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Research project on Ethiopia’s foreign policy making launched

“Ethiopia’s International Relations: The Foreign Policy Making and Determinants of an Emerging Giant,” a research project aimed at investigating the substance and formulation processes of Ethiopia’s foreign policy making since 1991 is launched on the 14th January 2014 in Addis Abeba. The project is implemented by the Ethiopian International Institute for Peace and Development (EIIPD) and the International Law and Policy Institute (ILPI) in collaboration with the Department of Political Science and International Relations at Addis Abeba University and the Ethiopian Development Research Institute.
The project, which has been active since mid 2013 and is now being finalized, examines Ethiopia’s foreign policy making and determinants in ten research papers focusing on such specific sectors as economic relations, while some of the theme deal with policies towards particular countries like Eritrea.
The project is believed to serve as a fundament for further deliberations on the country’s foreign policy development, for practitioners, students as well as the general public.

Studies focusing on Ethiopia’s foreign relations had normally been dealing with limited and specific topics like the border war with the neighboring Eritrea or the invasion of Somalia. Some others chose the subject as a backdrop of the general conflict dynamics in the Horn area. Nevertheless a systematic and comprehensive study of procedural aspects of the nation’s foreign policy making has been lacking. “This wide-ranging project is designed to fill those gaps,” says Sebhat Nega, Executive Director of EIIPD and a veteran of Ethiopia’s ruling party EPRDF.

Despite enjoying a relative political stability and economic boom as of late, the country is situated in a region prone to conflicts, putting its economic and political trajectory at risk, explains the project background. Since “the political fate of each state in the region has always been inextricably intertwined with that of neighboring states,” understanding the direction of Ethiopia’s international relations is essential. Besides the country is currently playing a considerable role in global and regional affairs.

In his introduction for the research papers, Mogus Teklemikael, Deputy Executive Director of EIIPD, writes that the single most important factor for the friendly relations Ethiopia is enjoying both with the West and other emerging economies like China is the fact that the economy has been stressed as dominant of foreign policy making. “In classical literature, economic interest is listed as one of the three pillars of foreign policy,” he maintains. “Economic diplomacy is popularized in official dissemination as a defining flagship of foreign policy and successes in international relations of the country.”

Some of the titles in the research project include “Navigating a ‘multi polar’ World: Ethiopia’s foreign Policy Towards ‘Old’ and ‘New’ Development Partners since 1991,” by Professor Fantu Cheru; “Ad Hoc or Grand Strategy? Ethiopia’s Policy Towards the AU,” by Dr. Mahari Taddele Maru and Abel Abate Demissie; and “Cooperation and Conflict: Ethiopia’s Approach to Dealing with he Global and Regional “Commons” (Climate and Hydro Politics)” by Dr. Yacob Arsano.

The research project was funded by the Swedish Embassy in Ethiopia and the Swedish International Development Agency (SIDA).

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