(Communicated by the Office of the President)
President Shimon Peres met this morning (Tuesday 24 July 2012) with Zevadia Belaynesh, Israel's first Ethiopian-born ambassador, who will be departing shortly to head Israel’s embassy in Addis Ababa.
It was the president’s request to personally wish the new ambassador the best of luck in her important position, and, at the beginning of the meeting stated: "I am very proud of you and your work. You are the first blossom of the Ethiopian community - I am full of pride, and the entire nation congratulates you. You did not receive anything for free; all your achievements are the result of hard work. You stand today facing an historic mission, and there is no doubt that you are the right person to fulfill it successfully, an ambassador who is deeply acquainted with both countries, including the languages, the culture and our shared history.”
Ambassador Belaynesh thanked President Peres warmly, and told him that "For me, this represents closure. You received me as a foreign ministry cadet when you served as foreign minister, you were the guest of honor at my wedding, and now you are sending me to represent the State of Israel in my home country. For me this is an enormous honor, the peak of emotion in my life. I left Ethiopia as a girl and now I am returning as ambassador."
President Peres emphasized that “Ethiopian immigrants hold key position in Israeli society, whether in the army, in academia, in high-tech, in medicine and now in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. Nevertheless, sometimes manifestations of discrimination and racism appear in our country. We must not, as a nation, close our eyes to this. We must not ignore this. Racism and discrimination are opposed to the essence of the Jewish people."
Ambassador Belaynesh added: "I intend to justify my appointment as ambassador, and to apply my best efforts to promote cooperation between Israel and Ethiopia. I have already had a range of meetings with investors and Israeli companies interested in promoting investments in technology, healthcare and education. It is my intention to assist and provide close support to companies interested in investing in Ethiopia, whether through language, culture and market requirements."
President Peres thanked Ambassador Belaynesh, and stated: "Ethiopia is an extraordinary country. The State of Israel will do all in its power to assist Ethiopia’s economic growth and poverty eradication. I welcome all activities of Israeli companies in Ethiopia."