23rd Mar 2018


Ethiopia can address internal challenges by itself

  • Ethiopia's prime minister Hailemariam Desalegn (l) with EU commission Jean-Claude Juncker (c) and Federica Mogherini (r) at the signing of the Ethiopia-EU strategic engagement declaration in Brussels in June 2016. (Photo: European Commission)

In an opinion piece published on 6 October on EUobserver, Felix Horne, Ethiopia researcher at Human Rights Watch, said the European Union (EU) needed to adopt a new approach to Ethiopia, referring to the protests that have taken place in some parts of the country in recent months.

According to him, the EU has to use its role of main cooperation partner to "push Ethiopia" to accept an international investigation and take several measures, including respect of divergent views and bringing security forces to justice in case of illegitimate use of force. This would, according to Mr Horne, ultimately ensure the country remains a stable partner of the EU on the long term.

Thank you for reading EUobserver!

Subscribe now for a 30 day free trial.

  1. €150 per year
  2. or €15 per month
  3. Cancel anytime

EUobserver is an independent, not-for-profit news organization that publishes daily news reports, analysis, and investigations from Brussels and the EU member states. We are an indispensable news source for anyone who wants to know what is going on in the EU.

We are mainly funded by advertising and subscription revenues. As advertising revenues are falling fast, we depend on subscription revenues to support our journalism.

For group, corporate or student subscriptions, please contact us. See also our full Terms of Use.

If you already have an account click here to login.

However, this suggestion is off-topic. It assumes EU-Ethiopia cooperation is a unilateral donor-recipient relationship whereas it is based on mutual interest and respect. Both parties know how to govern their relations. The EU is a very important partner of Ethiopia and a constructive dialogue mechanism has been established.

Moreover, any imposed international investigation would be unacceptable. As prime minister Hailemariam Desalegn recently said, Ethiopia is a sovereign and independent country and it has its internal institutional mechanism for investigation and accountability.

Bypassing the institutional mechanisms would undermine and discredit the constitutional obligations of the government. The Ethiopian government, by the pertinent constitutional institution, will carry out its own investigation and rectify any shortcomings.

Not an easy task

When the Federal Democratic Republic was established in 1991, Ethiopia started working on democratic and human rights issues not because it was pushed from outside through financial or other incentives, but because its people and government firmly believed it is the only way for Ethiopia to accommodate the multiple identities and diversities in the country and to achieve prosperity and stability.

More fundamentally, as prime minister Hailemariam put it, these values are central for the very "survival" of the country which is made out of more than 80 nations and nationalities.

Implementing these values is not an easy task. Especially when the country's democratic history is a very young one. The government has to find a balance between maintaining law and order and delivering genuine solutions to people’s demands including lack of effective good governance and unemployment challenges.

Much work has been done, among others through a progressive constitution by protecting rights of individuals and groups. Moreover, the government has addressed the legitimate demands and launched deep renewal to address these challenges with the inclusive and full participation of Ethiopians from all walks of life.

To assess the cause of loss of life in the first wave of unrest that started in the two regional states of Oromia and Amhara in November 2015, the Ethiopian Human Rights Commission has made an independent inquiry presented to the national parliament.

It conclusions were that, though measures taken by the law enforcement agents and the federal police to control the situation were proportionate, in some specific cases security forces used excessive force to control the violence.

Complex situation

The government said it would make sure that those responsible for violence or illegal acts during the protests, or who were responsible for any undue use of force, would be brought to justice.

But the inquiry also pointed out that violent groups inside and outside the country, especially extremists in the diaspora, took part in the protests, hijacking legitimate demands by propagating hate speech through social media.

The repeated involvement in protests of several groups trying to undermine and ultimately overthrow the legitimate government of the country through violence has since then become even more obvious, as it has led to destruction of foreign investments, public and private properties and attacks on police, as reported in international media. This shows the complexity of the situation the government and security forces face.

In the last 25 years, the country has made tremendous progress in the economy, infrastructure, access to health and education among others.

It can now legitimately aspire to become a middle-income country by 2025. This was confirmed by a 2010 independent survey of people’s attitudes that revealed that 50 percent of the population believed they were better off in 2010 than in 2005 and three quarters expected this improvement to continue in the future.

Alongside these developments, new challenges have arisen related to access to jobs for young graduates, and lack of efficient and effective governance. The Ethiopian government is determined to address them in effective ways.

EU partnership

The European Union has been a key ally to alleviating poverty and improving the population's well-being. In this context, the EU is more important than ever to Ethiopia as a partner, and its role has increased during the past years following a set of high-level political consultations.

After significant milestones such as the Common Agenda on Migration and Mobility in November 2015 and the establishment of a friendship group within the European Parliament in March 2016, prime minister Hailemariam Desalegn and Jean-Claude Junker, European Commission president, signed an Ethiopia-EU strategic engagement document in Brussels on 14 June 2016.

Ethiopia values the partnership with the European Union helping the country to address its developmental issues and to face its internal challenges constructively. The European Union is also keen to intensify its partnership with Ethiopia as stated by an inter-service EU commission delegation currently visiting the country.

Teshome Toga, ambassador extraordinary and plenipotentiary of the Federal Democratic Republic of Ethiopia to the Benelux and Baltic countries and to the European Union

EU needs new approach on Ethiopia

The EU has recently shown willingness to criticise rights abuses in Ethiopia. It should go further and call for an international inquiry in the current crackdown on protests.

'Denial' - is meat the new climate change?

The European Parliament's agriculture committee meets on Tuesday, with speculation that the EPP will vote against a report on the EU plant protein plan if it mentions switching away from animals to plant-based diets.

Moria refugee camp is no place for people

Two years on from the highly-controversial EU-Turkey deal, many thousands of refugees are still trapped on Greek islands. One of them offers an open invitation to EU leaders to see their inhospitable conditions at the Moria refugee camp on Lesbos.

Four years on – but we will not forget illegally-occupied Crimea

Together with many other partners, including the United States, Canada and Norway, the European Union has implemented a policy of non-recognition and sanctions regimes, targeting people and entities that have promoted Russia's illegal annexation.

Column / Brussels Bytes

EU e-privacy proposal risks breaking 'Internet of Things'

EU policymakers need to clarify that the e-privacy should not apply to most Internet of Things devices. The current proposal require explicit user consent in all cases - which is not practical.

News in Brief

  1. EU calls for 'permanent' exemption from US tariffs
  2. Summit backs guidelines for future EU-UK talks
  3. Macron support drops as public sector workers go on strike
  4. EU leaders condemn Turkey for illegal actions in Aegean Sea
  5. Parliament must publish 'trilogue' documents, court says
  6. European Central Bank gets Spanish vice-chair
  7. Catalonia fails to elect president - again
  8. Slovakia gets new government after journalist assassination

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. EUobserverStart a Career in EU Media. Apply Now to Become Our Next Sales Associate
  2. EUobserverHiring - Finance Officer With Accounting Degree or Experience - Apply Now!
  3. ECR GroupAn Opportunity to Help Shape a Better Future for Europe
  4. Counter BalanceControversial Turkish Azerbaijani Gas Pipeline Gets Major EU Loan
  5. World VisionSyria’s Children ‘At Risk of Never Fully Recovering', New Study Finds
  6. Macedonian Human Rights MovementMeets with US Congress Member to Denounce Anti-Macedonian Name Negotiations
  7. Martens CentreEuropean Defence Union: Time to Aim High?
  8. UNESDAWatch UNESDA’s President Toast Its 60th Anniversary Year
  9. AJC Transatlantic InstituteAJC Condemns MEP Ana Gomes’s Anti-Semitic Remark, Calls for Disciplinary Action
  10. EPSUEU Commissioners Deny 9.8 Million Workers Legal Minimum Standards on Information Rights
  11. ACCAAppropriate Risk Management is Crucial for Effective Strategic Leadership
  12. EPSUWill the Circular Economy be an Economy With no Workers?

Latest News

  1. EU data chiefs rally behind UK over Cambridge Analytica
  2. Russian diplomats risk EU expulsions over UK attack
  3. Three presidents should attend Bosnia memorial
  4. Trump keeps EU leaders waiting on tariffs
  5. EU summit takes hard look at Russia
  6. Germany casts doubt on Austrian intelligence sharing
  7. EU leaders set for 'stormy debate' on digital tax at summit
  8. EU praises Turkey on migrant deal despite Greek misery

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. European Jewish CongressThe 2018 European Medal of Tolerance Goes to Prince Albert II of Monaco
  2. FiscalNoteGlobal Policy Trends: What to Watch in 2018
  3. Human Rights and Democracy NetworkPromoting Human Rights and Democracy in the Next Eu Multiannual Financial Framework
  4. Mission of China to the EUDigital Cooperation a Priority for China-EU Relations
  5. ECTACompetition must prevail in the quest for telecoms investment
  6. European Friends of ArmeniaTaking Stock of 30 Years of EU Policy on the Nagorno-Karabakh Conflict: How Can the EU Contribute to Peace?
  7. ILGA EuropeCongratulations Finland!
  8. UNICEFCyclone Season Looms Over 720,000 Rohingya Children in Myanmar & Bangladesh
  9. European Gaming & Betting AssociationEU Court: EU Commission Correct to Issue Guidelines for Online Gambling Services
  10. Mission of China to the EUChina Hopes for More Exchanges With Nordic, Baltic Countries
  11. Macedonian Human Rights MovementCondemns Facebook for Actively Promoting Anti-Macedonian Racism
  12. Nordic Council of MinistersGlobal Seed Vault: Gene Banks Gather to Celebrate 1 Million Seed Collections

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. CECEIndustry Stakeholders Are Ready to Take the Lead in Digital Construction
  2. ILGA EuropeAnkara Ban on LGBTI Events Continues as Turkish Courts Reject NGO Appeals
  3. Aid & Trade LondonJoin Thousands of Stakeholders of the Global Aid Industry at Aid & Trade London
  4. Macedonian Human Rights MovementEuropean Free Alliance Joins MHRMI to End the Anti-Macedonian Name Negotiations
  5. Mission of China to the EUChina-EU Tourism Year to Promote Business and Mutual Ties
  6. European Jewish CongressAt “An End to Antisemitism!” Conference, Dr. Kantor Calls for Ambitious Solutions
  7. UNESDAA Year Ago UNESDA Members Pledged to Reduce Added Sugars in Soft Drinks by 10%
  8. International Partnership for Human RightsUzbekistan: Investigate Torture of Journalist
  9. UNICEFExecutive Director's Committment to Tackling Sexual Exploitation and Abuse of Children
  10. Nordic Council of MinistersState of the Nordic Region 2018: Facts, Figures and Rankings of the 74 Regions
  11. Mission of China to the EUDigital Economy Shaping China's Future, Over 30% of GDP
  12. Macedonian Human Rights MovementSuing the Governments of Macedonia and Greece for Changing Macedonia's Name