TIRANA (EJP)---Israeli Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman travelled to Albania on an official visit, where he opened a new embassy, according to a statement by the Israeli Foreign Minister
In Tirana, Lieberman met with his Albanian counterpart Edmond Panarity, along with President Bujar Nishanti and Prime Minister Sali Berisha, as well as Minister of Economy, Trade and Energy Edmond Haxhinasto and opposition leader Edi Rama.
The inauguration of the Israeli outpost represent Israel’s first official embassy in Albania, with foreign affairs relating to the region being dealt with formerly by a non-resident ambassador. It represents the tenth new embassy since the start of Lieberman’s as Foreign Minister, will another three missions planned within the next year.
The statement declared “the opening of each new diplomatic mission as a festive occasion for the State of Israel , the citizens of Israel and for Israeli diplomacy”, emphasising the especial important of opening a mission in the predominantly Muslim NATO member state of Albania.
Diplomatic relations between 70% Muslim Albania and Israel were established in 1991, with Albania first recognising the State of Israel official in 1949. In 1999, Israel took in Albanian refugees of the Kosovo War, providing them with food, medical care and accommodation. Israel has also supported Albania’s membership of NATO and the EU as an observer state.
Albania was the only European nation that ended the Second World War with a larger Jewish population than it housed before the start of the war, with only one Jewish family being deported during Nazi wartime occupation of the country. As well as protecting its native Jewish population, Albania also took in Jewish refugees from neighbouring countries, providing them with forged documents to help them integrate in the wider Albanian population and fend off the threat of deportation.
Approximately 500 descendants of Jewish families are now estimated to live in Albania.