Recently, Albania received good news that it will soon begin succession talks towards EU integration. Albania is a close friend of the U.S. and has always been a good friend to the Jewish People. It is now establishing friendship ties with Israel. A successful visit to the Jewish State this week by an Albanian delegation, including Foreign Minister Ditmir Bushati, helped in solidifying this new relationship.
Since the U.S. has started coordinating its foreign policy with the EU, it means that countries accepted for succession talks, which also happen to be friendly with Israel, could become future advocates. For example, eventual integration into the EU by Albania suggests that when Israel needs Albania in critical moments of diplomacy, especially within international forums… that’s what friends are for.
Bushati elaborated in an interview with this writer: “Nowadays, there is not a conflict looming on the horizon, and all Balkan countries are sitting at the same table…. So, if there is one spot in the world that someone can measure the success of US and EU policy, this would undoubtedly be the Balkans.”
Since the breakdown of the peace process, and the development of the Fatah-Hamas unity government, the Palestinians are racing towards greater international recognition for Palestinian statehood. At the same time, Israeli leaders are stepping up their approach, as a counteroffensive, extending a hand of friendship to any interested country — large or small — that wants to do business with the Jewish State. Israeli diplomats know this could be one more vote in favor of Israel within the EU or the UN, which is one less vote of hostility.
Since the Pope’s visit in May 2014, Israel has received a stream of high-level delegations on official visits from Holland, Slovakia, Italy, Romania, Montenegro, Albania, Moldova, and other nations.
With an eye towards developing friendlier ties, almost every visit includes concentrated efforts at “soft power” diplomacy: economic partnerships; new and ongoing business deals; discussions in the fields of agriculture, water, high-tech, biotech, tourism, textiles, science, and education – whatever is possible to create a logical fit of increased trade, while also maintaining political dialogue. In other words, Israel is open for business on all levels within current geopolitical realities.
Bushati admits that after the fall of the communist regime, in the past two decades there has been a series of changes in terms of statehood in the region. There’s been a lot of bloodshed and economic poverty. Now there are no wars, but there are still issues to be addressed and resolved concerning ethnic disputes; displaced persons; challenges regarding the protection of minorities and in relation to the respect of property and basic rights; and, the need to address native cultures and languages.