By Siyanne Mekonnen @Siyaanne
Addis Abeba, June 18, 2021 – An alarming video with claims from Pekka Haavisto, Foreign Minister of Finland and EU’s envoy to Ethiopia has emerged in which the top EU diplomat alleged that Ethiopian leaders told him in February of their intents to “wipe out the Tigrayans.”
FM Haavisto briefed members of the European Parliament on June 15 regarding major challenges facing Ethiopia in particular and the Horn of Africa in general including the war in Tigray, GERD negotiations, border dispute with Sudan and other related regional matters.
Addis Standrad’s repeated attempts to reach out to the press secretary at the Prime Minister’s Office and the spokesperson of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs were unsuccessful.
The alarming allegations by Mr. Haavisto were made in response to questions from Irish member of the EU Parliament Mick Wallace. The Finnish FM and top EU envoy spoke about violence against women in the Tigray region describing it as “something that has probably never happened in a war zone in that region.” He then wen on discussing about the talks he had with Ethiopian leaders during his visit in February. He confessed that “the Ethiopian leaders” responded by rather strongly worded languages such as “We are going to destroy” and “wipe out the Tigrayans for one hundred years”
“For me this referred to very serious human rights atrocities and crimes” he said, adding “If you wipe out a national minority, it’s obvious that we have to react because it looks like ethnic cleansing.”
He also touched on the human rights assessments being carried out by the Ethiopian Human rights commission, recalling that it was one of the preconditions by the Ethiopian government to allow the involvement of the UN high commissioner for human rights. “You might ask if they could be biased,” he said.
“If you wipe out a national minority, it’s obvious that we have to react because it looks like ethnic cleansing.”Pekka Haavisto
Haavisto was assigned by the high representative for security and policy in the EU, Joseph Barrel, to visit Sudan and Ethiopia in February. He also made a second visit in April to discuss Tigray. The Ethiopian government accused the EU of failing to recognize the ‘overall objective of the operation’ and projecting an unbalanced and overrated view of the situation.
FM Haavisto highlighted that there was improvement in humanitarian access since his last visit but underscored that safe access remains a challenge to humanitarian organizations. “War is still going on” he acknowledged, and explained the threats that lack of information about ongoing military operations poses to the humanitarian community. “The government should continue to allow humanitarian access and stop hostilities.”
While discussing the GERD, the EU envoy observed that Egypt and Sudan contest the building of the dam and were pressuring Ethiopia. Sudan, according to him, is keen to know how the dam will be managed and whether or not the construction of the dam will cause flooding. Egypt, on the other hand, wants to know how the dam will affect the volume of water and its share of the river, he said.
The FM recommended that Ethiopia should come to the table with information and technical data ahead of the second round of filling of the dam in the rainy season. He noted that Egypt is increasing its military capacities in the area and the use of hostile language. He insisted that Ethiopia should ease the tension by sharing information. He called on the AU to work closely with the EU and the US to resolve the issue.
He mentioned the ties between Ethiopia, Eritrea and Somalia which he referred to as a ‘strange new triangle’. The regional cooperation is no longer IGAD but the cooperation between Ethiopia, Eritrea and Somalia which according to him is “not a very friendly triangle to the rest of the countries in the region’. He also called on Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates to use their influence to resolve the GERD issue and find a peaceful resolution for the conflict in Tigray. The FM also disclosed efforts being made to ease tension in Somalia and mend Somalia-Kenya ties. He said, “We Succeeded in pressuring Somalia to hold an election. Now hopefully Somalia will mend its relationship with Kenya.”
The FM said, “We have been appealing to Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates to use their influence to resolve the GERD issue and find a peaceful resolution for the conflict in Tigray. Also with regards to the Al-Fashaga triangle conflict, Arab countries like the United Arab Emirates can use their influence by stirring their investments and helping parties to come to the negotiation table, he said. “The UAE has been organizing talks, has a lot of information, and transatlantic cooperation.” the Finnish FM said, further disclosing that there were contacts with the US Special envoy to Horn of Africa Jeffery Feltman. He said, “We are in contact with him and exchanging information.” AS