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No anti-semitism in macedonia.

The new Israeli Ambassador in Macedonia David Cohen handed over his credentials on 23 November and then toured the country for ten days visiting several towns. This is quite unusual for an ambassador. "I decided to stay longer than a week because I am a non-resident ambassador (he covers the country from the Foreign Ministry in Jerusalem) with the purpose not only of meeting official representatives, which was definitely my primary goal, but also to see the people in Macedonia. I believe that I have reached the goal. My intention is not to work just on the government-government level, but also on the cooperation between the people, between the towns, and between the parliaments," Ambassador Cohen says. He adds that he does not expect the establishment of such a cooperation to be made in just one visit, but he believes that next year he will come in Macedonia at least five or six times to complete his visions.

Several towns expressed willingness to cooperate with towns in Israel and they also emphasized the wish to fraternize. What kind of cooperation do the mayors want?

- The first thing that the mayors speak about is investments. They know that twenty years ago Israel started investing in Eastern Europe. The second thing is tourism. In the summer we have charter flights to Ohrid and I believe that Macedonia can promote tourism, while the Israelis are very good tourists. Unfortunately, the Israelis do not know that Ohrid is the "European Jerusalem". The third level of cooperation is on the professional level, that is to say the Israeli know-how in Macedonia. We only have basic industry, but the economy is founded on high technology that has been developing in the past 30 years. This is exactly why Israel does not have difficult problems with the economic crisis.

In the past few years there have been many contacts on a governmental level, but unfortunately there is no serious cooperation. There had been some ideas for cooperation in the field of military industry, in the agriculture, but nothing more significant for now. What can we expect in the future?

- In the new era the real cooperation and exchange is in the private sector. If this sector in the two countries finds interest in the economy, they will cooperate. The Israeli businessmen know that Macedonia is on the door to negotiations with the EU and people will be sent to scrutinize the opportunities in the country. We expect Prime Minister Gruevski to visit our country next year when we will point out our economic interests. We suggested the Prime Minister to meet Israeli businessmen to explain the opportunities in Macedonia and invite them to invest. In spite of the good relations, our businessmen know a little about Macedonia because of which it has to be promoted in Israel.

Your predecessors covered Macedonia from Athens, then from Belgrade, and you from Tel Aviv. Is your Government considering the idea of opening an embassy in Skopje?

- This is a very good idea and I believe that in the near future our Ministry will consider its diplomatic representation offices in the world. It is not easy for Israel to take care of 100 embassies. For instance, in 1989 we did not have embassies in the former Soviet block, not even in China or India. While we opened embassies in some countries, we closed some in others, as for instance in Africa and Latin America. I will tell you an anecdote with the President of Bolivia, who asked us why we were not closing down the embassies in El Salvador or Costa Rica knowing that they, too, are small countries. And we replied that they had embassies in Israel, in Jerusalem. When a country has its embassy in Jerusalem, we will have an embassy in that country. We hope to have many embassies in Israel one day, including the Macedonian, because, after all, Ohrid is the "European Jerusalem", is it not?

What messages did you receive from the Jewish community here?

- The message that I received was that the Jews here feel that this might be the unique country where they cannot notice anti-Semitism. This is a very important matter. The small Jewish community feels safe, knowing that it lives in a country that loves the Jews, that it keeps very good relations with Israel, and they appreciate the act of the Government and the people to build the Memorial Center of the Jews. In Israel we appreciate very much this attitude towards the Jewish community.

What is your comment about the plan of your Government to stop temporarily the construction of flats on the Western Bank which is historically your country?

- This is a very good question. The problem is political. Our main goal is to renew the peace process with the Arab world, especially with the Palestinians, who set up some conditions for the renewal of that process. Israel would like to talk about everything, because the challenges that they set up before us will show whether their approach is serious. Out of these reasons our Government decided to stop the construction of new flats on the occupied territories for a period of ten months, after which time we will see whether the Palestinians are fulfilling the conditions in order to sit down on the negotiating table. So far, the Palestinian leaders have not been positive.
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Title Annotation:EN "DNEVNIK"
Author:Ivanovski, Hristo
Publication:Weekly News Service
Date:Dec 17, 2009
Previous Article:Third option.
Next Article:Next spring Macedonia is to become real construction site.

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