Israel this week will open a new embassy in Albania, a NATO member nation with a Muslim population of 70 percent. Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman left Israel on Wednesday to attend the historic event.
He is meeting in the capital city of Tirana with President Bujar Nishani, Prime Minister Sali Berisha, Foreign Affairs Minister Edmond Panariti, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Economy, Trade and Energy Edmond Haxhinasto, and opposition leader Edi Rama.
The establishment of a new Israeli embassy in Tirana comes at an especially sensitive time in Albania's history. The country's newly-elected president last week called for political unity in the country during a July 24 ceremony in Tirana. Nishani urged all factions to minimize their differences in order to meet the "historic challenge" of European Union membership.
During his stay, FM Lieberman will also hold additional meetings.
Prior to the establishment of the embassy, Albanian matters were handled by a non-resident ambassador.
The Albanian prime minister emphasized his nation's commitment to religious tolerance during his state visit to Israel late last year. Berisha referred at the time to Iran and its President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad as “the new Nazis” during an interview with the Hebrew-language newspaper Yediot Acharonot.
Albania also did not support the bid by the Palestinian Authority at the United Nations Security Council session to grant recognition of statehood and membership by the international body.
When a local Albanian publisher illegally released an edition of Adolf Hitler's anti-Semitic treatise “Mein Kampf” earlier this year, government officials immediately said the book would be “judicially treated as it violates Albanian legislation” for inciting racial hatred.
This is the tenth diplomatic mission to be inaugurated since Lieberman began serving as foreign minister. An additional three missions are due to be opened within the next year, according to the Foreign Ministry.