The late Prime Minister Meles Zenawi is remembered as a pragmatic leader who explored every means to ensure peace and change the discourse of hostility into amity among Horn African states as nation commemorates fifth year of his untimely death.
From mediating peace agreements to deploying peacekeeping forces, Meles has long been described as committed leader with fair share of contribution to pacify the volatile and unstable Horn.
The late Prime Minister is also thought to have turned the feature of Ethiopia's relation with neighboring countries form threatening each other to treating one another. Ethiopia since the leadership of Meles till now has been playing the role of 'peace negotiator' in the Horn, while peacekeeping mission has massively evolved during his leadership.
Meles did not leave any stone unturned to ensure peace and stability in the region, which some attribute to his understanding of regional politics and the fact that his country could not be peaceful while the sound of gun is ramming in neighboring countries. Hence, he was almost behind every peace agreements to end the conflict between Sudan and South Sudan.
"Meles was a pragmatic leader who helped neighboring countries particularly the South Sudan. South Sudan will never forget such a personality. His loss was a loss to peace loving people," says South Sudanese Ambassador to Ethiopia, James Morgan.
"He played a vital role in helping our country's struggle to freedom morally and materially. It was through his efforts that a peace agreement was reached between the two countries, he adds. But after the agreement, the implementation was difficult in that moment. And it was him again that was able to navigate opportunities to mediate the Sudan and South Sudan to make sure that the agreement is implemented and resulted in the country's successful completion of the interim period.
According to Morgan, Meles shuttled among Juba, Cartoon and Addis Ababa to push both sides to implement the accord. He left a lot of projects that can still benefit the region if implemented properly. The peacekeeping force he sent is still there in Abaye. That brought stability in the war-torn area and peace is holding. Without the Ethiopian peacekeeping force, the area would go out of control. His legacy has continued till now.
Again, Meles was also is the engineer of Ethiopia's foreign policy that push for the principle of non-interference and cooperation.
All Meles' contributions towards regional stability and peace began with designing a wonderful foreign policy. The policy that he brought into effect has long been the foundation for Ethiopia to have harmonious and smooth relation with neighboring countries, notes Vice Communication President Meles Zenawi Academy Tsegaye Mamo.
Unlike the previous regimes, the foreign policy was designed on the basis of national interests through maintaining peaceful relation with neighboring countries. He clearly came up with appropriate and effective strategies that establish mutual trust and cooperation with neighboring countries.
"Because he knew that Ethiopia could not be peaceful when there are conflicts on its doorsteps. He had spent his life time working day and night to restore peace in the region. He asserted well that peace would not be imminent without having peaceful and stable neighboring countries. For this reason, he had been helping peacemaking process in Somali and South Sudan and Ethiopia is still doing the same," he adds.
Because of his efforts, Ethiopia has been able to portray a positive image of the region and change the hostile discourse. That is why the country's foreign policy is considered among the best one.
When the soft powers failed to bring the intended peace and stability in the war-torn countries, Meles had also sent Ethiopian peacekeeping force, he says adding, the late premier had ordered a number of peacekeeping missions where they have brought the intended goal.
Some also praises him for being action oriented beyond mere rhetoric mentioning his principle of maintaining peace and collective security both in the context of the AU and UN and. On the other hand, he had tried to promote pan-Africanism where he repeatedly suggested African solutions for African problems.
"Meles' had pushed aggressively for deployment of peacekeeping forces that has been effective more than anybody in restoring peace and order wherever they were deployed. Under his leadership, Ethiopia has gained trust form neighboring countries that showed interest for Ethiopian peacekeeping force to be deployed in their territory," Tsegay underscores.
Foreign Affairs Spokesman Melese Alem for his part says the late primer had done meaningful job to ensure peace and stability not just in the horn and but in the entire continent. "He almost participated in every peace negotiations and dealings. Most of the negotiation among conflicting parties in Somalia and South Sudan had been taking place in Ethiopia brokered by Meles. He tried his best to ease the tough time both in Somalia and South Sudan."
He had this leverage and charisma to mediating warning parties in neighboring countries where his rationality and impartiality brought trust among negotiators, the Spokesman adds.