Ethiopia, Sudan officials met to discuss border dispute

A delegation led by Deputy Prime Minister and Foreign Affairs Minister Demeke Mekonnen, has visited Sudan this week to peacefully discuss border related disputes between the two countries.

“The principle of solidarity and fraternity has been one of the defining characteristics of our Ethiopia and Sudan bilateral relations. The strong and longstanding ties between our two countries are intertwined and whatever happens in Ethiopia will certainly have spillover effect in the Sudan and vice versa,” said Demeke Mekonnen at Ethiopia-Sudan High Level Political Committee Meeting kicked off today (December 22). “However, what has happened in our common boarder recently did not commensurate from this longstanding principle of solidarity and fraternity….I am very hopeful and confident that we will have a very fruitful and productive discussion that will further enhance our fraternal relations.”

Recent reports show that the security forces of the two neighbors are engaged in conflict around the border. The Spokesperson of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Ethiopia, Ambassador Dina Mufti on Tuesday stated that the two countries have agreed to postpone border related talks between the two countries. The leadership of Sudan has been positive about the relations with Ethiopia but there are forces who are working to create war and conflict between the two countries, according to Ambassador Dina. “Creating conflict /war between Ethiopia and Sudan is alike a jackpot for those who are working to create instability in the region,” he said.

In his presentation, the Ambassador also focused on Tuesday’s event where the President of Ethiopia, Sahle-Work Zewde has received the credentials of newly appointed ambassadors of seven countries. He also updated the media about the Inter-Governmental Authority for Development IGAD’s 38th Extraordinary Summit. He also reflected on the Ministry’s efforts to curb misinformation and disinformation on social media platforms as well as economic and citizen centered diplomatic activities of the Ministry within the past two weeks.

Below is summary of the biweekly press briefing by Ambassador Dina:

I. New Ambassadors
President Sahle-Work Zewde, received today (December 22) the credentials of the newly appointed ambassadors of #China, #Japan, #SouthKorea, #India, #Pakistan, #Tunisia and #Zimbabwe to Ethiopia. At the occasion the President briefed the ambassadors on the recently completed law enforcement operation in Tigray. President Sahle-Work’s briefing included the humanitarian assistance and rehabilitation works in the region as well as restoration of infrastructure and services that the government is undertaking.

Recalling that Ethiopia has cemented its relationship with some of these countries with a strategic partnership level, she underlined that Ethiopia is keen to scale up its relationship with the other countries too. The ambassadors commended the government of Ethiopia for successfully completing the law enforcement operation in Tigray and vowed to give new impetus to the already outstanding relationships that exist between Ethiopia and their respective countries.

II. IGAD Summit
Prime Minister H.E. Dr. Abiy Ahmed Ali and his delegation comprising H.E. Demeke Mekonnen, Deputy Prime Minister and Foreign Minister of Ethiopia have participated in the 38th Extraordinary summit of the Assembly of the Intergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD) Heads of State and Government that was recently held in Djibouti.

1. Activities of Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed:
• He presented a briefing on the operation in the Tigray region
• He thanked IGAD leaders for understanding and acknowledging Ethiopia’s law enforcement measures as legal and legitimate, as well as for expressing commitment to supporting Ethiopia
• He has held a number of discussions on the margins of the summit
– He met with the Prime Minister of Sudan, H.E. Abdalla Hamdok to discuss bilateral issues as a follow up to their last meeting in Addis Abeba.
– He met the President of the Federal Republic of Somalia H.E Mohamed Abdullahi Mohamed Farmaajo and talked about recent regional developments and on how to strengthen cooperation among IGAD countries.
– He met with H.E. Rebecca Nyandeng De Mabior, Vice President of South Sudan, and discussed bilateral issues and the continued efforts for peace underway in South Sudan.
– He also met President Uhuru Kenyatta and conferred on regional and bilateral issues

2. Benefits of the Summit to Ethiopia
• The Assembly issued a communiqué on Monday (December 21, 2020) and it reaffirmed the primacy of constitutional order, stability and unity of the Federal Democratic Republic of Ethiopia.
• The Chairperson of the African Union Commission also commended Ethiopian government bold steps to preserve country’s integrity
• Despite having its own issues, Ethiopia has also shown its deep commitment to let peace reign in the region as it was manifested through the various sideline meetings of the Prime Minister with other leaders of the region

– III. Diplomatic activities of DPM and FM Demeke Mekonnen
1) Demeke Mekonnen, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs of Ethiopia briefed four UN senior officials about latest developments in Tigray on Tuesday (December 15).
• He appreciated Secretary-General António Guterres for taking a principled stand on the situation in the Tigray region.
• The briefing also focused on the rehabilitation and restoration works following the completion of the operation, the search for the criminals, activities of the interim government, humanitarian assistance to those in need and repatriation and screening of displaced people
• Executive Secretary of the ECA, UN Resident and Humanitarian Coordinator in Ethiopia, Special Representative of the Secretary-General to the AU, and Special Envoy of the UN Secretary-General for the Horn of Africa said the Secretary-General believes that Ethiopia is an anchor of peace in the region and stability in Ethiopia means stability for the Horn of Africa.

2) Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of the Foreign Affairs of Ethiopia, Demeke Mekonnen met on Thursday (December 17) the new UNFPA (the United Nations Population Fund) representative to Ethiopia, Ms. Dennia Gayle.
• He has briefed her on issues related to the humanitarian assistance and rehabilitation works in Tigray.
• He appreciated the UNFPA for providing support to female Ethiopian refugees in Sudan.
• Ms. Dennia Gayle said the UNFPA is planning to extend support to women and children in the Tigray region.
3) Demeke Mekonnnen, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Foreign Affairs of Ethiopia held a phone discussion on Thursday (December 17) with Pekka Haavisto, the Minister for Foreign Affairs of Finland.
• Their discussion focused on the recently completed law enforcement operation in Tigray, the latest developments in the region, and humanitarian assistance to those in need.
• Although the criminal clique looted Eritrean refugee centers in Tigray, Mr.Demeke said, the refugees are now in safe hands with support from the Ethiopian government.
• Ethiopia is ready to repatriate citizens from Sudan, he said adding that the government will screen out some refugees who have participated in the Maikadra massacre.
• He also expressed hope that the European Union would understand the reality on the ground in Tigray. The Union’s stand to put the federal government of Ethiopia on equal footing with the TPLF criminal clique is regrettable, he added.
• The discussion between the two ministers also included the current status of the AU-led Great Ethiopian Renaissance Dam (GERD) negotiation which is on the right track, plans on the post-COVID period, and distribution of vaccination to the virus.

IV. Combating Social Media Misinformation and Disinformation
State Minister and State of Emergency Spokesperson, Ambassador Redwan Hussein and Spokesperson of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Ethiopia, Ambassador Dina Mufti led a discussion on Saturday (December 19) with Ethiopian Social media activists on the importance of setting agendas that matter to the public at large. The discussion covered pivotal national issues, including the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam, the law enforcement operation in Tigray, the fruits and challenges of the reform process as well as regional and international interests the country aspires to protect.

V. Economic and Citizen-centered Diplomacy
• Ethiopian Embassy in Uganda has held a virtual business forum to promote Ethiopia’s leather and leather products to the East African market. Ugandan, Burundian, and Congolese (DRC) diplomats along with business associations, investors, and media outlets took part in the business forum held under the theme, ‘Ethiopia: Africa’s Global Force in Leather Production. State Minister, Tsion Teklu made opening remarks at the occasion highlighting the opportunities opned to investors due to Ethiopian government incentives to the sector and the new Continental Free Trade Area.
• Ethio-Egypt business council has held an online meeting aiming at strengthening economic ties between the two countries
• Last week, 327 Ethiopian were repatriated from Saudi Arabia