The spokesperson of The Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Ethiopia, H.E. Ambassador Dina Mufti, gave the Ministry’s biweekly press briefing today (10 June 2021) to the media. In his presentation, the Ambassador focused on political diplomacy (with a special attention to the visit of the President of Kenya to Ethiopia to preside over the signing of the telecom operating licensing agreement and the high-level meeting of the federal government and humanitarian partners on Tigray), Economic diplomacy, citizen-centered diplomacy and capacity building activities.
I. Political Diplomacy
Prime Minister H.E. Dr. Abiy Ahmed and high-level Ethiopian government officials have warmly received H.E. Uhuru Muigai Kenyatta, President of the Republic of Kenya upon his arrival at Bole International Airport yesterday. The two leaders were present at the signing of the telecom operating licensing agreement between the Government of Ethiopia and – the Winning Consortium- the Global Partnership for Ethiopia (Safaricom, Sumitomo, Vodacom, Vodafone, and CDC Group)
- As Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed said, the government kept its promise to end a decades-long monopoly in the sector, liberalize and open it up to both domestic and foreign investment a major policy shift in Ethiopia!
- As Minister of Finance Ahmed Shide said during the ceremony, the agreement is just an early step and Ethiopia will continue to work collaboratively with partners and investors to build a modern and open telecommunications sector to improve connectivity, productivity and economic growth in the country.
- The agreement will increase competition in the telecom market that will help people get better services with cheaper prices, enhance electronic-business, education, health, agriculture, finance & invite more investment to the country.
- The consortium paid $850 million for the license, is expected to introduce new services and infrastructure improvements.
- The investors will create up to 1.5 million new jobs in Ethiopia and bring $8.5 billion in investment over 10 years.
Deputy Prime Minister and Foreign Minister, H.E. Demeke Mekonnen has presided over the consultative meeting that aimed at assessing the progress achieved and the challenges observed regarding outstanding issues in Tigray that followed the law enforcement operation in the region. Ambassadors of partner countries, government officials, UN representatives, humanitarian partners, and Government officials, including Minister of Peace, H.E. Muferihat Kamil, Minister of Defence, H.E. Kenea Yadeta, Head of Tigray Region Administration, Dr. Abraham Belay, Director General of Information Network Security Agency, Dr. Shumete Gizaw, Commissioner for the National Disaster Risk Management Commission, Mr. Mitiku Kassa, and General Alemeshet Degefe have participated in the meeting. The main points during the meeting were:
- denying the progress achieved so far by sticking to unfounded claims is morally, politically, and legally unacceptable.
- The government, with a lion’s share, has addressed the humanitarian needs of 4.5 million people in the first round of aid while a total of 4.9 million people were reached in the second and third rounds.
- the government has taken the initiative to facilitate dialogue with the Amhara and Tigray regional states to resettle IDPs that were displaced from Western Tigray.
- Aside from establishing centers for mobile health services, 46.5% of the health centers in the region are made functional so far.
- some schools have been occupied by IDPs as makeshift shelters where the government is working to relocating them to better areas.
- The government is providing seeds and farming equipment to farmers, where 70%of the land has been made ready for cultivation involving 1.2 million farmers in the region.
- some factories in the region, including textile and cement factories have already started operation and exporting products (the textile factories, in this case).
- the military, the federal and regional justice systems are working in concert, where 60 suspected soldiers were brought to justice, of whom some are convicted and sentenced subsequently.
- among the challenges observed in the region, the most crucial ones are the unverified reports that misrepresented the facts on the ground and misunderstandings by humanitarian partners on the security concerns of military personnel at some checkpoints as facts for denial of access to the region.
- the process of withdrawing Eritrean troops has already begun.
- TPLF is not in a position to fight the Ethiopian Defence Forces although it sparks sporadic clashes at very few pocket areas.
- by causing troubles in some pocket areas, such as the West of Maichew, Bora, and Temben, the terrorist group has tried to impede access to humanitarian support envisaging famine in the areas as a political strategy to garner support from aggrieved people.
- The Ethiopian Defense Forces are well known for taking military discipline very seriously as witnessed in serving in various UN peacekeeping missions, and there is no reason for our soldiers to go wild and be lenient when it comes to protecting the well-being of our own people in Tigray.
- quests by the humanitarian agencies to possess gadgets that should only be restricted to military personnel are not acceptable.
- the government should have announced the misuse of privileges by some aid agencies that were caught while attempting to transport ammunition to the terrorist group and unduly repressing and firing Ethiopian staffers in their organizations.
- the federal and regional governments have been using their scarce resources to rebuild most of the infrastructures and public services, such as telecommunication, electricity, banking, and financial services that were destroyed by TPLF.
- So what the people of Tigray need now is material and financial support,
- The meeting also discussed the possibilities of opening Shire and Humera Airports, including the modalities required to extend visas granted to aid agencies.
In delivering concluding remarks, Mr. Demeke said the government will facilitate similar consultative platforms soon adding that it is committed to getting the region into normalcy by making an all-inclusive dialogue with stakeholders.
Ambassador Raychelle Omamo, Cabinet Secretary for Foreign Affairs of Kenya arrived on Tuesday in Addis Ababa for a working visit to Ethiopia. Upon her arrival at Bole International Airport, the Cabinet Secretary was accorded a warm welcome by H.E. Ambassador Birtukan Ayano, State Minister of the Foreign Affairs of Ethiopia.
State Minister H.E. Ambassador Redwan Hussien on Monday (June 07) warmly welcomed to his office, H.E. Ambassador Raychelle Omamo, Cabinet Secretary for Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Kenya to discuss bilateral relations and issues of common concern between the two countries. Ambassador Redwan has briefed the Cabinet Secretary on critical issues in Ethiopia, particularly Ethiopia’s commitment to getting peaceful resolutions to the GERD negotiations and the Ethio-Sudan border dispute. He also said Ethiopia is committed to holding free, fair, transparent and credible general elections. Ambassador Raychelle Omamo, on her part, appreciated State Minister Redwan for the briefings and highlighted her country’s belief that issues of regional concerns should get resolutions under the principle of “African solutions to African problems.”
In a discussion held on Thursday (June 03, 2021) between Djiboutian Foreign Minister Mahamoud Ali Youssouf and Ethiopian Ambassador to Djibouti, Berhanu Tsegaye, the Minister reiterated that his government attaches higher importance to its ties with Ethiopia. Foreign Minister Mahamoud added, Ethiopia and Djibouti have a strong relationship that set an example for other neighboring countries. Minister Mahmoud affirmed his government’s readiness to upscale the ties to a high gear in multifaceted arrays. Ambassador Berhanu shared updates on developments giving particular emphasis to the situations in Tigray, the upcoming National Election and the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam.
The Ethiopian Embassy in London, UK has issued a statement on Allegations of the Use of “Starvation as a Weapon of War” in Tigray. It says, “With the Government’s continued provision of food assistance to the Region, allegations of starvation being used as a weapon of war are unfounded and politically motivated. The concoction of figures and stories to push a particular global narrative does not serve the people of Tigray in whose name the fabrications are spun for fundraising, relevance, and other interests.”
H.E. Ambassador Deriba Kuma has conferred with Mr. Tue Krarup-Pedersen, Acting Director for the Africa Policy and Development Department at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Denmark. The two have had a candid discussion on national and regional issues of utmost importance notably on the humanitarian relief effort in the Tigray region, the upcoming general election in Ethiopia and the peace and security situation in the Horn of Africa.
Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of the Federal Democratic Republic of Ethiopia, H.E. Ambassador Melaku Legesse presented on Friday (June 04) his credentials to the President of the Republic of Senegal, H.E. Macky Sall. In their discussion, President Macky Sall, mentioned the importance of solving the issues of GERD through dialogue and negotiation. The President also suggested the three countries (Ethiopia, Sudan, and Egypt) use the experience of the Senegal River Basin Development Organization (OMVS) which includes Guinea, Mali, Mauritania, and Senegal, and establishing cooperative management that serves the common goals of the riparian countries.
H.E. Ambassador Million Samuel, Ambassador-designate of the Federal Democratic Republic of Ethiopia to the Republic of Estonia, resident in The Hague, The Netherlands, presented his Letter of Credence to H.E. Kersti Kaljulaid, President of the Republic of Estonia on Thursday, June 03, 2021. Ambassador Million Samuel also met and held discussions with several Estonian officials during his stay in Tallinn, Estonia for the presentation of his credentials accrediting him as Ethiopia’s Ambassador to the Republic of Estonia. In this connection, Ambassador Million met with Chairman of the Foreign Affairs Committee of the Estonian parliament, Political Director at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MFA), Director of Middle East, Africa and Latin America in MFA, and Ambassador-at-large for Digital Affairs in MFA. Estonian officials have expressed their desire to enhance bilateral relations and to work closely with Ethiopia in understanding regional issues in light of Estonia’s current position as a non permanent member of the United Nation Security Council.
H.E. Ambassador Hassen Taju, Ambassador-designate of the Federal Democratic Republic of Ethiopia to the Republic of Iraq, resident in Kuwait City, presented his Letter of Credence to H.E. Barham Salih, President of the Republic of Iraq on Tuesday (June 01).Following the ceremony of presentation of credentials, H.E. Ambassador Hassen and H.E. President Barham held a brief discussion on strengthening the bilateral relations between the two countries. Ambassador Hassen briefed H.E. the President the current situation in Ethiopia, the trilateral negotiations on the GERD and other related issues of mutual concerns.
II. Updates on Tigray
- Education in Mekelle has already started. About 32 public and 30 private schools have resumed the teaching-learning process. Schools in other parts of Tigray will be opened soon.
- Agricultural activities are well underway in the region. But there are gaps between the demand for improved seeds and fertilizers which needs concerted efforts between stakeholders.
III. Citizen centered diplomacy
Ethiopian Embassy in Canada in collaboration with Alliance for GERD in Canada, Alberta chapter raised more than 140,000 Canadian dollars in a fundraising event that was held on Saturday. Ethiopians and people of Ethiopian descent in Alberta have donated 25,000 Canadian dollars previously. Ethiopia’s Ambassador to Canada, H.E. Nassise Chali appreciated the ongoing fundraising campaign for the construction of the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam which raised $ 300,000 so far. Ambassador Nassise further stressed the need to stand together to fend off pressures that compromise the sovereignty of Ethiopia.
Ethiopian Ambassador in Kuwait, H.E. Hassen Taju has paid a visit to 22 Ethiopian domestic workers who are taking a sewing training in Kuwait that is provided by Ethiopian Community in Kuwait in collaboration with Sandigan Kuwait, a charity organization. The training is provided to the Ethiopians to help them achieve lifelong skills during their spare time. The Ambassador expressed his delight to see such encouraging initiatives and pledged to extend support from the Embassy.
A two-month fundraising and awareness campaign on GERD has been launched in the United Kingdom and Ireland under the theme, “GERD: Hope for Development and Growth”. The Ethiopian Reconciliation and Peace Coalition in the United Kingdom, the Defend Ethiopia Task Force, and civil society organizations in the United Kingdom and Ireland launched the campaign in collaboration with the Ethiopian Embassy in London.
1136 Ethiopians were repatriated from Saudi Arabia, and discussions are underway to repatriate Ethiopians stranded in Yemen.
IV. Economic Diplomacy
Ambassador Kassa Teklebirhan met with TOSHIKAZU “KAZ” NAMBU, Executive Vice President of Sumitomo Corporation. The Vice President expressed his happiness that Sumitomo Corporation won the award of a Full-Service Telecommunications License in Ethiopia along with its international partners. He also thanked the Government of Ethiopia for transparently handling the bidding process. Ambassador Kassa congratulated the corporation for winning the bid and extended his appeal that the corporation replicates the practice of expanding business and investment endeavors in sectors of its specialization in Japan, Asia, and Africa. The corporation vowed to invest more than two billion USD in the coming five years in the telecom sector.
The Ethiopian embassy in The Hague, the Netherlands has participated in the Annual Vakantiebeurs 2021 Virtual Tourism Exhibition that was held from 3 to 5 June in collaboration with National tour agencies like FKLM Tours, Ethiopian Traditions Travel and Semien Eco Tour. At the exhibition, the Embassy rented an advertising page, displayed videos and photographs highlighting Ethiopia’s history, culture, and natural attractions as well as providing visitors with up-to-date information on tourism activities in the country.
V. Capacity Building
Staffers of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs have paid a two-day visit to various institutions in Addis Ababa, including the Ethiopian Information Network Security Agency, Ministry of Defense Headquarters, Entoto Park, Meskel Square and Sheger Park Projects. Speaking at the conclusion of the visit, State Minister for Foreign Affairs, H.E. Ambassador Birtukan Ayano said the visit was organized to share successful experiences from the spectacular projects.
Researchers at the Institute of Strategic Affairs (ISA) have tabled the findings of two of their studies that probed into the opportunities and challenges of the upcoming general elections in Ethiopia. Moderating the session held at the premises of the Foreign Affairs of Ethiopia, ISA Director General, H.E. Yohannes Buayalew said the studies are helpful not only in appreciating all the positive efforts of stakeholders but also in identifying major issues that need to be managed to accentuate ongoing efforts in building a democratic nation. The research findings indicated that maximizing opportunities and minimizing barriers to making the upcoming general elections free and fair is the responsibility of stakeholders ranging from competing political parties, the media, civic society, NEBE, security officers, and the public at large.