinese leader Xi Jinping’s on his state visit to Astana in 2013, to world peace and accord – through the religious leaders (including Chief Rabbis of Israel) regularly meeting in Astana to promote inter-confessional dialogue, to a hope of mediating Syrian talks.
During these years Astana hosted the Summit of the OSCE, the historic Summit of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization, which culminated with the accession of India and Pakistan into this influential organization, the first summit of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation on Science and Technologies. The Treaty on establishing the Eurasian Economic Union was also signed in Astana.
In 2017, Astana hosted World EXPO-2017 exhibition, with high-profile Israeli presence.
As you may know, Israelis as well as citizens of 66 other countries can visit Kazakhstan without visas. We hope to sign the same regime for Kazakh tourists to Israel by the end of this year. I am confident it will imminently call for direct flights between our countries to boost reciprocal tourism and exchanges. So, taking this opportunity, I would like to invite you all to our country to taste our hospitality and kindness, and join the large-scale celebration events to be held in Astana on July 6.
- Written by Steven Aiello
Embassy of Slovenia Celebrates its National Day with an Exclusive Panel and Exhibition at the Diaspora Museum
The Embassy of Slovenia in Israel celebrated its national day in fitting fashion, with a celebration in the Beit Hatfutzot Museum which included a special panel and exhibition.
The event highlighted Jewish history of Slovenia, as well as the strong cooperation between Israel and Slovenia at the governmental and cultural levels. Several ministries within the Slovenian government supported the event, along with the Milko Kos historical institute, the Center of Jewish Cultural Heritage Synagogue in Maribor, and of course Israel Beit Hatfuzot Museum (the museum of the Diaspora).
During the panel, Slovenian researchers and historians Dr. Renato Podbersič and Prof. Boris Hajdinjak discussed the Jewish presence in Slovenia throughout history, with a focus on World War I. Prof. Hajdinjak talked about the importance of Maribor for Jews, as a key point between Vienna and Venice. Dr. Podbersič’s remarks were on the exhibition, which highlights the experience of Jewish soldiers of the Austro-Hungarian army who fought on the Isonzo front during World War I. The panel was moderated by editor, historian, and journalist Mr. Oren Nahari.
The evening was about more than just history, however, with a focus on bilateral cooperation and friendship in the present, and an even greater focus on the future. The Embassy of Slovenia marked, in particular, the recent World Bee Day on May 20th, as a Slovenian-led effort at the United Nation to recognize the importance of bees to nature and humanity.
Ambassador Sušnik opened her remarks first by offering congratulations for the 70th anniversary of the State of Israel and for Israel’s multifaceted successes. The ambassador noted recent achievements in bilateral relations between in Israel and Slovenia, particularly in tourism, economy, cultural exchange and scientific cooperation.
Invoking the fundamental belief in the right to self-determination of every nation, which underpins the Slovenian proclamation of independence and the Slovenian national anthem, the ambassador expressed the support of Slovenia for Israel, as well as efforts to establish peace and stability in the Middle East through a negotiated two-state solution. Ambassador Sušnik noted that Slovenia condemns recent attacks on Israeli territories, but is also concerned each time civilians are killed.
Michael Oren, the Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs spoke on behalf of Israel. Deputy Minister Oren remarked on the commonalities between Israel and Slovenia -- similar geographic size, liberal democratic governance, preservation of ancient cultures and languages. Recognizing Slovenia’s initiative in pioneering World Bee Day, Oren pointed out that Israel also shared this concern for sustainability.
The deputy minister observed that Slovenia’s Port of Koper was Israel’s entry point for exports to central Europe and that Israeli tourism to Slovenia continues to rise. He expressed his hope that Israel would open an embassy in Slovenia soon. Oren finished by thanking Ambassador Susnik and her staff for their work to promote bilateral relations and wishing peace, security, prosperity, and success to the nation of Slovenia on this important occasion.
Following the speeches, the jazz band of Gašper Bertoncelj, a Slovenian jazz musician, performed the national anthems of Slovenia and Israel. Guests then enjoyed a reception in honor of Slovenia’s national day.
The distinguished guests in attendance included Josef and Anita Weiss, owners of Adria Airways; Meron Reuben, chief of state protocol in the Israeli Ministry of Foreign Affairs; Adi Rosenfeld, Honorary Consul of Slovenia; Myron ReDror Dotan, President of the Israel-Slovenia Chamber of Commerce; Israeli Ambassador Eyal Sela; Ambassador Dr. Rodika Radian-Gordon ; Conductor Ronen Nissan, and Jazz musician Gasper Bertoncelj.
Diplomacy.co.il wishes the Embassy of Slovenia and the people of Slovenia congratulations on their national day, and hopes for many more years of success.
- Written by Steven Aiello
The Italian Embassy in Israel opened its annual Festa Della Repubblica celebration with a gala evening at the Ambassador’s residence in the Tel Aviv suburb of Ramat Gan. World class jazz music by Italian performers and a menu featuring pasta, pizza, gelato, and imported Italian chocolates, cheeses, and wines were enjoyed by a diverse guest list.
The Ambassadors’ residence was adorned in Italy’s national colors, with flags and banners, and as the sun set, red, white and green colored lights. After ample time to enjoy the reception, elegant music, and ambiance, Mr. Massimo Sarti, the Director of the Tel Aviv branch of the Italian Institute, opened the ceremony, welcoming the distinguished guests before calling on the Ambassador, H.E. Mr. Gianluigi Benedetti to make his formal remarks.
Ambassador Benedetti began by noting that both the modern states of Israel and Italy shared the distinction of being founded in the ashes of World War II, and on bedrocks of much older cultural and historical roots. In that regard, this was a joint celebration of 70 years of impressive achievements on a range of fronts: economic; technological; cultural; social.
The ambassador remarked on the contributions of Jewish Italians to the success of Italy. He thanked particularly those who had fought the Nazis as part of the Jewish Brigade, who were recently awarded the Medaglia d’Oro al Valor Militare by the Italian Parliament.
Moving on to modern geopolitics, the ambassador stressed Italy’s role in the European Union, its status as the third largest economy in the Eurozone, and 8th largest in the world. Ambassador Benedetti pointed out that Italy is a great place to live as well, ranked the healthiest in the world by the Bloomberg Global Health Index.
Ambassador Benedetti mentioned that Italy and Italians have also contributed to Israel’s success in a variety of areas, from helping develop drip irrigation technology, to serving in UN missions on Israel’s borders. Israeli-Italian cooperation ranges from trade to culture, to defense, with the most recent high profile example being the Giro d’Italia biking competition that incorporated an Israeli route for the first time.
Yuval Steinitz, the Israeli Minister of National Infrastructure, Energy and Water Resources, spoke on behalf of the Israeli government. Offering his congratulations, Minister Steinitz remarked on the long history of the Jewish community in Italy, as well as the current strength of Israeli-Italian relations. He singled out two prominent examples of bilateral cooperation. Firstly, the use of Italian training jets by the Israeli air force shows the great trust that Israel has in Italy and Italian technological innovation. Secondly, the still in the development plan to construct a Mediterranean pipeline transporting gas from Israel to Italy, that would eventually be the world’s longest.
After hearing the national anthems of both countries, guests continued to enjoy the Italian cuisine and live music performed by the Saxophone Ensemble of the National Jazz Orchestra of the Italian conservatories together with guest pianist Danilo Rea. Alitalia, Italy’s national airline and one of the evening’s sponsors, raffled off several airline tickets. On their way out guests also received candy decoratively arranged in the form of a red, white, and green flower. The festivities would continue the next day, with live performances by the Saxophone Ensemble of the National Jazz Orchestra on the Tel Aviv beach, made available to the Israeli public.
The annual Festa Della Reppublica celebration was executed by Yahav Sadan Concept events, and included Italian sponsors such as: Alitalia; Alfa Romeo; Alma Aviva; Arte Glideria; Elt; Ferrero Rocher; Hakerem; Italian Aperol; Iveco; Lualdi; Monini; Nutella; Petti; Piaggio; Rummo; Scavolini; Sparkle, and Torteroloere. The distinguished guest list of diplomats, business, political, civil society, and religious leaders, and Italian expatriates and others with Italian ties included Massimiliano Guido, the head of the Italian Trade Agency; Alon Netah, Alitalia country manager for Israel; Dr. Cinzia Klein, the president of the Israeli branch of the Italian Academy of Cuisine, and Vice Delegate Sabrina Fadlun;
Diplomacy.co.il wishes the Italian Embassy congratulations on Festa Della Reppublica
Photos by Silvia G. Golan
- Written by Steven Aiello
120 was the magic number on Tuesday evening June 5th, as the Embassy of the Philippines in Israel celebrated 120 years of national independence. Authentic cuisine from the Philippines added a special flavor to the evening, while top Filipino singers provided musical entertainment. Guests were escorted by embassy staff in traditional clothing past a colorful array of photographs of the Philippines, adding a visual connection.
After the singing of both countries’ national anthems, H.E. Ambassador Nathaniel Imperial opened his remarks with a greeting to the distinguished guests on this festive anniversary, invoking the ethos of the foreign policy of the Philippines: “friends to all and enemies to none.” Ambassador Imperial explained that in addition to its dedication to the regional ASEAN alliance, the Philippines continues to promote foreign relations with countries all over the world, paving the way for several new embassies and consulates. This includes a consulate opening in West Jerusalem under the leadership of honorary consul Mr. Shimon Weinbaum.
Ambassador Imperial spoke of how the courageous saving of Jews during the Holocaust, and subsequent vote for the 1947 Partition Plan, set the tone for future relations with Israel. Today that goodwill has been transformed into robust trade, labor, and tourism cooperation between the two nations. Ambassador Imperial cited recent delegations of business leaders from the Philippines and sponsorship in the annual International Mediterranean Tourism Market conference as examples of these burgeoning relationships and expressed hope that direct flights between Israel and the Philippines are on the horizon.
Ambassador Imperial described how the two countries already happen one another, with 24,000 Filipino residents working as caregivers all around Israel, and the Mashav program providing training for hundreds of agricultural students from the Philippines each year. He also mentioned a partnership with the Bialik Rogozin school in Tel Aviv to provide language, culture, and history classes for Filipino students who have been born or lived for significant periods of their lives in Israel.
Meron Reuben, chief of state protocol in the Israeli Ministry of Foreign Affairs, spoke on behalf of the Israeli government. Reuben noted that in addition to 120 years, the two nations were celebrating 60 years of diplomatic relations. He also expressed hope for continued agricultural cooperation and thanked the thousands of caretakers from the Philippines for working hard to take care of the elderly in Israel.
Ambassador Imperial and Mr. Reuben raised a toast to the well-being of both nations. Ambassador Imperial then brought out a plaque of gratitude, which he bestowed upon the Honorary Consul in Haifa, Mr. Carmel Hacohen. The text of the commendation read:
“THE GOVERNMENT OF THE REPUBLIC OF THE PHILIPPINES HEREBY AWARDS THIS COMMENDATION TO MR. CARMEL HACOHEN, IN RECOGNITION OF HIS EXEMPLARY AND HIGHLY MERITORIOUS SERVICE AS CONSUL GENERAL, AD HONOREM, OF THE PHILIPPINES, IN HAIFA AND NORTHERN ISRAEL.
IN HIS OVER 25 YEARS OF DEDICATED AND LOYAL SERVICE, HE HAS DISCHARGED HIS DUTIES WITH DISTINCTION AND HAS BROUGHT GREAT HONOR AND RESPECT TO THE PHILIPPINES AND ITS PEOPLE BY BUILDING MANY BRIDGES OF FRIENDSHIP AND COOPERATION BETWEEN FILIPINOS AND ISRAELIS.
GIVEN THIS 5TH DAY OF JUNE 2018 AND SIGNED, ALAN PETER S. CAYETANO, SECRETARY OF FOREIGN AFFAIRS.”
The guests then heard live performances by Mr. Howie Danao, a finalist on the program “Israel’s Next Rising Star” and well-known pop singer Mr. Rannie Raymundo, as they enjoyed a full dinner menu including delicacies from the Philippines, like Batchoy.
The distinguished guests in attendance included Menashe Bar-On, former Israeli Ambassador to the Philippines; Dr. Eli Fischer, CEO of the Dr. Fischer Group; Mr. Boaz Waksman, chairman of Ophir Tours Ltd.; the honorary consul of Haifa; Rafael Harpaz; director of the Europe-Asia department of the Israeli Ministry of Foreign Affairs; Arye Granot, merger and acquisitions manager at Diesenhaus, along with numerous diplomats and other dignitaries.
Diplomacy.co.il wishes the Embassy of the Philippines and the people of the Philippines congratulations on the 120-year celebration, and hopes for many more years of success.
- Written by Jonathan Danilowitz
It was 55 years ago (on the 25th May 1963 to be exact) that the then-named Organization of African Unity (OAU) was founded in Addis Ababa, capital of Ethiopia, at a meeting of African leaders. The OAU subsequently became the African Union (AU), but it is interesting to note that all this was preceded exactly 60 years ago at the First Congress of Independent African States, in Accra, Ghana. That pan-African meeting laid the foundation of the OAU.
Last Thursday evening a gala reception to celebrate Africa Day was held at the Kfar Shmaryahu residence of the Nigerian Ambassador to Israel H.E. Mr. Enoch Pear Duchi. Fifteen countries with diplomatic ties to Israel jointly hosted the lavish event. Flags of all the countries vied for attention, as did the colorful national dress of many of the diplomats and of their spouses. Cocktails and snacks were offered as the arriving guests mingled and chatted in the beautiful garden setting, before the official part of the event began. In attendance were ambassadors and diplomats of many countries, VIPs, Israelis with close business or personal ties to Africa, and of course many local African personalities. We noticed among others,the Head of the Protocol for the Israeli Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Meron Reuben, Yahel Vilan - Director of Department East and Southern Africa , Africa division Israel MFA, the ambassadors of Kenya, Zambia, Ruanda, Kazakhstan, South Korea, the Philippines, Sri Lanka, the European Union and Ireland. Also honoring the hosts with their presence were Ms. Nathalie Mimoun (Honorary Consul of France), Kasbian Nuriel Chirich (Tanzanian Honorary Consul), Deputy Head of Mission at the Swedish Embassy Staffan Jonsäter and Col. Aviezer Segal IDF Defense Attaché to Africa International Cooperation Division.
First, the national anthems of the AU and of Israel were played to the gathering. That was followed by the opening address by H.E. Ambassador Mr. Martin Mwanambale of Zambia, an address that was a fascinating revelation to many. “As you may be aware, the establishment of the OAU led to the liberation of the African continent culminating in the defeat of the apartheid system in Namibia and South Africa, thereby ensuring a continent free from colonialism and apartheid … Africa Day is a time when we collectively celebrate our unity and reconfirm our desire for an integrated, united, prosperous and peaceful Africa, contributing significantly to a global development agenda. Through our continental organization, we also continue to promote unity and maintain fraternal bonds with the African Diaspora”. The ambassador gave a detailed overview of recent (and not so recent events) in African states, with a broad outline of the AU’s “AFRICA 2063” goals, which include a united continent and a major reduction in corruption. “In line with the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), the African Union launched its own strategic framework for socio-economic transformation, “Agenda 2063”, as we aspire to a prosperous Africa based on inclusive growth and sustainable development accelerating the implementation of past and existing continental initiatives such as NEPAD, amongst them. In so doing, we also recognize that there can be no meaningful development without peace on the continent. Hence in Agenda 2063 we aspire for a peaceful and secure Africa. We envisage that mechanisms for peaceful prevention and resolution of conflicts will be fully functional at all levels by 2020, to silence all the guns on the continent. We are hopeful that concerted efforts by the AU and its subsidiary bodies, in cooperation with the United Nations, will lead to peaceful and durable solutions to the conflicts in our continent”. His Excellency mentioned that Africa is the world’s richest continent in terms of natural resources, but that much is wasted through poor agricultural methods and again – corruption. He added how much Israel has done in improving Africa, providing resources, training, science, and technology.
He added: “On behalf of the African group, I have the honor to express our warmest and sincerest congratulations to the Government and People of the State of Israel for the milestone marking 70 years of independence this year and for the tremendous developmental achievements Israel has registered in such a short span of time.
We look forward to your Government’s continued support to the African continent. In this regard, we look forward to Israel broadening its footprint on the continent by opening new diplomatic missions in the various capitals”.
In conclusion, the Ambassador added that it was an honor to propose a toast to the good health of “our leaders in Africa and Israel, the growing cooperation between Africa and Israel and the good health of the peoples of Africa and Israel and all distinguished guests here present.”
Ambassador Michael Oren, Deputy Minister in the Prime Minister of Israel’s Office, responded on behalf of the State of Israel. He gave a brief overview, recalling that Israel and Africa share a 4000-year old history, specifically in Egypt, Ethiopia and more recently, in North Africa. Israel has always been a supporter of Africa, offering aid, infrastructure, technology and agriculture, both there and by inviting young Africans to study and train in Israel. He noted that Africa and Israel share values of peace and advancement and that the links between African States and Israel have always been mutually beneficial. “Israel’s Prime Minister (Mr. Benjamin Netanyahu) has visited Africa no less than three times in last two years. We share resources, especially in the battle against terror”. Ambassador Oren thanked the diplomats in attendance and on behalf of the government and people of the State of Israel, wished them all sincere congratulation for Africa Day.
His remarks were followed by an address by Knesset Member Dr. Avraham Neguise, Chairman of the Caucus for Israel-Africa Relations, and also Chairman of Immigration, Absorption, and Diaspora Affairs. He too reviewed Africa-Israel relations, and ended with a call for African nations to “stand on the right side of history” by moving their embassies to Jerusalem; to support Israel at the United Nations where our country is so often unfairly attacked and to enable Israel to regain its observer status at the AU.
The guests were then invited to taste the cuisines of the African countries in attendance. Each country had a space with offerings typical of their homelands. It was a fascinating (and for those without self-control!) a deliciously fattening experience. Extremely unusual, very inviting, and very generous. The bar remained open, ensuring that everyone had a wonderful time.
The management and staff of diplomacy.co.il join in wishing all the embassy diplomats and staffers a wonderful Africa Day and extended success for the future ever-improving relationships between African States and the State of Israel.
Photos by Silvia G Golan
(c) Copyright Jonathan Danilowitz June 2018