PM Netanyahu (right) and Albanian PM Edi Rama sign agreements in Jerusalem, December 21, 2015.
(Photo: GPO/Kobi Gideon)

Albanian Prime Minister Edi Rama met with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Monday in Jerusalem to sign a joint declaration of friendship  and discuss future collaboration between the two countries.

The declaration of friendship marks the 25th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic relations between Israel and Albania. The two leaders also signed a medical research cooperation agreement between hospitals.

After signing the declarations, Netanyahu and Rama had a private meeting, and then a public meeting in which the leaders discussed further expanding the relationship between the countries. Rama expressed interest in building a bilateral cooperation with Israel in the fields of security, cyber technology, water, and energy, noting that Albania would be happy to learn from Israel’s innovations.

For Israel’s part, Netanyahu spoke about increasing trade and cooperation with Albania in several different fields. He told the Albanian leader, “We know that Albania is a good friend of Israel.”

He drew special attention to Albania’s historically good treatment of the Jews, saying, “The people of Albania are not merely good friends today of the people of Israel, but in the crucial period of the Holocaust they stood shoulder to shoulder with the Jewish people persecuted in Europe.”

Indeed, during the German occupation of Europe in World War II, nearly all of the Jews living within Albanian borders were rescued and survived the Holocaust.

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Netanyahu added, “I think Albania is the only country whose Jewish population during the Holocaust actually grew because of the refuge and the sanctuary and the friendship and courage showed by the people of Albania. We never forget our friends, and we appreciate that display of humanity, civility and courage in our darkest hours.”

The Israeli leader told Rama that he looked forward to expanding relations in the areas of trade, investment, water, and energy, as well as addressing questions of security, the strengthening of which, he said, is becoming increasingly important not just for Israel but for the entire world.

“Today there is a looming terrorism that threatens all of us,” he warned. “Israel fights terrorism day in, day out. Israel never lets down its guard. But I think increasingly countries today understand that the problems of international security are intertwined. Terrorism threatens everyone. It is international and the response to it should be international.”

Rama will tour Jerusalem’s Holocaust museum, Yad Vashem, on Monday, and participate in a memorial ceremony in the Hall of Remembrance. He will also meet with members of the Mandil family, who were rescued during the Holocaust by a pair of Albanian Muslim brothers.

The Albanian Prime Minister will also sign an agreement between the Albanian Ministry of Education and Sport and Yad Vashem, which will promote Holocaust education in Albania.

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Source: Israel in the News