Peres talks Syria, terrorism with new ambassadors

President meets with five new ambassadors including Ghanian, Bulgarian, Greek and first ever Guyanan ambassador.

May 28, 2013 17:31
2 minute read.
President Shimon Peres with new ambassadors May 28 2013.

Peres with new ambassadors 390. (photo credit: Mark Neiman/GPO)


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President Shimon Peres was pleasantly surprised on Tuesday when Bulgaria’s new ambassador, Dimitar Mihaylov, addressed him in Hebrew when presenting him with his letter of credence.

Mihaylov has never been to Israel before, nor is he Jewish.

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In fact, his last diplomatic appointment was as Bulgaria’s ambassador to Syria, where he spent seven years. Moreover, he is an alumnus of the University of Damascus, where he studied Arabic Literature. He also has a PhD in the history of Islam from the University of Sofia. A career diplomat, Mihaylov has been with Bulgaria’s Foreign Service for more than 20 years.

Mihaylov was the first of five new ambassadors who presented credentials on Tuesday.

Another was Ernest Sowatey Lomotey, the ambassador of Ghana, whose immediate predecessor, Henry Hanson-Hall, was still in Israel at the end of last week.

Lomotey said that he had been charged by Ghana’s president, John Dramani Mahama, to deepen the relationship between the two countries and to form an even closer relationship with Mashav, Israel’s Agency for International Development Cooperation.

Peres makes a point of telling new ambassadors that Israel is a warm and friendly country in which they can feel at home. When he said that to Greece’s new envoy, Spyridon Lampridis, the latter replied to him in Hebrew that he really does feel at home, completing the sentence with the words ‘hazarti habayta’ (I have returned home).

Lampridis served at a lower diplomatic level in Israel some 20 years ago, and is very pleased to be back in his present capacity.

Latvian Ambassador Andris Vilcans has been a career diplomat since 1991. He conveyed greetings from President Andres Berzins, who he said is looking forward to hosting Peres at the end of July.

Aside from positions that Vilcans has held in his country’s Ministry for Foreign Affairs, he has served as ambassador to Uzbekistan, Ukraine and Georgia and was nonresident ambassador to Egypt, Kyrgyzstan, Moldova, Romania and Azarbaijan.

Nonresident Ambassador George Talbot, who is stationed in New York where he is his country’s permanent representative to the United Nations, is the first ambassador of Guyana to Israel.

In September, last year, he was elected to chair the UN Second Committee on Economics and Finance. He was the first representative of a Caricom member state of the UN to hold the position.

Peres was confident that Mihaylov will enhance economic, political and scientific relations between the two countries, and said that Israel would never forget the friendship and courage of the Bulgarian people during the World War II when they protected their Jewish citizens from the Nazis.

He was also appreciative of the way Bulgaria dealt with last year’s terror attack on a tour bus that claimed Israeli and Bulgarian lives.

Mihaylov said that rather than focus on government-togovernment relations, he will devote himself more toward utilizing Bulgarian Jews in Israel as a bridge between the two countries.

Turning to the situation in Syria, Mihaylov said that it was detrimental and destroying Syrian society. Regrettably, he could not see a solution to Syria’s troubles.

“None of us can remain indifferent to the bloodshed in Syria. It’s not a political issue but a human one,” said Peres. “It’s an Arab problem and the Arab League will have to intervene.”

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