16 May 2018

Ethiopia: Implications of Dr. Abiy's Visit to Neighboring Countries


It is now a little more than a month since Dr. Abiy Ahmed came into office. Inevitably, the public and various media outlets are heard discussing his every move and performance so far.

The majority of the discussion agenda revolved around his visits to neighboring countries, namely Djibouti, Sudan and Kenya. Lots of logical and illogical stances in this regard are seen thrown here and there.

Meles Alem, Spokesperson to Ministry of Foreign Affairs, in his weekly media briefing, called the Prime Minister's visit a diplomatic success thus far.

Among the few points he mentioned in his press conference was on fact that the leaders of various countries have expressed their happiness with the peaceful power transition, and how they invited the PM to visit their respective nations.

Moreover, he stated that they all have expressed their interest to have a strong and all-rounded relationship with Ethiopia. Many other political leaders, such as Israeli's Premier, US Acting Assistant Secretary of State for African Affairs and senior officials of Saudi Arabia and China have all came and visited Ethiopia and discussed with government officials on ways to solidify the relations between their respective countries and Ethiopia.

"Development is unthinkable for a country in isolation from the rest of the world. So, we have to know the relevance of our neighboring countries and our importance to them," noted Meles.

The visits Dr. Abiy Ahmed made to the neighboring countries are not only fruitful in strengthening Ethiopia's relationship with them, but also in heightening their cooperation.

The internal and external affairs of a given country are inseparable like the two sides of a given coin. That is why the foreign policy of the nation is described as the reflection of its internal affairs.

It is uncommon to find countries that are interested to sit round a table and deal with countries that are seeped with socio-economic and political turmoils. Thus, a country should ensure its own internal peace, unity and growth if its voice is to be heard by international organizations and the global community.

That is why countries mostly focus on their internal peace and development issues. Consequently, if they have to win the interests of investors, and gain supporters for their development endeavors, much has to be done in the diplomatic sphere.

However, this is not enough and still much awaits to be done on the areas of external relations, for no country can be 100% complete on its own. So, leaders have to go out and visit other countries and discuss on such communal agendas face to face.

All in all internal policy and foreign relations are highly interrelated. Hence, the visits of the Premier made soon after he came to power show the commitment of the government to strengthen its relationship with the leaders of neighboring countries. And it is known that physical contact between peoples has a decisive role in intensifying their all-rounded relationships, and the same is true for that of leaders in solidifying the relationships between their respective countries.

The visit helped Ethiopia to express its deep interest to work with its neighboring countries. This in turn will enable the countries to further step up their cooperation by ensuring mutual trust among one another.

Also, as it can be recalled, Ethiopia has seen social unrest in recent times, which inevitably creates a need for providing answer and assurances to outsiders who are far away from the situation. It was not only Ethiopians who were worried, but also its neighboring countries and partners as well.

They had been worried about the direction Ethiopia was heading for. They had been questioning the possible consequences of the chaos both for the horn and the globe. "But, now, not only the situation is already changed but the aspiration, hope and the spirit of unity in Ethiopia has also made our neighboring countries and other partners happy. This confirms the belief that Ethiopians solve their problems on their own", Melese declared during his briefing.

This clearly showed that Ethiopians do not need any external third party's intervention and influence in their internal affairs even if it sometimes seems important.

The other very important aspect of the visit was to show Ethiopia's keenness and higher commitment to ensure the region's peace and economic integration. And the influence Ethiopia has in the region cannot be understated. The region is not only the place where Ethiopia is situated, but the countries within the sub-continent are also its market routes, so 'their peace is ours and their problems are ours too.'

Ethiopia has already gotten out of instabilities, and have started working to stabilize the region. It is also taking the lead in linking up the region through infrastructure. And it was all that has been shown and reflected during the visits made last month.

Ethiopians could develop a common sense on the new hope created after Prime Minister Dr. Abiy Ahmed held discussions with the society in various parts of the country on creating national consensus. The stability seen in Ethiopia internally has in turn created conducive environment to its foreign relations and diplomacy.


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