History Has No Dull Moments
25 October, 2012
History Has No Dull Moments

Interview with the new Ambassador of Israel Mr. Yuval Fuchs

Israel has a new Ambassador to Georgia. He came here “just in time”, at a very crucial and interesting moment for the country and was able to observe all latest political events. He is one of the most active ambassadors, as it was his initiative to talk to us, which we deeply appreciate.  

He arrived two months ago. He is not quite new to the region because he worked at the

Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Israel as a director of the Department of the Caucasus and Central Asia. Mr. Yuval Fuchs has visited Georgia three times. Let’s listen to his fresh impressions about  the new country, which happens to be the first place where he will serve as an Ambassador.

 

G.J: What are the priorities of the Embassy of Israel with the new Ambassador at its helm? Please, introduce yourself.

Y.F: I am telling all my partners here that we have three main directions: Our first aim is to deepen and enlarge our political dialogue, meaning that we are not only good friends but there are challenges that we have to face together. There are challenges in the Caucasus and there are challenges in the Middle East and we are not very far from each other; things like terror, regional instability or other threats are common for the region. For example, today, look at the Middle East, not very far from Georgia, and see what is happening in Syria; look at what is happening in Lebanon. Either we face these threats together, or we won’t succeed. One more challenge, which is important not only for the region, for Georgia and my country, but for the entire international community, is the nuclear program of Iran. You are quite close to Iran and we are not very far from it either. Iran is developing nuclear facilities, it is threatening the member states of the UN, it is promoting hateful speech, it is developing missile programs, it is supporting terror in the Middle East and so on. The second sphere is economic relations - I think we should go further in this direction. Georgia holds place among top 20-25 trade partners of Israel. I think that we should be among your top ten partners. The third thing as a part of my endeavor is culture. We had two concerts within the framework of Tbilisi Autumn, we also had two theatre groups in the framework of Tbilisi International Theatre Festival. We should strengthen these ties. It’s a well-known fact that the Jewish community exists here since 2600 years. There are very good connections not only between the states, as states are much younger, but also between the people, but we should look ahead – maybe 40, 50 or 100 years ahead and think about the younger generation, more programs, more exchanges and of course, more exposure. That’s what I will be focusing on during my work here in Georgia.

G.J: You mentioned Iran’s Nuclear programs. What about the threats particularly for Georgia in this respect?

Y.F: The international community is dealing with this in several formats, one of which is P5+1, which is the permanent members of the Security Council plus Germany who are having for several years negotiations with Iran. There are several resolutions of the UN Security Council, there are several resolutions of the IAEA, etc.  The only mechanism that works is the sanctions. The more pressure is made the more effect we see with Iran. But Iran never excluded neither their military program as requested by the International Community, which are kept secret. We ask why? What is the purpose?  Georgia of course is not an exception being a part of the international community. We appreciate very much the commitment of Georgia to this international policy.

G.J: What has Georgia won in the eye of the international community by handing over the government so peacefully?

Y.F: I was in Kutaisi yesterday, at the

 

opening of the new Parliament. If I had to describe transitional period from the Election Day till now in one word, it’d be RESPECT. I think that the whole international community including Israel is satisfied. I am very impressed first and foremost, for the democratic process of your country. This is a great achievement for Georgia and Georgian people. Israel congratulated and we still congratulate you. Secondly, I think, we have to congratulate President Saakashvili and his team for his personal contribution to democracy in Georgia and for this very peaceful and very constructive transition period, and then we have to congratulate Mr. Ivanishvili and his team for the achievement in the elections and on the way that they deal with in this transition. Georgia showed maturity. Political life may sometimes be tough and difficult, but regarding maturity and constructive work, I am very optimistic and I am confident that the next stages will be overcome in the same manner.

G.J: There is much talk on the part of International organizations about the possible political revanchism, but there are some criminal figures among the people of former government who should be held responsible for their activities. Where does the border-line lie between the mere revenge and fair punishment of criminal political figures?

Y.F: I think that revanchism and intimidation in politics and economy is something very negative. Leaders of the winning party “Georgian Dream” are stressing in all their statements and in all their talks including with myself that there will be no revanchism, no intimidation and there will be rule of law. I think that in every democracy the rule of law should be respected. That must be the basic line.

G.J: What about the threats of the dual rule, as it is a new fruit for Georgia – having the strong opposition on the one hand and the President as a leader of the opposition on the other?

Y.F: These things are in accordance with the Georgian Constitution. This is something that Georgia has chosen, this is the reality. Also the political parties, both camps, said they will act constructively. Politics may sometimes be very difficult and many difficult moments to be overcome, but I don’t have any reason to doubt their capability to continue working together as constructively as they have started. This approach has been very much appreciated by Israel and others. This constructive approach is appreciated throughout the whole world.

G.J: You are the Ambassador who came “just in time”, in the crucial moment of  Georgian history.

Y.F: This is definitely a historic moment for Georgia. I am glad about the fact that I came in this period. In the Middle East, we say that there is never a dull moment. I am new to the region here, but since I arrived, it seems that there really never is a dull moment. There is also another saying: God save us from living in an uninteresting time, so we are definitely living in most interesting times, both in Georgia and Israel. I am optimistic that Georgia will cope with a new challenge. You cannot compare as there are different mechanisms in different countries, and this is not a unique case of course. The things here are new and more complicated as it is the first transition, but again I am very optimistic about the way the things are being managed. This way is welcomed for all.

G.J: Several years ago, two Israeli businessmen were arrested. The relations between the two countries became rather tense due to this unpleasant fact.  However, President Saakashvili amnestied them at the beginnings of 2012. Are there any official visits on the agenda in the near future?

Y.F: This year we are celebrating the 20th anniversary of diplomatic relations between Georgia and Israel. There were some ups and downs in recent history, but I am glad that this situation was overcome. I have all the reasons to believe that we are on a very good track, this year we had high ranking visits from your side, beginning with the Patriarch, former Speaker of the Parliament Mr. Bakradze, Foreign Minister Mr. Vashadze, Minister of Economy, some other deputies. From our side, we had here the Minister of transportation, the Minister of Diaspora, the Minister of Agriculture, Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs, Parliamentary friendship group was here in early summer. We have some plans ahead. As soon as the new government is ratified, we will put these visits in concrete terms. We are definitely thinking of high-ranking visits, to continue this very important momentum, which will include not only visits, but we are also working on business forum, of some more cultural events already this year and definitely for the next year. We have many programs to strengthen all the above-mentioned three directions.

G.J: What about the cultural days?

Y.F: Ashdod is the city in Israel with the biggest Georgian community (former Georgian citizens who repatriated to their historic land). They are annually holding days of Georgian culture. But my main effort, as an ambassador, is to promote  the Israeli culture, cinema, theatre, music, literature in Georgia. Culture is very important because it is a heart-to-heart exchange. I must say that I have Rustaveli in Hebrew, but there is not enough modern Georgian literature translated into the Hebrew and vice versa. We could do more in the field of literature and in sports and youth exchange too. Your very good basketball player is playing in Israel – Giorgi Shermadini. I attach great importance to the things like that.

G.J: What could Georgia share from Israel’s political, economic and cultural experience?

Y.F: We have very interesting and very vivid cultural life. Almost every year, Israel has a candidate for Oscar, many films are winning prizes in Cannes, Berlinale. I think it will be good to get to know not only the political life, but also about how people really live there. As for the economy, I have a book on my table, which is called “Start-up Nation”. It’s about Israel’s innovation. We are not bad at innovations. As a matter of fact, we are number one in producing milk per cow per day – about 35 liters. We are also the number one in re-utilizing water – up to 70% of all city water, rain water, etc is reused, be it agriculture, industrial or domestic use. This makes us by far number one in the world. We have the best water treatment companies in the world since we can filter water very well. I think that every country should take this example of re-using water as many countries suffer water shortage; even Georgia that has enough water can do it. Nowadays, about 1 billion people are hungry in the world. It is impossible to solve the problem of hunger without using innovations in agriculture, water-treatment, food production, high-tech, medicine etc, the world will not be able to meet the demands of the world population and as you know, in 50 years’ time, we’ll have 9 billion people on the globe. The world will need more technology. Georgia also needs new technologies in order to have Georgian products present at supermarkets instead of exported ones – tomatoes, milk, fruits, etc. You have to produce more, as it’s an agricultural country and even export them, but you need modern technologies and know-how. Israeli companies are willing to share their know-how and to have joint ventures with Georgian partners here. There are many interesting programs that will be implemented. Some are in action already – Israeli know-how in poultry, irrigation, growing vegetables and fruits. But not only in agriculture; we could do also in high-tech, in medical equipment. These are things that every modern country needs.  As for methodology, we are organizing trainings and are willing to do much more.

G.J: What should change in the Georgian politics and how feasible is improving our relations with Russia?

Y.F: Israel supported, supports, and will always support the territorial integrity of Georgia. We did not and we will not recognize the independence of Abkhazia and South Ossetia. We are principally against such unilateral declarations of independence and it is our very clear position. At the same time, the most important thing for me personally, is good bilateral relations between Israel and Georgia.

 

 

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