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"Don't waste money" going around countries to accuse Ethiopia: PM Abiy tells Somalia

Friday July 5, 2024

Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed told lawmakers today that it was not necessary for the government neighboring Somalia to go around other countries to accuse Ethiopia when issues between Ethiopia and Somalia due to the former’s attempts to secure direct access to the Red Sea, can be settled with “one hour flight and one our discussion with us.

“It is very simple because we have no fight with the Somali government,” PM Abiy said, but instead, the Somali government “chose to go around and accuse us.”

“My advice is don’t waste money; we spend money when we go around countries,” he said in a direct message. “There is no need to go around other countries to accuse us when it is possible to come to us in Addis Abeba. We are ready for a discussion, he said, adding that the money can be better spent on “building a one km walkway, or one school in Mogadishu; the people will benefit” from that, he said.

Ethiopia follows neighbor-centered and friendly foreign policy approach and the people of Somalia and the various Somali clans “live within us; we have sacrificed for peace in Somalia and the ruling party is showing its respect to Somalia and its people “more than any other government,” PM Abiy said, Ethiopia has “empowered” Somalia, and that the Ethiopian government “has no question about Somalia’s unity.”

Speaking about the 01 January Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with Somaliland, Abiy said it was signed after Ethiopia “had tabled the question to all our neighbors and received no response; after we begged [and] asked all, not because we have questions about Somalia’s unity.”

The Premier also pushed back against accusations that his government is working to dismantle Somalia. “Ethiopia doesn’t want the disintegration of Somalia; it would not have sacrificed its children” if it wanted that.

Sticking to his initial argument on gaining direct access to the sea, Abiy repeated the Ethiopian government’s request is “access to the sea. This is a legitimate question. Just like any other commodity it should be addressed peacefully and with discussion. Ethiopia is ready to accept that”.

He mentioned countries in the Horn of Africa, such as Somalia and Djibouti, that have access to the Red Sea but are not producing as much as Ethiopia does. “we have better land, better water, energy…there is no problem if we give avocado and share the [see access] that is trade. It is good to cooperate and march together, both for the region and the future of our children.”

Ethiopia’s legitimate question for sea access is therefor “not a question you can suppress by demanding for it not to be asked.”

He addressed the people of Eritrea, Djibouti, Kenya, Sudan, and Somalia “they are our brothers and we want no ill for them. We want to live in peace; this is a big country that has a big army, big people” and Ethiopia is like a big brother and a shield for all these countries that will be there in their times of need, not a force of destruction.

“But Ethiopia has a question, it is difficult to be landlocked with an economy of this size. This is a national interest issue.” Ethiopia wants to “reconcile this without lives lost; without insulting each other and without wasting money traveling to [other] countries. If there is a win-win approach for common benefit, the Ethiopian government is always ready to work together. It can’t be a shame when it is Ethiopia’s interest and correct when it is others’ interest,” he said.

On 01 July, the foreign ministers of Ethiopia and Somalia were in Türkiye for a discussion and decided to hold a second round talk in Ankara on 02 September. According to the joint statement, the ministers engaged in “candid and forward-looking exchanges concerning their differences, with Türkiye acting as a mediator.”

In a resolution issued in January this year, the members of both the Executive and the Central Committee, the ruling Prosperity Party (PP) said that the party has decided to bring the Memorandum of MoU “to a practical agreement” while simultaneously giving attention to the principles of give and take to secure additional options to port access with other neighboring countries.


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