to Swim Together
week, the Ethiopian PM Hailemariam Desalegn was in Djibouti on a three-day
official visit. His visit to Djibouti has brought to light the strong interest
the two countries have in further consolidating their relation to the level
that some groups or individuals may find as something unexpected. Hailemariam and
his counterpart the Djiboutian president are much optimistic about the
integration of two sisterly countries. Ethiopian PM has even declared, “Political
integration is not that difficult” and asked members of the Federal House of
Representatives to support his government in realizing this goal.
has markedly opened a new chapter, which would infinitely deepen the multifaceted,
social, economic, historical and cordial relationship of the two countries.
Thus, it had received special attention and spurred diverse interpretations
form various corners.
to Hailemariam countries in the Horn cannot have surefooted development without
establishing economic integration among themselves. He also underscored that Ethiopia’s
development is inextricably knotted with the peace and security the of region;
thus he expressed the readiness and unwavering commitment of his government in
strengthening the existing ties of the two sisterly countries.
he said, “Any foreign aggression or assault aimed at undermining the basic
national interest of Djibouti and its people would simply get on the nerves of
Ethiopia.” In this regard, he chose to be unusually explicit, for he has unequivocally
declared the importance Ethiopia has attached to its overall relationship with
the PM visit to Djibouti was meant to highlight the ever-deepening bond of the
two countries, in social, economic, political spheres and their interest in further
expanding cooperation in the military sector.
emphasized the fast growing infrastructural development being undertaken by
Ethiopia is meant to facilitate the economic integration between Djibouti and
Ethiopia pointing that the two countries have pioneered the move to economic integration
by establishing the energy alliance in the Horn.
related news, AU commissioner for the infrastructure sector was last week on record
lauding Ethiopia’s effort in taping its renewable energy resources and
commended its endeavor in developing its national road and railway network that
would also ensure solid economic integration among in the Horn of Africa and
current trends are obviously indicating, we will in the near future witness the
death of a national economy per se. The chance is as P.M Meles had once said,
we are bound “to swim or sink together.” We cannot see a developed and
prosperous Ethiopia, Djibouti, Sudan, Somaliland or Eretria etc without having
regional economic integration.
As we all
know, poverty, marginalization, and hopelessness are key triggering factors for
a protracted conflict in this region. These were factors favorable for the
insurgent groups that until recently were proliferating in the Horn.
the existing sporadic conflicts witnessed in the pastoralist communities living
in the peripheries of various countries in the Horn will gradually dry out with
the ongoing socio-political and economic transformation happening in these
communities. Djibouti can be cited as a good example to the transformation pastoralist
societies in the region.
years ago, Djibouti was just a camp of pastoralist traders. The great
grandfather of the current Djiboutian generation had been pastoralist. When
that pastoralist mode of life has changed and the people began to have a
settled life, the current conflict situation will give way to lasting peaceful
instance, the abundant natural sources -fertile land and water- have so far
remained untapped in the Somali region of Ethiopia. Nevertheless, following the
relative peace witnessed in the past few years, the Somali region is
experiencing very impressive progress in all sectors of developments that would
ultimately contribute to create enduring peace and security in the Horn.
other hand, we know that after the discovery of oil in Sudan, i.e. Northern
Sudan Republic, has become giant economy in the Horn. It was enjoying the
luxury of being oil producer with a potential of emerging as a giant economy in
the Horn. Later, with the emergence of the southern Sudan as a new independent
state this situation has swiftly changed. With the new dramatic turn of events or
the separation of the Southern Sudan that elusive luxury has suddenly gone. Abandoning
all other sectors of the economy, including farming, Northern Sudan has begun
to rely on oil and found herself in difficult situation confronting with new
is things are pushing in the direction of integration. The oil rich land locked
southern Sudan now contemplating to use the port of Djibouti. And this would
only be possible if only it has a land link with Djibouti that of necessity
must go across Ethiopia. This in turn will help Ethiopia to integrate with its
neighbor and continue to engage in the regional developmental efforts, which is
supported by the current favorable regional and global conditions.
geopolitical importance that the Horn had been enjoining during the cold war
period is now fading away, the giant global economies of China and India are energizing
the developing economies of Africa They are aggressively penetrating into the huge
market of the sub-region. With the emergence of the Asian big economies-china
and India- the Indian Ocean has increased its strategic importance. Thus, the
Horn (Africa in general) is getting more attentions of the big economies.
Impressive economic growth in Africa is attracting various investors from all
over the world. Regional stability is imperative for this robust economic trend
power interconnection with Djibouti could clearly indicate not only the
potential of Ethiopia to emerge as a huge powerhouse in the region, where many
of its neighbors badly need the cheaper electric power Ethiopia could offer,
but also the inevitable economic integration the countries in the Horn would
embrace. It is to be recalled that Kenya and Sudan had also signed
hydroelectric power supply agreement with Ethiopia.
an expensive source of electricity. Therefore, the Ethio-Djibouti hydroelectric
power interconnection would definitely ease the burden of business operators in
Djibouti, Kenya and Sudan. Considering the fact that small enterprises
operating in Djibouti are, on average, incurring 30 thousand Birr per month for
their electric bill, hence, it would be attractive for Djibouti to purchase extremely
cheaper and clean electric power from Ethiopia. This and other new development
in the Horn would led to an energy based economic integration or interdependence
in the Horn region.
rightfully expect that Egypt will soon join this interconnection and soon we will
see Ethiopia serving as “the power hub of the North-eastern Africa,” as the
late PM Meles Zenawi had envisioned.
In the near future, we will
surely have an organization named as “Multilateral Commission for the Horn of
Africa” that is mandated to foster closer cooperation and strive to resolve common
concerns the countries in the region. And seek ways to improve public
understanding of such problems and to support proposals for handling them
jointly, and to nurture habits and practices of working together among the Horn
countries. With this, it will herald that time for conflict has gone and the
time for cooperation has come.
Hailemariam’s recent visit to
Djibouti would reassure us that economic integration of the two countries will be
realized so sooner than many can expect. The leaders of both countries have reflected
their strong commitment to redefine the stereotypic and longstanding features
of the region, which is war and hunger. This exciting change of political
disposition has prompted me to appraise the current standing of the Horn in
light of the basic percepts endorsed by the foreign policy of Ethiopia.
To begin with, the foreign policy
of Ethiopia is not formulated by reiterating hollow grandeur, which is driven by
such hypocritical vanities that the past regimes used to harbor.
Following the introduction of the
new foreign policy, Ethiopia has achieved huge diplomatic success and excellent
neighborly relationship with many of its neighbors. It has also played
indispensable role in pacifying the Horn. Ethiopia has leading role in brokering
and restoring peace in Sudan and Somalia. It is also instrumental in the
ongoing negotiation process being carried out under the auspice of the regional
body called IGAD. The vigilance and dedication it has shown in the negotiation
or arbitration process to end the civil war in South Sudan is simply admirable.
Ethiopia’s foreign policy would enable it to forge strategic bilateral
relationship with all its strategic partners. Ethiopia was active in appraising
the strength and weakness of our continental organization AU and has played significant
role in framing AU’s fifty years vision.
Ethiopian government has adopted a new broader definition of national security.
Therefore, its primary focus is not a military defense or regime stability. The
redefinition of its foreign and security policy is primarily driven by an
inward looking assessment of its basic national interest. It has adopted realistic,
rather than idealistic disposition, in the formulation of its foreign and
security policy. The policy is born out of the conviction that one’s national
security cannot be guaranteed by having a well-trained and armed defense force,
but by establishing a vibrant democratic system, which would at the same time
serve as an essential prerequisite to create sustainable and all-inclusive development.
history of the region can indicate, the undemocratic states in the region have
failed to be representatives and therefore contain all the seeds for both the
intra and inter-state conflicts. Beggaring one’s neighbor is a nuanced or
finely developed political art of the Horn. Hence, like every other state in
the region the policy Ethiopia was pursuing in the past can be characterized by
a policy of regional destabilization. The bid for regional power was aggression,
which is still true as far as the Eritrean regime is concerned.
we have very fragmented regional diplomatic landscape and weakened regional
organization. The current Ethio-Djibouti relationship clearly signifies a
detachment from the past political culture that had been nurturing aged old
intractable conflicts and war, which had constantly been destabilizing the Horn.
The strong economic tie among countries in the Horn is the product of the
changed attitude born out of the general democratization effort undergoing in
the demise of the notorious Derge regime, Ethiopia has taken courageous
steps that had helped her to relive herself from the overwhelming historical
challenges that have remained unsolved for ages. In the period after 1991, the
country has embarked upon huge national projects that have created the momentum
to spur sustainable development.
has begun this remarkable process by overhauling the longstanding political
system that had been strangling the Ethiopian people for so long a time. This
has created a venue where the voices of the voiceless have gotten unique
attention. Marginalized ethnic groups in Ethiopia have courageously worked to redefined
“Ethiopianess” anew. We behold this enticing event taking over where the
deplorable situation that has engulfed the country for ages have started to
dissipate and made Ethiopia hospitable to its citizens and attractive to its
political change that has effected a notable economic and social transformation
not only changed the way Ethiopians view themselves, but also the perception
they had towards their neighbors. In appreciating the perception of the later,
it is worth examining the foreign and security policy and strategy adopted by
the FDRE government.
is not, as it has been the case in the past, formulated by recanting the
objective reality and reiterating a tangentially created hollow grandeur. The
new policy has insulted itself from such hypocritical vanities that
characterize such policies adopted by the past regimes. It rather has take on a
new broader definition of national security with an inward looking stance.
Thus, its primary focus is not a military defense or regime stability; but
democracy, good governance and development.
of this policy, it is not the nature of the state in the neighboring countries
that would mainly dispose Ethiopia vulnerable to any foreign aggression, but
the absence of democracy and sustainable development within.
past successive regimes of Ethiopia had failed to develop a viable political
and economic formula to govern the internal affairs, they were also unable in
establishing a regional cooperation in the conflict ridden Horn of Africa.
of Africa is one of the most fragile crisis regions in the world. And that is
reflected in the regionalized civil wars and inter – state rivalry in this
sub-region. The net result of these failures indeed was a protracted internal
strife and regional instability.
used to be a very complex or hard to analyze, thus creating a confused picture
in the mind of scholars who tried to grapple with issues of the sub-region. The
region was characterized by a diverse complexity of issues that would baffle
even the most intelligent of the towering talents who attempt to study the inflexible
conflict in the region. However, recent development has changed the unruly
character of the Horn and it started to be intelligible. Thus, scholars are
suggesting an energy-led (water and oil) economic cooperation and integration
would be a viable scheme to bring a lasting peace in the Horn of Africa. I
would say that the foreign and security policy and strategy of the Federal
Democratic Republic of Ethiopia has in its way the same flight deck.
anything, the policy EPRDF formulated has surely dispelled the misperceptions
of the past regimes, and is informed by the objective reality of the country to
ensure the benefit of the people of Ethiopia and the sub-region as well. This
unprecedented economic growth in Ethiopia has evidently shown a spillover
effect on the rest of the region.
government, apart from ensuring the political system of Ethiopia to be
hospitable to its citizen, has also devised an economic policy that has brought
a fast and sustained economic growth which could serve in turn as strong
catalyst or vehicle for regional security, cooperation and integration.
to the foreign policy of Ethiopia, ending up an internal strife and regional
conflict could not be possible without having a meaningful economic integration
in the sub-region. That was the message conveyed by the late Prime Minister
Meles Zenawi in the speech he had delivered at the inauguration of the power
interconnection of Djibouti with Ethiopia. His message was that “the success of
achieving stability in an individual country of the Horn would substantially
depend on the overall stability of the Horn in general.”
course, most of the states in the region are still undemocratic and truly not
representatives in nature. Therefore, many of them contain within themselves
the seed of internal political conflicts. Absence of democracy and good
governance has indulged countries in the sub-region into intra and inter-state