The spokesperson of Foreign Affairs of Ethiopia, H.E. Ambassador Dina Mufti, gave the Ministry’s biweekly press briefing today (16 June 2021) to the media. In his presentation, the Ambassador focused on political diplomacy, the Arab league Statement on the GERD, economic diplomacy and citizen-centered diplomatic activities.
I. Political Diplomacy
In a pre-recorded video message, H.E. Demeke Mekonnen , Deputy Prime Minister and Foreign Minister of Ethiopia said Ethiopia is disappointed by the campaign that is being waged against its handling of the situation in the Tigray region. He said what we need now is concrete support and, “a mission to undermine the unity, territorial integrity and the cohesion of the Ethiopian state, under the guise of humanitarian concern” is not acceptable. The Minister included the following main points in his speech:
- Ethiopia is ready to work positively and constructively with all its partners to scale up humanitarian assistance, rebuild social cohesion, and restore basic services in the Tigray region
- We need the support of friends and partners and not uncalled for pressure that would complicate the situation further.
- Attempts to dictate terms to the country in ways that are not helpful and in a condescending approach are not friendly acts.
- Missions to undermine the unity, territorial integrity and the cohesion of the Ethiopian state, under the guise of humanitarian concern are not acceptable
- The accusations labelled against Ethiopia of using hunger as a weapon of war on its own citizens, is an egregious falsehood (we have delivered humanitarian aid to 4.5 million people in the first round and 5.2 million people in the second round working together with 6 operators in the region)
- full and unfettered access for humanitarian actors has been provided through a simplified blanket approval process and in some pocket areas military escort is provided.
- We have credible evidence, indicating that some actors have attempted to smuggle weapons to arm the terrorist cell under the guise of humanitarian assistance which is unacceptable.
- The government is aware of its responsibilities towards its own citizens and its obligations under international humanitarian law and is making every possible effort to accelerate the humanitarian response to reach out to every person in need
- Despite the achievements so far, the support and solidarity of the international community is critical in delivering food and non-food items to those in need in the region. We are grateful to those who lent a helping hand in this regard.
Ethiopia and the European Union have conducted a political consultation as per Article 8 of the Cotonou Partnership Agreement signed between the European Union and the African, Caribbean, and Pacific Group of States (“ACP countries”). Deputy Prime Minister and Foreign Minister of Ethiopia, H.E. Demeke Mekonnen, and EU Ambassador to Ethiopia H.E. Johan Borgstam led the discussion which covered economic and political issues of common concern. The meeting:
- Appreciated the historic partnership between Ethiopia and the EU
- Appreciated the Team Europe Initiative for support of Africa’s recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic
- Agreed to give attention to solutions to observed challenges to foreign investment in Ethiopia.
- Reaffirmed commitment to extend support to Ethiopia’s homegrown economic reform agenda
- In their discussion about the overall situation in Tigray, the Deputy Prime Minister provided updates on the issue of Humanitarian access, agricultural activities in the region with the government’s efforts to provide seeds and fertilizers to farmers, withdrawal of Eritrean troops, and efforts to hold perpetrators of alleged Human Rights violations and atrocities accountable.
- Finally, in their discussion on the upcoming general elections, the Deputy Prime Minister stressed that the Government is committed to making sure that the upcoming election is one of a kind in the country’s political history given the various measures that have been taken, including freedom of association, freedom of speech, freedom of the press, and various legal and structural reforms on matters related to electoral activities.
H.E. Demeke Mekonnen, Deputy Prime Minister and Foreign Minister of Ethiopia has held a virtual discussion on Thursday (June 10) with the Foreign Minister of the Republic of Estonia, H.E. Ms. Eva-Maria Liimets on ways to advance bilateral ties and cooperate on international forums. The two sides agreed to share Estonia’s experience in building a digital economy. Taking into account that Estonia is going to take over the Presidency of the Security Council for the month of June, Deputy Prime Minister Demeke said Ethiopia expects Estonia to play a constructive role on issues related to Ethiopia’s national interest.
Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Foreign Affairs of Ethiopia, H.E. Demeke Mekonnen had a phone call today (June 10) with H.E Mr. Wang Yi, State Councilor and Minister of Foreign Affairs of the People’s Republic of China. The two sides agreed to continue cooperating on fighting COVID 19. Following Mr. Demeke’s briefing over the Tigray issue, Mr. Wang Yi appreciated the efforts of the Ethiopian government to rebuild the region and rebuked attempts to meddle in the internal affairs of the country using humanitarian concerns as a pretext.
A delegation of senior officials led by Ethiopia’s Finance Minister Ahmed Shide comprising Army Chief of Staff General Berhanu Jula and Director General of the National Intelligence and Security Service, Temesgen Tiruneh, met and held talks with President Ismail Omar Guelleh of Djibouti on current regional and bilateral relations. The two sides agreed to cement the strategic relationship between the two countries. President Ismail Omar Guelleh said the relationship between Ethiopia and Djibouti is stronger than ever and commended the Ethiopian government’s efforts to resolve its internal problems.
In related news, Chief of Staff of the National Defense Force of Ethiopia General Berhanu Jula met with his Djiboutian counterpart General Zekaria to discuss ways to further strengthen cooperation between the defense forces of the two countries. The two sides have called for creating more favorable platforms and mechanisms to share information and expertise as well as pursue joint training. The two counterparts have deliberated ways to scale up collaborations to make the Ethio-Djibouti corridor a peaceful zone and agreed to continue holding joint defense meetings annually.
The following High-level government officials have handed over Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed’s message addressed to various leaders of states and governments in Europe.
- A delegation led by H.E. Muferiat Kamil, Minister of Peace of Ethiopia, has handed over Prime Minister H.E. Dr. Abiy Ahmed’s message to the President of the French Republic, H.E. President Emmanuel Macron. President Macron’s special Advisor on African Affairs, H.E. Mr. Franck Paris has received the Prime Minister’s message on behalf of the President.
- Honourable Adem Farah, Speaker of House of Federation of the Federal Democratic Republic of Ethiopia has delivered the message to H.E. Alexander De Croo, Prime Minister of the Kingdom of Belgium and H.E. Xavier Bettel, Prime Minister of the Grand Duchy of Luxembourg. The message was handed over to the Prime Ministers via high level government officials of the two countries.
- A delegation led by H.E Dr. Gedion Timothewos, Attorney General of the Federal Democratic Republic of Ethiopia has delivered on Monday (June 14) a message from Prime Minister Dr. Abiy Ahmed to H.E. Mario Draghi, Prime Minister of the Republic of Italy. The message was handed over through H.E Luigi Di Maio, Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation Minister of the Republic of Italy.
H.E. Dagmawit Moges, Minister of Transport of Ethiopia delivered a special message from HE Dr. Abiy Ahmed to HE Mark Rutte, Prime Minister of the Kingdom of the Netherlands on June 9, 2021. Her excellency met with HE Sigrid Kaag, Minister of Foreign Affairs & Minister for Foreign Trade & Dev’t Cooperation of the Netherlands.
- Last week, an Ethiopian delegation led by Seleshi Bekele, Minister of Water, Irrigation and Energy has paid a visit to the Republic of South Sudan, the Republic of Rwanda, and the Republic of Uganda where he had held discussions with the Presidents of the respective Republics.
During the meetings, the Ethiopian delegation raised the following points:
- the law enforcement measures in Tigray and the current state of affairs in the region, with a special focus on the humanitarian and reconstruction endeavors of the government of Ethiopia.
- the upcoming elections of Ethiopia which is to take place on 21 June 2021and the government’s commitment to make it fair, free, transparent and credible, including the legal and institutional reforms during the pre-election period.
- the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam (GERD) negotiations under the auspices of the African Union (the AU) emphasizing Ethiopia’s position that an African problem must be resolved by African solutions.
- the Ethio-Sudan boundary dispute underscoring Ethiopia’s position that the dispute has to be resolved in dialogue with long-existing bilateral mechanisms while rejecting Sudan’s transgression into areas that were under Ethiopia’s effective control for over a century.
II. On GERD
The Ministry has issued a statement rejecting the Resolution of the League of Arab States on the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam. The statement contains the following main points:
- Ethiopia rejects the “Resolution” in its entirety
- futile attempts to internationalize and politicize the GERD will not lead to sustainable regional cooperation in the utilization and management of the Nile.
- The League of Arab States should know that utilization of the Nile waters is also an existential matter for Ethiopia too.
- Ethiopia firmly believes that it is only through cooperation and dialogue that the water security of any of the Nile Basin states can be achieved.
- the League of Arab States places particular emphasis on the water security of the two downstream countries in complete disregard to the interest of the rest of the Nile riparian states, which are the sources of the river.
- It is the intransigence of both Egypt and the Sudan, which has made it extremely difficult to make any meaningful progress in the tripartite negotiation.
- During the South African-led negotiation, it was Egypt and the Sudan that disrupted the negotiations seven times.
- Ethiopia agreed to seven of the nine proposals contained in the draft communiqué prepared by the DRC, while Egypt and Sudan rejected the substantive parts of the communiqué.
- The two countries worked in concert to ensure the failure of the Kinshasa meeting by raising unrelated procedural issues. It is, therefore, regrettable that the League of Arab States decided to take a position on the AU-led negotiation without verifying the facts.
- The League of Arab States also seems to be oblivious of the fact that the tripartite negotiation between Ethiopia, Egypt and the Sudan are guided by the Declaration of Principles (DoP), which the leaders of the three countries signed in 2015.
- The filling of the GERD will be conducted as per the plan in accordance with the DoP and the recommendation of the research group composed of experts from the three countries.
- Hence, Ethiopia categorically rejects the futile attempt by the League of Arab States to dictate terms regarding the filling of the GERD.
- What is even more disappointing is the attempt by Egypt and the Sudan to unnecessarily politicize the GERD negotiation and try to make it an Arab issue. This clearly shows their lack of fidelity to the AU-led tripartite process. The GERD is an African issue, which needs an African solution.
- Therefore, the League of Arab States should desist from making such unhelpful statements, which will only serve to antagonize the relations between the three countries and undermine the tripartite negotiation.
III. Economic diplomacy
Embassy of Ethiopia in Washington DC hosted a virtual business forum on the theme of “The United States and Ethiopia Business and Investment Opportunities”. The session was organized in collaboration with the Houston International Trade Center and Ethiopia’s Honorary Consul in Houston, Texas. H.E Ambassador Fitsum Arega briefed the participants on the various business and investment opportunities for American companies. Attending the meeting, former U.S. Assistant Secretary of State for African Affairs Tibor Nagy, expressed the importance of enhancing economic relations between Ethiopia and the United States. He also mentioned his strong confidence that Ethiopia will come out of the current challenges and continue being a key economic and security ally to the United States.
The Embassy of Ethiopia in Algiers conducted trade and Investment promotion engagements from June 8-10, 2021 in the commercial cities of Constantine and Skikda, in Algeria. Ambassador of Ethiopia to Algeria, H.E Nebiat Getachew held fruitful discussions with presidents of Chamber of Commerce and Industry and members of the business communities of Constantine and Skikda on ways to boost trade and investment ties between Ethiopia and Algeria. The Ambassador on the occasion made a field visit to Huff Pharmaceuticals and Algeria Animal Health Products and held fruitful discussions with the owners and gave a briefing on Ethiopia’s investment opportunities in the sector. The companies have agreed to a pre-Investment visit to Ethiopia.
IV. Citizen Centered Diplomacy
The “Defend Ethiopia” task force in collaboration with Ethiopians and Eritreans living in the UK and the Ethiopian Embassy in London have organized and made a rally in Cornwell, South West England that hosts the G7 countries summit to protest the undue pressure on Ethiopia that compromises the country’s sovereignty.
Ethiopians living in South Africa rallied in Pretoria to thank all, including the government of South Africa who stood by Ethiopia in its critical times, to call on others to respect the country’s right to handle its internal affairs, and to show support to all of the encouraging efforts that the federal government of Ethiopia is doing to see a developed and unified nation.
980 Ethiopians have been repatriated from Saudi Arabia and Oman