The AU’s Peace and Security Council and the U Security Council Consider Somalia’s Tragic Paradox
The Somali problem continues unabated. The setback to Al-Shabaab during its Ramadan offensive created opportunities for the TFG to expand its areas of control in Mogadishu and surrounding areas. Al-Shabaab was forced to pull out of various parts of the capital, but this did not prevent it losing ground in Belet Weyn and its surrounding areas, as well as in the central region of Galgudud. Its forces were also ambushed twice on the road to El-buur this week and suffered heavy losses at the hands of local people. These setbacks have led to the foreign terrorists putting pressure on Al-Shabaab’s divided leadership. Muktar Robow Abu Mansoor and Abdi Godane Abu Zubeyer have been told to sort out their differences or be fired. Progress on the military front is no substitute for what the TFG should be doing politically. Time and again, when there is progress on the ground in Somalia, the leadership falters and fails to take the opportunity to make real progress in building institutions of governance and to consolidate peace. Now is the time for the TFG to put its house in order, to concentrate on priority activities to create a suitable situation for implementing the remaining transitional tasks. Dissension within the TFIs must stop. The TFG now has the chance to show leadership in moving the peace process forward and consolidating its gains. As the IGAD Council and the AU Summit have reiterated, the Djibouti Peace Process remains the sole basis for achieving peace and reconciliation for Somalia. The IGAD Council called on the TFG to redouble its efforts to bring on board all those forces that reject violence. It also called on the leadership of Somalia to demonstrate its commitment to the people of Somalia in a concrete way. These points were emphasized by the AU’s Commissioner for Peace and Security, Ramtane Lamamra, when he addressed the Peace and Security Council’s 245th meeting on Friday last week, delivering a report on developments in Somalia over the last months. Commissioner Lamamra itemized a number of positive political developments including the budget prepared by the TFG, the collection of revenues from the port and airport and the reopening of Radio Mogadishu. But he also noted that the political process had been challenged by recurrent wrangling in the TFIs, and the disagreements between the President and the Prime Minister who had resigned on 21st September. He mentioned the “disturbing development” of the withdrawal of Ahlu Sunna Wal Jama’a from its partnership with the TFG. He emphasized these problems were of particular concern since the transition period was due to end on 20th August next year. The Commissioner noted the results of the Mini-Summit on Somalia in New York (September 23rd), and of the International Contact Group’s meeting in Madrid (September 28th), and stressed that the gains in the political and security areas could only be sustained if they were supported by the necessary reconstruction efforts to ensure long-term stability. At the request of the AU Summit in Kampala the Commissioner had appointed Jerry Rawlings, former President of Ghana, as the AU High Representative for Somalia, to mobilize increased support for efforts to promote peace and reconciliation in Somalia and generate greater attention from the international community. Following the decision of the IGAD Chiefs of Defense Staffs in July to adopt an action plan for increased troops, the AU Kampala Summit called for AMISOM’s strength to be lifted to 20,000 troops. The Commission had initiated broad-based consultations to develop a revised Concept of Operations for AMISOM, allowing for an additional 12,000 troops with the requisite air and maritime capabilities. Initially, the objective would be to insert 4,000 additional troops in Mogadishu to consolidate the TFG’s authority there. In the second phase, steps would be taken to expand gradually into other areas of central and south Somalia. The Commissioner stressed the need for other Member States assist and not leave everything to Uganda and Burundi. He also noted that it was imperative for the Security Council to broaden the scope of the UN support package to AMISOM. He believed there should be real operational cooperation between AMISOM and other groups-the resources mobilized to combat piracy should be used to support AMISOM operations, with the imposition of a no-fly zone and a blockade of sea ports, to prevent the entry of foreign elements into Somalia, as well as flights and shipments carrying weapons and ammunitions to the armed opposition. The Commissioner said he looked forward to meeting the UN Secretary-General’s Special Advisor on Legal Issues related to Piracy off the coast of Somalia, M. Jack Lang, to discuss how best the Commission could support his efforts. The Commission continued to emphasize that piracy is a symptom of the broader challenges to peace and security in Somalia. The Commissioner noted that IGAD, the AU, the UN and other partners have made it clear that the Djibouti peace process remains the only acceptable roadmap for the restoration of peace and stability in Somalia, but he also added that Somalis, and their leaders, have the primary responsibility for the restoration of peace, security and stability in their country. They need to demonstrate leadership, resolve and unity of purpose. It is critical that the TFIs quickly develop a roadmap regarding the management of the remaining transition period, with clear political, security and reconstruction priorities, expeditiously complete the outstanding transitional tasks; continue to reach out to all peace-embracing Somalis; and urgently endorse the draft National Security and Stabilization Plan and the Security Sector Assessment report. It was also imperative that other Member States step in and share the burden of Africa’s collective responsibility in Somalia in addition to Uganda and Burundi, in order to send an unmistakable message of unity and strength to all those who, within and outside Somalia, have set for themselves the goal of undermining the quest for peace, while conveying solidarity to the people of Somalia in bringing to an end their suffering and plight. The Commissioner said the UN Security Council should now take the decisions required in line with its primary responsibility for the maintenance of international peace and security These included authorization of an enhanced support package for AMISOM, and for action in response to the calls for a naval blockade and a no-fly zone, as well as effective implementation of sanctions against all those impeding the peace and reconciliation process in Somalia; approaching the issue of piracy in a holistic manner; the reaffirmation of its commitment to deploy a UN peacekeeping operation in Somalia through the re-hating of AMISOM and the establishment of a time frame for this. The larger international community and other AU partners had a key role to play. It was critical that they provide adequate and coordinated support for the effective reestablishment of the Somali institutions and the long-term reconstruction of the country. In its final communiqué, the Peace and Security Council endorsed the Commissioner’s remarks and called on the UN Security Council to take these decisions, necessary for the maintenance of international peace and security. Commissioner Lamamra repeated these points again when addressing the Security Council on Thursday this week. The Council meeting was also briefed by Secretary- General Ban ki-Moon and by Yusuf Hassan Ibrahim, the Minister for Foreign Affairs of the TFG. The session was a follow-up to the Mini-Summit on Somalia held in New York last month. Commissioner Lamamra said more efforts were required from the international community to rise to the challenge posed by the current situation. The African Union Peace and Security Council had urged the United Nations Security Council to endorse the newly authorized strength of AMISOM and to authorize an enhanced support package for AMISOM. The Security Council, Mr. Lamamra said, should now act to impose a naval blockade and no-fly zone over Somalia to prevent the entry of foreign fighters and flights carrying weapons and ammunition to armed groups. The Council could also request the Governments and organizations involved in naval operations off the coast to provide a more direct, tangible and operational support to AMISOM. There should be effective implementation of sanctions against those impeding the peace and reconciliation process. The Council should reaffirm the commitment to deploy, in due course, a United Nations peacekeeping operation through the “re-hating” of AMISOM, with an established timeline. Despite the challenges, opportunities existed to “make peace happen in Somalia”, Commissioner Lamamra said. The international community could decide to pursue its current policy of limited engagement in the false hope that the situation could be contained, and continue to make the existence of peace a precondition for the deployment of a United Nations operation, or stakeholders could decide to step up their efforts to give real meaning to the “much heralded notion of the responsibility to protect” and confront the threat which the prevailing situation posed to international peace and security. Commissioner Lamamra said the African Union was convinced that the latter was the right course of action. “We, therefore, call on the Council to stand along with the African Union in rising to the challenge, and responding decisively to the desperate call for assistance from the Somali people.” Secretary-General Bank ki-Moon commended the African Union and AMISOM for their efforts in assisting the TFG and noted recent successes against the insurgents. The UN, he said, would continue to work towards achieving the political objectives of the Djibouti Peace Process by supporting the Transitional Federal Government in outreach and reconciliation efforts and other priority tasks, the implementation of agreements between the Government and regional authorities, and the development of functioning State institutions, through its “light footprint”. More international help, however, was needed. The Council, he suggested, might wish to consider phasing the additional support in line with the recommendations outlined in Commissioner Lamamra’s report. He urged the Somalia authorities, in turn, to consolidate their efforts and unite against the threat of extremism, saying that the Transitional Federal Government must start delivering improved services to the Somali people, paying salaries to its security forces and building up its security sector institutions. The support of the international community, he stressed, was critical in that regard. Despite the detailed report of Commissioner Lamamra, and its endorsement by the TFG’s Foreign Minister Yusuf, and Secretary-General Ban ki-Moon, the subsequent Presidential Statement, issued by Security Council President Ruhakana Rugunda of Uganda, was deeply disappointing, essentially confining itself to verbal support for the TFG and AMISOM. The Council expressed its concern at the continued instability in Somalia and the deteriorating humanitarian situation. It reaffirmed its support for the Djibouti Agreement and peace process as the basis for the resolution of the conflict in Somalia, and reiterated its full support to the TFG in its efforts to achieve peace, calling on the TFG to remain united, redouble its efforts at reconciliation and work for the completion of the transitional tasks, in particular the constitution-making process. The Council welcomed the appointment of Jerry Rawlings as the new African Union High Representative for Somalia and noted the decisions adopted by the African Union Summit held in Kampala on July 10th, and the recommendations of the Ministerial Meeting of the African Union Peace and Security Council held in Addis Ababa, on October 15th.. The Council reiterated its full support for AMISOM and called on the international community to provide additional resources for it to better fulfill its mandate. It also stressed the importance of international assistance to train, equip and build the capacity of the Somali National Security Forces, as well as support in other sectors and State institutions. The Council condemned any attacks on the Transitional Federal Government, AMISOM and civilian population by armed groups, foreign fighters and their supporters, and called on all parties, especially the armed opposition groups, to abide by their obligations under international humanitarian law.
Somaliland’s Foreign Minister visits Addis Ababa
Here in Addis Ababa, yesterday, Deputy Prime Minister and Foreign Minister Hailemariam Desalegn held talks with Somaliland Foreign Minister Dr. Abdullahi Omar. Dr. Omar briefed Minister Hailemariam on the current developments in Somaliland in terms of consolidating peace and stability. He mentioned last week’s donors’ meeting in Hargeisa, the first such meeting for nineteen years. Donors have now pledged to provide direct budgetary support. All previous assistance had been confined to humanitarian aid. Minister Hailemariam congratulated the administration in creating a working relationship and collaboration with the Puntland administration. He also thanked the Somaliland administration for its prompt action, in collaboration with Ethiopian security forces, against the ONLF terrorists, trained and armed in Eritrea, who recently tried to smuggle themselves into Ethiopia through Somaliland. In discussion of developments in south Somalia, the two ministers agreed there was no option than continuing to support the TFG even though its leadership had yet to deliver concrete results for the transition. They also agreed that collaboration in peace and security should be further strengthened as well as in economic areas, linking the movement of goods and services in accordance with the customs transit agreement signed in May 2005 covering all issues relating to the Berbera corridor, including tariffs and vehicle movements comprehensively.
HRW’s continued vendetta against the people of Ethiopia
Human Rights Watch has been involved in a vitriolic campaign to tarnish Ethiopia’s image for a long time now, concentrating on the electoral process, churning out report after report with a view to influencing the conduct and outcome of the voting. Several times, it published highly critical reports only a few days ahead of elections, claiming that there was no possibility of their peaceful and democratic conduct, heaping scorn on the government’s democratic credentials. HRW’s focus was one of trying to de-legitimize the political process in Ethiopia through a barrage of allegations attacking the fledgling democratic institutions in the country. Obviously, the campaign, centering on allegations of undemocratic behavior and suppression of dissent, failed to bring about the response HRW wanted. Now it has come up with another tactic involving even more outrageous allegations, and taking “advocacy” to a whole new level. This time, HRW is targeting what it believes must be the major obstacle standing in the way of its efforts to unseat this government, that is the rapid economic progress the country has been making. Its previous efforts largely failed because its allegations simply ignored the reality on the ground, gaining few converts except among the Ethiopian opposition, though it certainly affected the country’s image. This latest report has changed targets, and demonstrates the new levels to which HRW is apparently prepared to go to try to inflict damage, making an unabashed attempt to try to literally derail Ethiopia’s development progress. Not even bothering to make any attempt to disguise its motives with humanitarian language, HRW’s latest report is an open call to try and halt economic development without even attempting to show how this might contribute in any way to addressing the activities it attributes to the government. It alleges the government of Ethiopia is using development aid as a means of suppressing dissent and calls on donors to either stop their aid or prevent the government maintaining ownership of the policies that have been responsible for the present levels of economic growth. The report targets a number of successful programs currently being carried out in partnership with donors, claiming these have been used by the government to attack the opposition and to forcibly recruit members for the EPRDF. Among these are the Protection of Basic Services (PBS), aimed at delivery of social services including health, education, agricultural extension and road construction, and which have benefited literally tens of millions of people; the Productive Safety Net Program aimed at providing food aid or cash in return for the participation of individuals in public works, a program that has more than eight million beneficiaries; the Public Sector Capacity Building Program aimed at increasing the capacity of the civil service throughout the country; the General Education Quality Improvement Project aimed at improving the quality of education that is being delivered to millions of pupils throughout the country from primary to tertiary education; and the Domestic Institutions Program aimed at growing domestic accountability through building up the capacity and service delivery of democratic institutions including Parliament, the Human Rights Commission, the Ombudsman and the regional legislatures. These programs have, over the years, benefited literally millions of people and contributed significantly to the impressive economic gains Ethiopia has achieved in the last few years. These programs have proved successful not only because the government of Ethiopia exercises a measure of ownership of its policies but also because they are formulated and implemented with the full participation of the beneficiaries. Equally, donors are, of course, involved throughout the process. The projects are continuously monitored. The result is that they have been instrumental in ensuring a better livelihood for tens of millions of people, and the number of people needing food aid in the country has been progressively declining. The government is confident the country will achieve food security by the end of the just launched five year Growth and Transformation Plan. This might be bad news for those who want to use food aid as leverage for political purposes, but for no one else. HRW states that increased financing, together with the Ethiopian government’s commitment to growth and tackling poverty, has led to genuine, though it also adds, “exaggerated progress” in meeting the UN Millennium Development Goals. In fact, Ethiopia, along with Tunisia and Libya, is one of the three countries in Africa which have either achieved or is on target for achieving six of the MDGs. It has reached the MDGs in major advances in the eradication of extreme poverty and hunger (MDG 1); achieving universal primary education (MDG 2); improving maternal mortality (MDG 5); and combating disease (MDG 6); and is on track in promoting gender equality (MDG 3) and reducing child mortality (MDG 4). It has yet to make sufficient progress for MDG 7, ensuring environmental sustainability; and the eighth MDG, developing a global partnership for development, is not, of course, country specific. Despite HRW’s immediate effort to discredit this by suggesting that government figures cannot be trusted, these details come from the recently published African Economic Outlook for 2010, produced by the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development, the African Development Bank and the Economic Commission for Africa. HRW, however, discounts this progress because there are some allegations that these programs are being used by the government as tools to repress opposition and reward its own supporters. The report claims: “local authorities tell opposition members to renounce party membership and become EPRDF members if they wanted to access subsidized seeds and fertilizer, food relief, civil service jobs, promotion, retention, student university assignment, post-graduate employment and other government- controlled benefits.” The way the report reads one is expected to conclude that everything in Ethiopia is controlled by the party and nothing can be accessed without being a member of the ruling party. To try to take issue with every specific allegation would be an exercise in futility, but it might be worth mentioning that the beneficiaries of these programs are at least twenty times greater than the number of EPRDF members. For HRW even civic education in schools is indoctrination by the ruling party, and it appears to want an end to the Education Quality programs. Because a few opposition members claim they have suffered from discrimination in the PBS or Productive Safety Net programs, HRW wants to see the government denied of ownership of its policies. It also recommends the repeal of the Charities and Societies Law and the Anti-Terrorism Proclamation. For HRW to suggest that every one of the hundreds of thousands of students matriculating every year have joined the EPRDF in order to enroll in the university is laughable. Equally, this allegation is no laughing matter because effectively what HRW is calling for is for donors to cancel these programs simply because HRW has the idea that a few people somewhere in the country may feel uneasy about some aspects. It proudly claims it is basing this on no more than a couple of hundred interviews. We have shown time and time again in commenting on HRW’s previous reports that truth is never HRW’s forte. It usually operates in an evidence-free zone. In what can only be considered a mockery of research methodology, HRW is prepared to recommend stopping development aid that has contributed to improving the lives of tens of millions of people on the basis of phone interviews with a few dozen individuals whose background and interests it is not prepared to identify. The use of anecdotal evidence of this kind in this way can only be seen as the height of irresponsibility. It might also be noted that the very donors whom HRW is attempting to bully into cutting aid, and end these programs, do not actually agree with Human Right Watch’s assessments from New York. The representatives of 26 donors working in partnership with the government on these programs carried out an investigation into earlier allegations. The Development Assistance Group, (DAG), concluded that “there are clear safeguards in place to ensure that aid resources are used properly to achieve intended results” and that there is no reason to believe that there indeed was any systematic impropriety on the part of the government. Typically, HRW’s response to this was to dismiss it. HRW claims the DAG report cannot be taken at face value because “some individuals” have told HRW researchers “in private” that they know the government does the things the HRW says it does. The DAG report fails to portray the true findings of its authors, or alternatively the donors are cowed by the Government’s tough reaction if they publish critical reports. It is always HRW which has a monopoly over truth, honesty and courage. Even if the donors insist everything is going well, HRW knows better, and the donors must be forced into accepting HRW’s version of reality as seen from HRW’s glossy New York headquarters with the help of phantom researchers. It seems very apparent that HRW’s motives are political. They certainly have nothing to do with the kind of lofty rhetoric HRW propounds about Human Rights. It is rather about trying to arm-twist a government into submission. It tried to do this through campaigns aimed at influencing elections. Since those failed, it is now trying another technique. There is no reason to doubt the resolve of the donors, or of the Government, to resist these efforts. Today, the Development Assistance Group (DAG) issued a statement making it clear that the group did not agree with HRW’s report. It pointed out that it took any allegations of misuse of development aid very seriously, and that was why it had commissioned its own report, a report which “did not generate any evidence of systematic or widespread distortion.” The DAG statement said categorically “we do not concur with the conclusions of the recent HRW report regarding widespread, systematic abuse of development aid in Ethiopia.” While it is regrettable that HRW’s allegations may dent Ethiopia’s image unnecessarily, HRW’s efforts to try to bring a halt to aid programs that are successfully assisting millions of people must surely be seen as a despicable and unwarranted attack on Africa.
Ethiopia’s new Foreign Minister meets the Diplomatic community
On Wednesday this week, Ato Hailemariam Desalegn, Ethiopia’s new Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs, met with representatives of the diplomatic corps and of the international community, including the Chairperson of the African Union Commission and other international organizations. He said it was a collective occasion which provided him with an opportunity for individual and bilateral encounters and the chance to initiate contacts. It was not, however, intended to be a substitute for the more formal and extended discussions he intended to have with everyone later. He told the diplomatic corps that he had no greater priority as foreign minister of Ethiopia than ensuring Ethiopia’s relations with the countries and the bodies represented in Addis Ababa should be based on true partnership and friendship rooted in mutual trust and mutual consideration. He said that while he might disagree with his listeners and even make them unhappy, he would not mislead them. One thing, he said, that he cherished in relations between nations was consistency and predictability, based on principles. Minister Hailemariam did not go into detail on substantive issues but he did refer to the fact that the months ahead would be critical to the region and to Africa: What happens in Sudan would by no means be limited to the people of the Sudan; Somalia was not yet out of the woods. The challenges remained daunting. In all this, he said, “we need your support and understanding; we can not compartmentalize our problems in regional terms”. He also assured his listeners that in other critical matters such as climate change and environmental issues, Ethiopia’s proactive involvement would be greater not less. On regional issues, Ato Hailemariam said he was confident that everyone would work to strengthen IGAD’s regional peace and integration initiatives. Underlining Ethiopia’s Chairmanship of IGAD, he said he would spare no effort to work with everybody to promote peace and stability in our sub-region. Minister Hailemariam referred briefly to the new Growth and Transformation Plan describing its implementation as a Herculean task. He said Ethiopia was however determined to achieve the targets set out. The government had assumed the primary responsibility for implementing the Plan, but he added “we will also count on your assistance to successfully realize our objectives”. He emphasized that the presence of the African Union in Addis Ababa provided a great opportunity for Ethiopians. It was a gift from Africa for which the Ethiopian people would always be grateful. Ato Hailemariam said he would “like to urge all to support the African Union’s continental endeavors to promote development, peace and security and good governance.” “To lift Africa from the quagmire of underdevelopment and set it on the path of prosperity, we, together with our brothers and sisters from Africa, would like to encourage our partners to serve as a bridge between our continent and their respective countries and the organizations they represent”.
The Ministry of Foreign Affairs says farewell to Ato Seyoum
Meanwhile, earlier in the week, members of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs took leave of former Foreign Minister Seyoum Mesfin, Africa’s longest serving Foreign Minister. He had held the post since the present government was established in 1991, and before that had been responsible for the foreign affairs of the TPLF and then the EPRDF during the long struggle against the military dictatorship between 1975 and 1991. Speaking at the event on Monday, Ato Seyoum expressed his belief that his successor and the staff of the Ministry would further enhance the diplomatic relations built up over the previous decades. He said he had no doubt that the people-to-people relations, and the political and economic links created during his time in office would be strengthened in the future. He said he was most grateful for the support he had received from the staff of the Ministry, and for the professional commitment they had displayed. Similarly, he expressed his appreciation for the contribution of the party. Together they had been able to overcome the inevitable problems and shortages that had affected the Ministry at times. The Ministry had been responsible for successfully implementing the policy of the party. It was a collective effort and he was very grateful for the experience. He added that Ato Hailemariam Desalegn was exactly the right person to take up the reins of foreign policy and work for the success of the new five year Growth and Transformation Plan. Thanking all his colleagues and members of the ministry, he stressed that he would continue to devote his efforts to Ethiopia. One phase, he said, had finally come to an end, but he remained sure that he still had something to offer. In giving an appreciation of Ato Seyoum, his long time colleague, Dr. Tekeda Alemu, who is also leaving his position as Minister of State, noted that he had worked with Ato Seyoum since 1991. It had been an enlightening and inspiring experience. He described Ato Seyoum as sincere and honest, transparent and thoughtful, a man of integrity who did not pretend or dissimulate. He was a civilized and even gentle person who was cautious and thoughtful, who did not rush to judgment, but could always be relied upon to come to the right and proper conclusions. He always took the trouble to listen to others but made it very clear that in the last resort he was the one in charge. Competent and efficient, he provided a remarkably sound basis for an effective and successful foreign policy, laying out the main parameters of policy, clearly, consistently and logically. Dr. Tekeda emphasized just how much effort Ato Seyoum had put into enhancing the diplomatic relations of Ethiopia, and how successful he had been in establishing Ethiopia’s foreign relations on the basis of mutual benefit, mutual respect, mutual understanding and joint responsibility. Both Dr. Tekeda and Ato Seyoum also paid tribute to the role played by Prime Minister Meles in the formulation of the concepts underlying Ethiopia’s foreign policy.
Core principles of Ethiopia’s Foreign Policy: Ethiopia-Russia relations
Ethiopia and Russia have longstanding historical relations going back to the period of the Russian Czar Machilovich, the father of Peter the Great, in the 17th century. It is also recorded that Alexander Pushkin, a renowned Russian writer, was a grandson of Abraham Hannibal, an Ethiopian who lived in Russia. Other early contacts between Russia and Ethiopia include the visit of an Ethiopian delegation sent by the Emperor Menilek II to Russia, and visits of several Russians to Ethiopia during Menilek’s reign, at least one of whom was given the title of Dejazmatch for his travels on behalf of the Emperor along Ethiopia’s southern boundaries. These contacts laid the foundation for the close relations of the two countries, based on mutual respect and friendship between the two peoples. And it is notable that regardless of the differing political systems that existed at various times, relations between them have continued close and friendly. One demonstration of that friendship has been that Russia has always, and without fail, stood with Ethiopia whenever the sovereignty of Ethiopia was threatened. Russian solidarity with Ethiopia was first illustrated when the Russian Red Cross Society came to Ethiopia in 1896, at the time of the Battle of Adwa when Italy attempted to attack the country. It made an outstanding contribution in provision of medical supplies and care to the Ethiopian patriots on the battlefield and subsequently. Again, during the fascist invasion of Ethiopia in 1936, Russia was one of those countries which stood in solidarity with Ethiopia. It has done so on every occasion throughout the 20th century whenever Ethiopia faced challenges to its sovereignty and its core national security interests. In short, the bonds that exist between Ethiopia and Russia have stood the test of time and proven their strength time and again. The most important historical landmarks of Ethio-Russia historical relations visible in Addis Ababa are the large plot of land granted for the construction of a Russian mission after the Battle of Adwa, where the Russian Embassy is still located, and the establishment of the Russian Hospital, now the Balcha Memorial Hospital. Diplomatic relations between Ethiopia and Russia were upgraded to Embassy level when both countries opened their respective embassies in Addis Ababa and Moscow in 1956. While relations between Ethiopia and Russia continued throughout the Imperial era, they were much closer during the Marxist, military regime of the Derg when both counties belonged to same ideological camp. With the change of government in Ethiopia and the collapse of the Soviet Union, relations were placed on a different footing, but they remained warm and friendly. In recent years, there have been increased exchanges of visits of high level officials between the two countries. Major visits have included Prime Minister Meles’s trip to Moscow in December 2001 and Foreign Minister Seyoum in November 2007; former Russian Prime Minister, Mikhail Kasyanov came to Ethiopia in September 2002; and Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov came here in September 2006. In order to strengthen their economic ties further, the two countries established a Joint Commission on Economic, Scientific, Trade and Technical Cooperation in 1999. The Commission held its first meeting in Moscow; and the second in 2002 in Addis Ababa. The third, in February 2008, was in Moscow and the fourth will take place in Addis Ababa at the end of this year. The main areas of cooperation covered under the Joint Commission include energy, mining, transport, agriculture, education, health, tourism and telecommunications. Although these meetings have taken place at both expert and ministerial levels, the results have not been as extensive as hoped. There is also considerable potential for enhanced trade and investment. Three major agreements, on Economic, Scientific and Technical Cooperation, Avoidance of Double Taxation, and Promotion and Reciprocal Protection of Investment have been signed. The major commodities Ethiopia exports to Russia include coffee, leather and leather products, and flowers. It imports industrial products, machinery, chemicals, and other capital goods from Russia. The trade balance favors Russia and the total trade volume of the two countries was nearly 2 billion birr in 2009. Currently, there are 23 investment projects registered in Ethiopia by Russian investors; 21 are in the pre-implementation stage, while two are under implementation. Total Russian investment in Ethiopia amounts to just over a billion birr as of August last year. Measures to expedite Russia’s ratification of the agreements on Avoidance of Double Taxation and Promotion and Reciprocal Protection of Investment would help to further improve trade and investment relations. The priority areas of interest for Russian companies in Ethiopia include mining and mineral resources, oil and gas, gold, tantalum, heavy metals and platinum exploration as well as hydro and geothermal power generation. Russian companies have preferred to acquire mineral concessions rather than participating in international tenders. Given the long-standing relationship, and the priority that the RUS-AID program gives to exsocialist countries, it is expected Ethiopia will be one of the priority countries for Russian development cooperation. The fight against terrorism is another area where the two countries do cooperate, and in this connection, Ethiopia is very appreciative of the highly effective cooperation in security areas which exists between the two countries. Equally, with the centuries of relationship, there is a lot more that can be done to further enhance our ties while fraternal relations between our two peoples continue to be anchored on a firm basis. In the light of Russia’s historic interests in Africa, and its position in the UN Security Council, Ethiopia expects Russia to play an active role in issues relating to Africa in general and the Horn of Africa in particular. Indeed, Russian support for the Security Council sanctions imposed on Eritrea last December was decisive. It is in fact appropriate to express appreciation for Russia’s interest in the Horn of Africa. The appointment of a Special Envoy to Sudan also demonstrates the level of attention Russia has given to the sub-region, and there is no doubt that Russia could play a significant role in providing peace and stability in Somalia as well as Sudan.
Federal Democratic Republic of Ethiopia
Ministry of Foreign Affairs