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On the 17th of June 2016, a discussion was held at the Residence of the State of Israel with His Excellency Mr Gary Koren, Ambassador of the State of Israel to the Czech Republic about Israel, the situation in the Middle East and the current state of relations between our countries.

Owing to another engagement, the Ambassador was only able to speak with us for around thirty minutes, but His Excellency’s discussion and speech was, nonetheless, immensely enlightening. His Excellency’s speaker, who took over after his departure from the meeting, was the Deputy Ambassador, who spent eight years in the army and was a former captain, and had previous diplomatic postings in Baku and Seoul before coming to Prague.

His Excellency Mr Gary Koren spoke mostly about the history of Israel’s relations with the Czech Republic, the role and daily working life of the diplomat and also briefly outlined Israel’s positions on the conflict, peace and security concerns.

The Ambassador made a striking comment on Israel’s relationship with the European Union: “Dealing with member states is not a problem. But dealing with Brussels is a problem, firstly because of bureaucracy and secondly because of ideology.”

Topics covered included, principally, Iran, Palestine, Israel and her Embassy in Prague. Firstly we talked about the Middle East and how the region is still dominated by unstable dictatorships and monarchies. In general, the Middle East is still under the ‘reign’ of very unstable regimes, which means that Israel has to be strong and self-confident as weaker minorities will not survive in this neighbourhood. Israel regards Iran to be its main threat in the region, as the Islamic Republic is a strong theocracy (and notably is still carrying out executions despite the election of a purportedly moderate new President), and is also pressing ahead with its nuclear programme. The story of the Palestinians is one of ‘missed opportunities’ because they have never been prepared to to recognise the State of Israel. They are divided into two different nations because of bad leadership of their government, and they continue to practise very aggressive incitement in education beginning from elementary school, and suffer from a lack of understanding of global peace in the world.

Israel has created a new program called the ‘working holiday program’ to create opportunities to travel there and have a taste of Israeli culture, not only from work experience but also from sight-seeing tours. Israel and the Czech Republic have a bilateral agreement which has been maintained only through the very good diplomatic relationships between the two countries. They place a strong emphasis upon scientific research and development as may be seen in their recent creation of opportunities for three hundred hi-tech firms. They also try to cooperate strongly on cyber-security and other areas relating to the ‘new age’ of technology that will be integral now and in the coming years.

After two hours of discussion with Deputy Ambassador, two more members of staff from the Israeli Embassy team – the media director and administrator manager – came to join to our debate. We started discussing public relations and cultural events that the Israeli Embassy in the Czech Republic creates, and its cultural and diplomatic relations with other Embassies in and around Prague.

On the whole, the meeting was a very enlightening one, equipping us with a lot of information that cannot be gleaned from the internet or in books. We are very glad to have taken the opportunity to visit the Israeli residence and talk with His Excellency and the Deputy Ambassadors about global affairs, international relations across the Middle East and especially about the current state of relations between our countries.

Dipomatic Academy Prague