Four ambassadors present credentials to President Isaac Herzog

The ambassadors from Switzerland, the EU, Rwanda and Italy presented their credentials to President Isaac Herzog.

 President Isaac Herzog. (photo credit: MARC ISRAEL SELLEM)
President Isaac Herzog.
(photo credit: MARC ISRAEL SELLEM)

President Isaac Herzog on Monday accepted the credentials of four new ambassadors – Urs Bucher of Switzerland, Dimiter Tzantchev of the European Union, James Gatera of Rwanda and Sergio Barbanti of Italy.

Bucher and Herzog met several weeks ago when the ambassador accompanied Swiss President Guy Parmelin to his meeting with Herzog. Expressing admiration and respect for the Swiss Confederation of governance, Herzog said that he knows Switzerland well.

His oldest brother Joel lives in Geneva and, aside from being a prominent businessman, is involved at the executive level with several Israel-oriented organizations, and is married to Marguerite Gaon the daughter of Nessim Gaon, who was president of the World Sephardi Federation, a vice president of the World Jewish Congress and chairman of the Board of Governors of Ben Gurion University.

Herzog expects to visit Switzerland next year for the 125th anniversary celebrations of the World Zionist Organization, founded by Theodor Herzl at the first Zionist Congress in Basel in 1897.

Characterizing Switzerland as “an honest broker” Herzog told Bucher that he hopes Switzerland can help in the repatriation of the Israelis being held in Gaza.

 Israeli President Isaac Herzog arrives outside Downing Street to meet Britain's Prime Minister Boris Johnson, in London, Britain, November 23, 2021. (credit: REUTERS/TOBY MELVILLE) Israeli President Isaac Herzog arrives outside Downing Street to meet Britain's Prime Minister Boris Johnson, in London, Britain, November 23, 2021. (credit: REUTERS/TOBY MELVILLE)

Bucher conceded that Switzerland is “a provider of diplomatic services” and doesn’t make a noise, he said, “but we’re always ready to help” and “we build diplomatic bridges.” Lauding Switzerland as a good financial model for Israel, Herzog said that Israeli investors are looking for long-standing major companies with sustainable production.

Before leaving, Bucher, as is customary, signed the visitors’ book and wrote Herzl’s most famous quote: “If you will it, it is no dream.”

Tzantchev, when presenting his credentials, spoke in Hebrew, but when he and Herzog sat down for a chat, the president, mindful that English has become the language of diplomacy, suggested that they switch to English.

Tzantchev is no stranger to Israel. He previously served here from 1996-1999 as Deputy Head of Mission at the Bulgarian Embassy, returned as ambassador of Bulgaria in 2008, and is now on his third stint as head of the delegation of the European Union in Israel. He speaks Hebrew fluently, and says that his daughter Elena, who was born in Israel in 2009, is a sabra.

Herzog told him that he had come to a different region from the one he had known previously – a region in which Israel is making peace with her neighbors. As for Israel’s relations with the EU, while acknowledging that there had been some setbacks in the relationship, Herzog said that he was a true believer in Israel’s partnership with the EU, insisting that Israel’s voice must be heard. In this context, he urged the implementation of the EU’s Association Agreement with Israel, adding that he hoped as president, to enhance the Jewish state’s relations with the union.

Tzantchev said that relations between Israel and the EU are now excellent and there is cooperation in many fields.

In the interests of global security, Tzantchev pledged that the EU will do all it can to prevent Iran from having nuclear weapons. On a personal level, he said that he was very pleased to be back. “I feel that Israel is like a second family for me.”


HERZOG THANKED Gatera for Rwanda’s support in enabling Israel to have observer status at the African Union, and said that he hoped to visit Rwanda and Africa in general because he is convinced that there is tremendous potential in Africa.

Gatera assured him that Rwanda will always support Israel, and said that his country wants to see more people-to-people relationships.

Barbanti has been quite busy since arriving in Israel and will be even busier next week when, on December 12, he will participate in a binational conference at Ben-Gurion University on Science and Society in a Changing World – Ethical and Cultural Challenges, which is being co-hosted by the Italian Embassy and the Association of Italian Scholars and Scientists in Israel, together with BGU.

Herzog noted that a lot of Italian expatriates are in Israel and that many of them are academics and scientists.

While enthusing over the “superb relations” between Israel and Italy, he said that Jerusalem is trying to get Rome to improve its voting in international forums where, in some places on issues related to Israel, it abstains.

Barbanti spoke of Israel’s outstanding record for innovation, saying that innovation means sharing, and he feels that Israel is in a very good position to share. “Israel has a lot to say, and we can do a lot together,” he said.

When a group of new ambassadors presents credentials they usually have a “getting to know you” reception – a vin d’honneur - for fellow ambassadors, honorary consuls and executives of major companies that do business with enterprises in their countries.

The four ambassadors were joined in the receiving line at the King David Hotel in Jerusalem by US Ambassador Tom Nides, who presented his credentials to Herzog on Sunday.