President Reuven Rivlin.
(photo credit: REUTERS)
Five new ambassadors presented their credentials to President Reuven Rivlin on Thursday.
Those were Thessalia-Salina Shambos of Cyprus, David Quarrey, ambassador of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, Dr. Clemens von Goetze, of Germany, Joseph Rutabana, the first resident ambassador of Rwanda, and Winslow William Waven, the first ambassador to Israel of the Seychelles, who will be non-resident and based in New Delhi, India.
Daniel Carmon, Israel’s ambassador-designate to the Seychelles who is due to present his credentials next week, is likewise based in New Delhi.
Up until now, the Seychelles – which established diplomatic relations with Israel in 1992 – was represented solely by Honorary Consul Arie Goldstein, who accompanied Waven to the presentation ceremony.
Greeting the ambassadors, Rivlin emphasized the need for confidence-building measures between Israel and the Palestinians. He also asked those countries with close ties to the Palestinians to help in this regard.
Rivlin had previously met Shambos during the recent visit to Israel by Cypriot President Nicos Anastasiades.
Rivlin told her that Israel would never forget what the people of Cyprus did for Holocaust survivors interned in camps there by the British who had barred them from landing on the shores of the Holy Land. He also said that neighborly relations between Israel and Cyprus would become closer in the future due to their mutual interest in offshore natural gas fields.
Responding to the president’s remarks, Shambos said that it was an emotional experience for her to be in Israel because so much history has gone between Israel and Cyprus. She reminded Rivlin that Cypriot wine is mentioned in the Jerusalem Talmud. “We have a natural affinity as well as strong political ties,” she said. “Our two peoples shared a quest for statehood sovereignty and survival, and we have a common vision for a stable and secure region where peace is a very expensive commodity.”
The president reminded the new British ambassador that during his tenure in Israel, in 2017, the country will be celebrating the 100th anniversary of the Balfour Declaration.
The declaration forged a special relationship between the Jewish People and Britain, he said. Rivlin added that he had been born as a Palestinian during the reign of King George VI, and had been a boy when Queen Elizabeth II had ascended the throne. He told Quarrey that it would be very helpful toward ending the conflict between Israel and the Palestinians if the queen were to visit the region, including Israel.
In turn, Quarrey said that while he was looking forward to the centenary of the Balfour Declaration, the 400th anniversary next year of the death of Shakespeare will take place first. He said that the embassy will mark the event in a substantial manner. It will also be a significant year for the country because the queen will celebrate her 90th birthday.
New German envoy von Goetze was still on home turf when Rivlin visited in May during the 50th anniversary celebration of diplomatic relations between the two countries.
Rivlin described today’s Germany as a “protector of the free world, fighting terror and fundamentalism,” and added that he was looking forward to the upcoming visit to Israel by President Joachim Gauck. The president added that while the past cannot be forgotten, he looked forward to the future, and was greatly appreciative of the deep commitment by Chancellor Angela Merkel and her government to Israel’s security.
The German diplomat responded to the president’s welcome by saying that the country’s relations with Israel are based on it taking responsibility for the killing of millions of Jews by Germans during the Nazi era. “Because of the tragic history that binds us, the security of Israel is our first priority.”
He also pledged that Germany will continue to be engaged in the striving for Middle East peace.
The president underscored the importance of Rutabana being his country’s first resident ambassador to Israel.
Alluding to the Rwandan genocide of 1994, Rivlin said that Israel and Rwanda have a lot in common in both suffering and security. He added that Israel appreciates Rwanda’s attitude toward Israel’s involvement in Africa. Dwelling on the similarities between Israel and Rwanda, the Rwandan dignitary responded, saying: “Like Israel, we rose from the ashes to become a modern state,” but Rwanda still has much to learn from Israel he acknowledged. Rutabana conveyed the good wishes of President Paul Kagame, and Rivlin said that he hoped to see him soon in Israel.
Greeting Waven, the new non-resident ambassador of the Seychelles, Rivlin said that he was aware that the island nation had to cope with terrorism from the sea.
He expressed the hope that the day would not be long in coming when there would be a full embassy for the country in Israel.
Waven thanked Israel for its help in security training and also voiced appreciation to Mashav, the Agency for International Development Cooperation in the Foreign Ministry that is currently training 25 students from the Seychelles.