Palestine is an ancient country, but at the same time il is a relatively young state. What exactly does it connect with Ukraine? How can Ukraine and Palestine benefit each other? About this, and about other interesting things, we are talking with the Plenipotentiary and Extraordinary Ambassador of Palestine to Ukraine, Mr. Mohammed Al-Asaad.
Tell us, please, about the history of the Palestinian-Ukrainian bilateral relations.
– While Ukraine was still part of the USSR, but had full membership in the UN, it was then that it recognized the proclamation of the State of Palestine. When Ukraine gained its independence, it continued to support us. Since 2008, the representation of Ukraine in the city of Ramallah, which we call the Embassy, has been functioning.
When the Embassy of Palestine started to work in our country?
– In 2001. We respect and love Ukraine. This is a rich country in which there is a good people deserving peace. You have a real wealth – it’s your black earth, not to mention the minerals. Therefore, it is really a great honor for us to be your friends and reliable economic partners.
Which directions would you prioritize in the relations between our two countries?
– If we talk about Palestine, then we must mention tourism in the first place. Many Ukrainians come to us as the tourists. They are special tourists. These are the pilgrims visiting the saint cities for the Christians – Bethlehem and Jerusalem. Each year the number of pilgrims reaches approximately 170 thousand people. Also, we are interested in cooperation in agriculture in Ukraine, we buy grain from you. However, not only this. The products of the metallurgical industry, in particular armature, we buy in Ukraine. Unfortunately, there is no large airport in Palestine. But life changes fast, so we hope that in the future we can cooperate also in the aviation industry.
Фото Fashion of Diplomacy
We are talking to you at the end of 2017. Which events have become the most significant for Ukrainian-Palestinian cooperation during this year?
– In my opinion, one should especially note the fact that Palestinian entrepreneurs began to invest in the Ukrainian economy. It’s about the pharmaceutical industry. Our entrepreneurs began to actively invest in the production of medicines in Ukraine. And this fact pleases all of us indeed.
How significant is the position of our state in the settlement of the Middle East armed conflict?
– Very important. Not only Palestine, but the entire Arab world, has listened to, listens to and will listen to Ukraine in the future. Canada, the UK, the EU and Ukraine always insist that the Middle East conflict must be resolved in accordance with international law, and not in accordance with the law of the jungle. Ukraine has always supported the postulate of two states -Palestinian and Israeli. We know how Ukraine is voting in all international organizations and we appreciate its support.
In connection with the decision of the US president regarding the status of the city of Jerusalem, what reaction did you expect from Ukraine? After all, Ukraine did not take part in the voting…
– I have no right to be in charge of Ukraine’s position, but I can note that Ukraine has always voted in favor of a principled position on the Palestinian issue, and I can emphasize that in December 2016 Ukraine voted for Resolution 2334. I remind you that during the voting, the US representative Mrs. Nikki Hayley expressed her views on those countries that will support the UN bill. However, we have never said that we have to seize Jerusalem for ourselves. Jerusalem is not an ordinary city. It is a holy city for both Christians and Muslims. We advocate that East Jerusalem must be the capital of Palestine, and the Western one must be the capital of Israel. Again, I emphasize that the question of the status of the holy city of Jerusalem should be resolved in accordance with the rules of international law, and not in accordance with the rules of law of force.
What were your first impressions of our country?
– I’ve known Ukraine for a long time and I love your country for a long time. During the Soviet era, I was director of the Cultural Palestinian Center in Moscow, and, in particular, I took care of Palestinian students that studied in the USSR. In general, there were about 12 thousand of them. Most of them studied in Ukraine. Therefore, I often visited Ukraine, opened exhibitions, and so on. I liked your country right away. You know, recently I was at an economic forum in Kherson and I said that it is not necessary to go for vacation to a beautiful country like Switzerland or another country of the world, because you here in Ukraine have your own Switzerland.
Do you travel a lot through Ukraine?
– Yes of course. I visited all major cities – from Kharkiv to Lviv. Ukraine is really amazing.
What do you like most of all in our country?
– The greatest treasure of each country is its people. In Ukraine there are wonderful people and therefore on the eve of New Year and Christmas holidays I would like to wish happiness, peace and prosperity. I really want everything to be good in your country…