The spokesperson of The Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Ethiopia, Ambassador Dina Mufti, gave the Ministry’s fortnight press briefing to the media. In his presentation, the Ambassador focused on the diplomatic activities of Demeke Mekonnen, Deputy Prime Minister and Foreign Minister of Ethiopia, current developments on the Ethiopia-Sudan border issue, the GERD negotiation and the recent irregularities on Sudan’s stance, the claims of some reports on the involvement of third parties Eritrea in the law enforcement operation in Tigray, economic and citizen-centered diplomatic activities within the past two weeks. According to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Ethiopia, here is the summary of the briefing.
- Diplomatic activities by Deputy Prime Minister and Foreign Minister of Ethiopia, Demeke Mekonnen
- Demeke Mekonnen, Deputy Prime Minister and Foreign Minister of Ethiopia met on Thursday met with the #Austrian Foreign Minister, H.E. Alexander Schallenberg, and exchanged views on a wide range of issues including the current situation in Tigray and developments in the Sub-region.
- Demeke Mekonnnen, Deputy prime Minister and Minister for Foreign Affairs of Ethiopia welcomed last week on Thursday, the People’s Republic of China’s ambassador to Ethiopia, H.E. Zhao Zhiyuan. The two have held a fruitful discussion on some principal issues, notably on the COVID19 pandemic, the GERD, and the latest developments in Tigray.
II.Ethio-Sudan border issue
- Media are reporting that some Sudanese military officials are claiming to have got consent from the Ethiopian side to let the Sudanese army occupy the Ethiopian border areas as part of the scheme to support the law enforcement operation in Tigray. Ethiopia appreciates the Sudanese government for its cooperation with the government of Ethiopia during the former’s efforts in enforcing law and order in the country. However, it was surprising to see the Sudanese military misconstruing the friendly talks for cooperation along the borderlines of Ethiopia as a green light to encroach into Ethiopian lands. It should be clear that our government is responsible and sensitive to the sovereignty of the country and could not agree, by any means, to let a third party occupy Ethiopian lands.
- We have heard that some countries have expressed readiness to mediate between Sudan and Ethiopia on the border issues. Ethiopia appreciates such initiatives but it has never closed the opportunity to resolve the matter through bilateral dialogue with Sudan. We have never had refused to talk to Sudan and solve the issue in a civilized manner. In this regard, as we have repeatedly said, had it not been for our firm stand to carry out negotiations with Sudan on the border issues, it would have been relevant to invite third parties to mediate the two countries.
- Ethiopia still believes that there is no need for the flaring up of boundary issues with Sudan since the issue can get a peaceful resolution through dialogue. However, it is undeniable that we felt betrayed and backstabbed by the army of a friendly country.
- The Sudanese Army took advantage of the internal situation in Ethiopia to enter inside Ethiopian territory and loot property, burn civilian camps, kill, attack, and displace Ethiopians. This does not commensurate with the longstanding fraternal relationship that the two countries have.
- Ethiopia strongly believes that the recent action of Sudan’s military will not serve the interest of the Sudanese people but the interests of third parties that calculated to profit out of the mutual destabilization of the two countries.
- We insist that the Sudanese army should go back to where it was before the invasion of our lands (i.e., November 06) as per the 1972 Exchange of Notes between the Foreign Ministers of the two countries that inked the agreement to keep the status quo in the area.
III. The GERD negotiation and irregularities of Sudan’s stances
- Almost all of the major issues that concern Sudan regarding the dam have been addressed by Ethiopia. For instance,
- Ethiopia has initiated and cooperated with Sudan and Egypt to establish the International panel of experts that can present findings that are reliable, unbiased, and scientific regarding the effects of the construction of the dam
- The dam has been proved to lessen the effects of the recurring flooding in Sudan
- The dam will also provide a cheap and environmentally friendly source of energy
- Due to regulated water flows, Sudan is expected to expand its agriculture
- The dam will reduce sedimentation in Sudanese farmlands
- Upon the request of the Sudanese regarding the dam’s safety, Ethiopia has exchanged data with Sudan
- Thus, Ethiopia believes that some irregularities in the recent Sudanese actions on the GERD negotiations do not emanate from the inherent needs of the people of Sudan
- As to Ethiopia, we are committed to continuing the building of the dam and the negotiation too
IIII. Claims on the involvement of Eritrean Soldiers in the military operation
- We have seen reports about Eritrean troops that have crossed into Ethiopia to help the government of Ethiopia during its law enforcement operation in Tigray and the measures taken against the Tigray People’s Liberation Front (TPLF). We are also witnessing similar reports about Somalian soldiers participating in the same campaign. Both of these claims are false and unfounded. The ENDF has a track record of supporting the peacekeeping and peacebuilding efforts of the UN, let alone carrying out law enforcement operations domestically. Thus, there has never been a need from the Ethiopian side to request a third party’s involvement in the matter. The issue has been entertained by some circles that wanted to portray the operation as a regional-level conflict.
- However, regarding the involvement of Eritrean soldiers, in particular, it is expected (and should not be surprising) to see the deployment of Eritrean soldiers by the Eritrean government around its border areas with Ethiopia, given the belligerent attitude of the TPLF clique that had posed an imminent danger to the sovereignty of Eritrea by launching missiles to civilian sites in Asmara.
- Economic and citizen-centered diplomatic activities
- Ethiopian Embassy in Algiers in collaboration with key stakeholders hosted a Webinar Trade Promotion event on January 18, 2021. About 62 participants drawn from the business communities of both countries and officials took part in the event where Tsion Teklu, State Minister for Economic Diplomacy and Diaspora Affairs explained to the Algerian business community the benefits of investing in Ethiopia.
- Ambassador of Ethiopia to the Kingdom of Belgium, Luxembourg, and the EU institutions, Hirut Zemene, held a discussion on Monday (January 11) with Delattere Dominique, Head of Africa and the Middle East at Wallonia Import-Export Agency (AWEX), about business opportunities in Ethiopia. The two sides agreed to explore areas of cooperation in joint promotion events as well as helping Wallonian companies to get pertinent information about opportunities for investment in Ethiopia.
- The FDRE Embassy in Djibouti, in collaboration with the relevant government bodies, mainly the FDRE Ministry of Transport, the Attorney General, and the Federal Police, has facilitated the repatriation of 179 trucks of Trans Ethiopia that were parked illegally in Djibouti. It is recalled that the Federal High Court of Ethiopia has ordered the repatriation of the trucks in Djibouti on suspicion of Trans Ethiopia of financing terrorism, money laundering, treason, and armed robbery.
- Three hundred thirty-six (336) Ethiopian citizens have been repatriated on Monday (January 18) from Saudi Arabia.