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News: Ethiopia’s quest to access sea not a matter of “luxury but of survival”, premier’s security advisor briefs military attachés, reps of international partners

Ambassador Redwan Hussain briefing military attachés and representatives of international partners. Picture: ENA/collage

Addis Abeba – Ambassador Redwan Hussain, Security Adviser to Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed, briefed military attachés and representatives of international partners based in Addis Abeba that Ethiopia’s efforts to secure access to sea is not a matter of “luxury but of survival”, state daily reported on Thursday.

For the past three decades, Ethiopia has been conducting its import/export business through the port of Djibouti, he said, and added that it has now become important to find additional alternatives befitting of the current national and international dynamics.

“We are of course okay with one access in Djibouti for the last 30 years because the economy was so small. But now we are witnessing challenges as Ethiopia’s economy is growing from all corners of this country. One outlet is (therefore) not enough to sustain the economy. We need to come up with alternatives.”

The Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) that Ethiopia signed with Somaliland is therefore aimed at responding to Ethiopia’s growing economy and population size and not meant to harm anyone.

Ambassador Redwan pushed back against at what he said were the “dissemination of misleading information” with regard to the real intentions of the MoU, and explained in detail the aspects of the MoU to the foreign officials who attended the briefing.

“We are not taking away anybody’s land. We are just leasing land like everybody in Somaliland, not only us. But there are also countries that have already bases; and there are others which are lining up to get access in Somaliland,” Ambassador Redwan was quoted as saying, adding that Ethiopia “cannot survive unless we have some access to this base. It is for our survival one, and for us to be able to contribute positively for the peace and security of the region. We cannot just ignore this.”

Ethiopia has sacrificed a lot to ensure the peace and security of Somalia, Redwan said, adding that Ethiopia will continue to cooperate with Somalia and other neighboring countries based on mutual benefits.

“Now if it was okay to die on land to save Somalia, why would it be a problem to get access to sea? …. There is something that cannot be very much understood. It is quite baffling that they are complaining because we are about to get access to the sea. There is something that we have to reconcile on that matter.”

In its statement subsequent to the 42th extraordinary meeting, the IGAD underscored the significance of upholding the principles of sovereignty, unity, and territorial integrity of Somalia. The statement emphasized that any interaction or agreement between Ethiopia and Somalia should be undertaken with the explicit consent and active involvement of the federal government of Somalia.

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The regional bloc underscored the necessity of engaging in constructive dialogue and implementing de-escalation measures to mitigate tensions and cultivate harmonious relations between the two nations.

On Thursday, Somalia’s Foreign Ministry said that “there is no space for mediation unless Ethiopia retracts its illegal MoU” with Somaliland. The Ministry issued the statement in response to a call made by Peace and Security Council (PSC) of the African Union (AU) on Wednesday urging both Ethiopia and Somalia “to exercise restraint, de-escalate and engage in meaningful dialogue.” AS

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