Israeli Ambassador to Czechia Anna Azari: The interest in Jewish culture here is sometimes quite amazing

“After the 1968 Soviet-led invasion of Czechoslovakia we always rooted for the Czech hockey team” the Israeli ambassador to Czechia, Anna Azari, says in an interview for Radio Prague International. Azari is a seasoned diplomat with a special interest in Central and Eastern Europe. She was posted to Prague in 2021, to what she calls “the friendliest country for Israel in Europe” and says it is easy for her to feel at home here, despite the fact that Czechs and Israelis are often as different as chalk and cheese.

Ambassador Azari, before coming to Prague you served as Israeli ambassador to Poland, Russia and Ukraine. You know this region and its peoples well. How do you perceive the war that Russia is now waging on Ukraine?

“Well, I perceive it as a huge tragedy, which none of us expected to happen after WWII. There were some signs of banalization of the memory of WWII including the Holocaust. Of course, it is horrible what it going on. By the way, the big tragedy is happening in Ukraine, but I believe that what is going on in Russia is going to change it or even destroy it. So it is a tragic feeling. It is very interesting to be here in the Czech Republic – and I visit Poland often as well because I have family there – and I am really proud for you, for the Czechs and the Poles for how you reacted to this crisis, for the help that is given to refugees and to the country itself. I think it is amazing to watch. Once – that was closer to the beginning of the war when big bulks of people were moving through Europe – I took a train to Warsaw and the train station there, and here as well, was full of volunteers helping people. And, of course, God knows when it is going to end.”

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Author: Daniela Lazarová