CALIXTE BATOSSIE MADJOULBA of Togo presents his credentials to President Reuven Rivlin at the President’s Residence in the capital yesterday.
(photo credit: Mark Neiman/GPO)
Five new ambassadors presented credentials to President Reuven Rivlin on Monday.
They were Maria Gabriela Troya Rodriguez of Ecuador, Tsegay Berha Hadera of Ethiopia, Calixte Batossie Madjoulba of Togo, Mosese Tikoitoga of Fiji and Berdymurat Redjepov of Turkmenistan.
The ambassadors of Ecuador and Ethiopia are resident in Israel. Togo’s ambassador is resident in Paris, Fiji’s in Ethiopia and Turkmenistan’s in Rome.
Troya Rodriguez has worked in diplomatic posts in many parts of the world, but Israel is the first country in which she is serving as an ambassador.
In 2014, Ecuador’s President Rafael Correa canceled a visit to Israel by way of conveying his strong opposition to Israeli policies in Gaza during and after Operation Protective Edge, and then-foreign minister Ricardo Patino announced that Ecuador would open an embassy “in Palestine.”
At his meeting with Troya Rodriguez, Rivlin repeated several times that even though there were disagreements between Israel and Ecuador, Israel had never severed relations with Ecuador, and he implied that the main reason for this was that Ecuador was one of the 33 member states of the UN that on November 29, 1947, voted in favor of the partition of Mandatory Palestine, which led to the establishment of the State of Israel.
Lest there be any misunderstanding, Troya Rodriguez said Correa was an admirer of Israel and he was eager to see greater cooperation in the realm of innovation.
Rivlin was particularly happy to greet Ethiopia’s Hadera, saying that while he has welcomed ambassadors whose countries have had relations with Israel for 10, 20, 30 and even a hundred years, relations with Ethiopia go back much further – almost 3,000 years – to the Queen of Sheba.
Hadera is a descendant of the Queen of Sheba, and the long-standing relationship, according to Hadera, creates a sense of brotherhood. Rivlin spoke of the contributions that Ethiopian immigrants have made to the state, and congratulated Ethiopia on its membership to the UN Security Council saying “I hope you will have the opportunity to help us. It will be good to know that we have a friend in the Security Council.”
In greeting Togo’s Madjoulba, Rivlin noted that this year is the 30th anniversary year of the establishment of diplomatic relations between Israel and Togo.
Rivlin emphasized that Israel sees the future in Africa, and in this context referred to the Africa-Israel Summit Conference scheduled to be held in Togo’s capital Lome, October 16-20, 2017. It will be the first conference of its kind and will be attended by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. In speaking individually to both Hadera and Madjoulba, Rivlin referred to the success of Netanyahu’s visit to Africa last year.
Fiji’s ambassador, like Madjoulba, is a military man.
Whereas Madjoulba holds the rank of colonel, Tikoitoga is a brigadier-general, a former chief of staff and the former head of Fiji’s peacekeeping forces on the Golan. Coming back to Israel, said Tikloitoga, is like a homecoming.
Fijians are very Bible conscious and many Fijian males have found that the easiest way to get to see Israel, said Tikoitoga, is to enlist in the army and to be part of the UNIFIL peacekeeping forces. Having spent eight years with UNIFIL, the Fijian ambassador said he was now ready to tackle peacekeeping problems in a different capacity. Though stationed in Ethiopia, he promised to pay frequent visits to Israel. Rivlin was confident that when discussing issues of security, Tikoitoga would not require many explanations. “You know our security needs,” said Rivlin.
Even though Redjepov is resident in Rome, and the president usually spends less time with nonresident envoys than those who live here, he gave most of his time on Monday to the Turkmenistan ambassador quipping that Israel has a long history between Jerusalem and Rome. Redjepov and his wife, who had arrived the previous day, had gone touring, and his wife had told him that she would prefer if they were living in Israel rather than Italy.
In the course of the conversation, Rivlin repeatedly referred to the neutrality of the secular, largely Muslim state, which he said sits on the crossroads of the world and remains neutral.
Turkmenistan shares a border with Iran and is sandwiched between Russia and China, but it allows none of these countries to dictate its policies, he said.
“The world is full of conflicts, and you are there as observers,” Rivlin said.