The visit of the Togolese President to Israel last week has proven to be quit beneficial. The visit allowed to bolster political and economic ties and to identify new areas for cooperation in the fields of agriculture, education, health and security.
Lome is slated to host the first Africa-Israel Summit next year and assume of leadership of a group of Israel's friends in West Africa. Such affirmations are confirmed in the interview to be found below with FM Robert Dussey.
Republicoftogo.com : What conclusions can be drawn from President Gnassingbe's recent visit to Israel?
Robert Dussey : First of all, allow me to remind you that this was the President's second visit in less than four years.
The objective is to bolster bilateral ties on the economic and political level as well as on the level of technical cooperation.
Israel can- and in fact already does - significantly contribute in the field of farming expertise. Indeed, Mashav, the Israeli Agency for International Cooperation, has already trained several hundred young Togolese. In addition the trip allowed to open several new opportunities of increased cooperation over health, training and education matters.
The visit truly was the symbol of a new era between Lome and Jerusalem.
Republicoftogo.com : Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu lauded, in very warm terms, Togo's policy towards Israel
Robert Dussey : The President strongly appreciated Mr. Netanyahu's declarations. Togo has opted for an balanced Middle East policy which, we believe, favors opportunities for peace. It is in the spirit that Togo abstains or votes against resolutions of international organizations that we deem to be excessive and counter-productive.
We aim for a goal-oriented and pragmatic foreign policy.
Republicoftogo.com : While visiting the Golan Heights, the President could appreciate Israel's uniquely precarious security situation
Robert Dussey : Indeed. We witnessed clashes unfolding between Syrian governmental forces and rebels a mere couple hundred meters from the Israeli border.
The Syrian conflict and preserving quiet in Israel's north constitutes a daily challenge for the IDF. As such, it is critical to rapidly reach a solution to the war devastating Syria.
At the same time, we witnessed symbols of hope. Thousands of wounded Syrians- civilians and fighters alike- have been treated by the IDF and admitted in localized hospitals.
President Gnassingbe paid a visit to such a hospital in the town of Safed. There Jewish, Christian, Druze and Muslim doctors indiscriminately treat Islamist fighters and Syrian children. At the expense of the Israeli taxpayer and without asking them who they are and whom they are fighting.
This is very symbolic. This moving and humanist operation demonstrates that everything remains possible in this troubled region. As such, the Jewish state is the trailblazer of hope in the Middle East.
Republicoftogo.com : The official press release issued at the end of the visit mentions that an Africa-Israel Summit will be held in Lome.
Robert Dussey : Indeed, the President suggested such a venue to PM Netanyahu who warmly welcomed it. We wish to organize it in the Togolese capital next year the first summit that will bring together African and ECOWAS, among others, with Israeli dignitaries in order to create a sustainable network of cooperation and development. Centered around political, diplomatic and business matters, the Summit also aims to foster an invaluable platform for trade and business between our continent and the State of Israel.
This bold and daring initiative will express the dynamism of Togolese diplomacy.
Republicoftogo.com : One of Israels leading news outlet, the Jerusalem Post, affirmed that Togo aims to be the " hub of friendship between Israel and Africa".
Robert Dussey : Yes, that that is quite correct. First of all Togo enjoys an ancient and sincere friendship with the State of Israel and we see eye to eye with the Israelis on a wide array of issues. Furthermore, Togo, thanks to the initiatives and vision of President Gnassingbe, enjoys legitimacy and prestige in the region and among regional institutions as well as on the continent at large.
Therefore, the Africa-Israel Summit will be a unique and historic occasion to consolidate the rapprochement between the continent and the Jewish state and to accelerate the development of our nation thanks to Israeli technology and expertise.