Bratislava, Slovakia – Slovakia has announced its plans to open a Slovak Institute in Jerusalem in a move seen as a victory for Israel’s campaign against international refusal to recognize the Holy City as the capital of the Jewish state.
The new diplomatic mission, which will now fall under the country’s Foreign Ministry, will open on September 1.
Minister of Foreign and European Affairs Ivan Korcok posted the announcement on Twitter, saying that the institute represents “deepening relations” with the Jewish state. He carefully added that the Central European nation supports resuming the Middle East peace process and a two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
Israel’s Foreign Minister Yair Lapid rapidly thanked Korcok, saying the move is a “symbol of your friendship and it will serve to strengthen the relations between our countries.”
The announcement comes just two days after Korcok and Lapid met in Brussels during Lapid’s diplomatic visit to the EU aimed at strengthening ties with European Union countries after the new Israeli government was sworn in last month.
A number of EU countries, including Hungary and the Czech Republic, have recently strengthened their diplomatic presence in the Holy City, claimed by both Israelis and Palestinians as their capital, although none of them has gone so far as to establish their embassy there – a measure that would go against the EU’s official position.
The United States and Guatemala are at present the only countries to have their embassies in Jerusalem, although a number of other states in Europe and South America said they were considering the move.
The international community still largely refuses to recognize Jerusalem as the capital of Israel. Given the city’s disputed status and sensitivity in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, most countries with embassies in Israel have opened them in its commercial capital of Tel Aviv.
But in 2017, the United States controversially announced they would be moving their embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem, thus officially recognizing the Holy City as the capital of Israel.
The EU has refused to take such a step, arguing that the two-state solution remains the only path to resolving the conflict between Israelis and Palestinians and that recognizing Jerusalem as the official capital of Israel would derail international negotiations.
Slovakia and Israel recently cooperated on the security front with Israel’s Defense Ministry signing a deal to deliver 17 radar systems produced by Israel Aerospace Industries to the Slovak Defense Ministry. The pact was worth an estimated €148 million ($175 million).