The Spokesperson Of The Ministry Of Foreign Affairs Of Ethiopia, Weekly Press Briefing Summary (May 20, 2021)

The spokesperson of Foreign Affairs of Ethiopia, H.E. Ambassador Dina Mufti, gave the Ministry’s biweekly press briefing today (19 May 2021) to the media. In his presentation, the Ambassador focused on political diplomacy, the situation in Tigray, the upcoming general elections, economic diplomacy and citizen-centered diplomatic activities.

I. Political Diplomacy

  • H.E. President Sahle-Work Zewde was in Uganda to attend the swearing-in ceremony of H.E. Yoweri Museveni. On related news, Prime Minister Dr.Abiy Ahmed attended the inaugural ceremony of the President of the Republic of Djibouti.
  • H.E. President Sahle-Work Zewde participated in a conference organised by French President Emmanuel Macron to crowdfunding financial support to countries in Africa that are affected by the COVID 19 pandemic.
  • Deputy Prime Minister and Foreign Minister H.E. Demeke Mekonnen has participated yesterday in an open Dialogue Session that was organized by the Ministry of Peace in collaboration with the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. The event taking part under the title “Ethiopia in Transition – an open dialogue with the International Community” has brought together participants from the diplomatic community, development partners, experts, and other international bodies. At the occasion he said “as a country which has just embarked upon building a democratic system, we still have a lot to do and are determined to continue to work with all our partners, to ensure that our national reform agenda achieves the critical objectives of overcoming our development challenges and creating a prosperous nation, at peace within itself and its neighbors.”
  • The Ministry of Foreign Affairs in collaboration National Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam Public Participation Coordination Office made a two-day consultation with competing political parties and civic and religious institutions. Discussions were focused on the status of dam’s negotiations, the construction and the support expected from the public. Participants of the forum reaffirmed their commitment to stand together as the issue of the dam is a common agenda. In addition to the people’s political, intellectual and other support, more than 15 billion birr has been raised from Ethiopians at home and abroad. Participants reiterated that political parties and religious institutions will stand with the government to complete the remaining 20 percent of the construction of the dam.
  • H.E. Ambassador Alemayehu Tegenu made a press briefing to a group of Mass Media Outlets. His briefing covered a wide range of issues pertaining to the situations in the northern region of Tigray, the state of negotiation on the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam (GERD), the Ethio-Sudan border issue, the Up-coming 6th Ethiopian General Elections, and the bilateral relations between Ethiopia and the Russian Federation.
  • H.E Yibeltal Aemero, Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of the Federal Democratic Republic of Ethiopia to the Republic of Sudan held discussions with H.E. Dr. Gibril Ibrahim Mohamed, Minister of Finance and Economic Development of the Republic of Sudan on issues of common interest. Ambassador YibeltalAemero stressed that Ethiopia supports and follows positive developments in Sudan with keen interest and underscored the need to overcome current and temporary challenges through negotiation by taking into account the longstanding historic and fraternal relations between Ethiopia and Sudan. H.E Dr. Gibril Ibrahim on his part, mentioning the strong ties between the two countries, stated that any difference between them must be settled peacefully through direct negotiations. H.E the Minister also mentioned the need for avoiding unnecessary media statements. Moreover, the two sides underlined the need to focus and exert all efforts towards economic cooperation between Ethiopia and Sudan as well as bringing about regional integration.
  • H.E. HirutZemene, Ambassador of the Federal Democratic Republic of Ethiopia to Belgium, Luxembourg and EU Institutions presented her letters of credence on Tuesday (May 11) to H.E. Ursula von der Leyen, President of the European Commission. At the occasion, the two sides exchanged views about the current situation in Ethiopia.
  • H.E. Ambassador Shibru Mamo presented in Zoom his letter of credentials to Her.E. Dame Susan Dugan, the Governor General of Saint Vincent and the Grenadines. On the occasion, Ambassador Shibru and Ms. Dame Susan Dugan exchanged views on ways to further strengthen the longstanding bilateral relations between the two countries.
  • The Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of the Federal Democratic Republic of Ethiopia to Kenya, H.E. Meles Alem called on the Secretary General of the East African Community (EAC), Honourable Dr. Peter Mutuku Mathuki to talk about the candidature of Dr. Arkebe Oqubay, for the seat of the Director General of the United Nations Industrial Development Organization (UNIDO) and call on the SG to solicit support from Member States for African Union endorsed and Africa’s sole candidate for the aforementioned position. He told the Ambassador that, the EAC will support the candidate, whose appointment proves to be a key asset in realizing the industrialization agenda of the UN.
  • Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of the Federal Democratic Republic of Ethiopia to the State of Kuwait H.E. Ambassador Hasen Taju met with H.E. Mohammed Ali Moumin, Dean of Arab Ambassadors group and Ambassador of the Republic of Djibouti to Kuwait on May 18, 2021. Ambassador Hasen briefed his Djiboutian counterpart about the GERD and the Tigray region. Mohammed, on his part, said Ethiopia’s peace and stability is very vital to Djibouti and the whole region as well.
  • The Ambassador-designate of the Federal Democratic Republic of Ethiopia to the Republic of Ghana, H. E. Hadera Abera Admasu, has presented a copy of his letter of appointment to the Minister of Foreign Affairs and Regional Integration of the Republic of Ghana, the honourable Shirley Ayorkor Botchwey. The honourable minister expressed her profound thanks for the support provided by the Ethiopian government in the establishment of the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) as well on other important diplomatic backings on many international and regional issues that are very important to the Republic of Ghana, which she said is something one expects from an ally and strategic partner. She also personally thanked H.E Dr. Abey Ahmed, the Prime Minister of Ethiopia for the mobilization and supply of Personal Protection Equipment during the early days of the Corona pandemics as well as the transportation service provided to repatriate Ghanaian nationals to their country.

II. Situations in Tigray

The Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Ethiopia has issued a statement over the week opposing what seems a concerted campaign to exert undue pressure against Ethiopia and to make its position unequivocally clear on some of the most important and salient issues. The statement touched upon five points:

  1. On the Humanitarian response in the Tigray region

The issue of access has already been adequately addressed, what people need now is concrete support.

2. On allegations of human rights abuses

The federal government showed its seriousness over the issue of human rights abuses. Recent investigations and pledges to engage more on the process by the Federal Attorney General, the Federal Police Commission, the Ethiopian Human Rights Commission, the Ethiopian Human Rights Commission and the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights, the African Commission on Human and People’s Rights are manifestations of this commitment. Dwelling on the human right abuse allegations as if the government has done nothing in this regard serves no other purpose than unnecessarily politicizing the issue and exert undue pressure.

3. On calls for Ceasefire and national dialogue

The Ethiopian government has been consciously working to promote national dialogue build the necessary national consensus in the country to chart a better way forward. Various engagements with political parties, civic society and many other groups so far indicate the government’s commitment for peace. However, it should be clear that the push by partners to involve the TPLF, a terrorist group, in this national dialogue process is unacceptable.

4. On allegations of clampdown on dissent

The unwarranted and unsubstantiated allegations on the stifling of dissent and a crackdown on journalists that some media outlets propagate these days while the country gears up to hold national elections, has no other purpose than to tarnish the government’s image and undermine the electoral process. What needs to be made clear here is that the Ethiopian government has no desire to clamp down on dissent. Otherwise, it would not have invited most of the opposition groups and politicians as well as journalists, activists and others who were in exile to return to their country and operate freely. It knows full well that this approach has been tried and tested in the past but failed. The government does not believe that there are journalists or politicians jailed because of their political views and opinions. Those behind the bar are accused of violating the law. Therefore, they will have their day in court and the law will set them free if they are found not guilty. As far as foreign journalists are concerned, the government believes that it is not too much to ask them to strictly abide by the law of the land in carrying out their journalistic work.

5. On attempts to meddle in Ethiopia’s Internal affairs

There have also been repeated attempts to make unwarranted statements on Ethiopia’s internal affairs, particularly in relation to the Amhara regional forces. Ethiopia is a sovereign nation, and it cannot accept any dictates from outside on how to manage its own internal affairs.

III. Elections

  • Reports of some media outlets giving the impression that the government has decided to postpone the election due to internal and external pressures are part of the media disinformation campaign
  • Reports of some media outlets giving the impression that the government has decided to postpone the election indefinitely are also unfounded. Specific dates to run the elections will be disclosed by the NEBE.
  • So far the International Republican Institute (IRI), an American nonprofit, nonpartisan organization, the National Democratic Institute (NDI), a non-partisan, non-profit organization, the African Union, the US and UK embassies in Ethiopia have agreed to deploy election observer missions

IV. Economic Diplomacy

• A steering committee established under the auspices of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Ethiopia to promote and market tourism in Ethiopia has held a meeting yesterday. H.E. State Minister Tsion Teklu chaired the meeting that discussed significant changes made in the sector after the establishment of the committee. The committee comprises 19 relevant organizations and 39 individuals.

• State Minister for Foreign Affairs, H.E. Tsion Teklu has held a discussion with Algeriain pharmaceutical company-ORBIOX-that came to Ethiopia to conduct a pre-investment study.

• Ethiopian Embassy in Brussels hosted an Ethiopian Coffee Cupping event in the presence of professional coffee connoisseurs. The cupping event was organized in cooperation with renowned coffee roasters and tasters. H.E. Ambassador HirutZemene, on her opening remarks, said it was aimed at promoting the different varieties of Ethiopian coffee to Belgian coffee roasters and creating contract-based market linkages between Ethiopian Exporters and Belgian market, which is one of the major destinations of Ethiopian Coffee, she said.

• Consul General of the Federal Democratic Republic of Ethiopia in Guangzhou Ambassador Ewnetu B. Debela met and conferred with Ms.Guo Ningning, Vice Governor of the People’s Government of Fujian Province. They shared ideas to encourage and support Fujian enterprises invest in Ethiopia, to strengthen trade exchanges, to jointly promote tourism resources and establish practical cities to cities friendly twinning.

• Ambassador of Ethiopia to Republic of Cuba, H.E. Shibru Mamo, met with Mrs. Elba Rosa Perez Montoya, Minister of Science, Technology, and Environment (CITMA) of Cuba. During their meeting, the two sides discussed ways to implement the Memorandum of Understanding signed between Ethiopia and Cuba on Science and Technology. They have also deliberated on various issues of cooperation in science and technology including biotechnology, meteorology, and astronomy.

V. Citizen-centered diplomacy

• Ethiopians and people of Ethiopian origin living in Washington DC made a rally calling on some international organizations and countries to stop unduly pressuring the Ethiopian government. Participants at the rally said Ethiopia has the right to maintain its territorial integrity, defend itself from aggressors, and dictations from third parties to do otherwise to a sovereign state should not be acceptable. Referring to the State Department’s recent statement on Ethiopia, they said it was influenced by unsubstantiated TPLF claims and sidelined the historical relationships between the two countries. They further said that the statement has undermined Ethiopia’s sovereignty and did not positively contribute to the peaceful coexistence of people in the country.

• Ethiopians and origins of Ethiopians living in Canada raised 50,000 Canadian Dollars while those in Germany raised more than one million birr to support the construction of the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam.

• 1200 citizens were repatriated from Saudi Arabia, Riyadh

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