By Zeleke Tesfaye
Tigrai Onlne - July 14, 2014
Recently our country hosted two of our world’s super power countries’ high level delegation in a span of one week – American and china. In American side, it was led by the country’s secretary of state John Kerry, while the China’s delegation was led by the country Premier Li Keqiang. At a time when our world’s balance of power has shifted from Uni-polar international system to a bi-polar one, the fact that world’s economy number one and number two, Washington and Beijing, visited our country in the same week is really something. This also shows how much our country is in demand from Africa and East Africa.
In my opinion these world’s top two politico-economic giants have their own reasons behind their visit and interest on our country. I believe they are well aware that the country is rapidly growing; it has conducive investment policy and suitable climate, immense potential, political stability, blooming democratic culture and order, successful diplomacy at various international, continental and regional arenas and its commitment in fighting terrorism. And as far as I can understand, the fact that the country served as a politico-economic centre of gravity for both American and china in a matter of days shows the country’s weight and how much it’s in demand.
Dear readers I hope you understand that this article doesn’t concern with the visit of the country, but rather it makes a probe into what made Ethiopia the object of desire for both Washington and Beijing. Thus, in this article I will try to walk you through how our country reached to its current allure status by probing into what kind of two-way relationship the country set up with both countries. I will start with the Ethio-American relation ……
As its known, the Ethio-American relationship, except for its brief disruption during the ‘derg’ era, has flourished through many generations; along with positive starts. And today, the relation of both countries is laid on a firm base. And this firm relationship is led by policy and principle protects the both countries’ national interest, and is based on respect and mutual interest.
On our country’s part, a relation that’s based on clear and concise policy, with regards to America, is established. Its tuned to our country’s national interest and adheres to ‘give and take’ approach. And the relation respects Ethiopia as a sovereign country and does not have an opening for it to be meddled by foreign forces on its internal affairs. And the way the government operates makes our country beneficiary and does not allow for foreign forces to interfere in any internal matter.
And this fact is clearly understood by our American counterparts. I think when Washington was setting up the bilateral relationship; they understood that they cannot impose their will on Ethiopia. They have their own reasons for this. The fact that our country is invested in building a democratic order and development, its geo-political importance in the region, and the fact that it’s playing a major role in bringing peace and stability to the region along with its acceptance in the international and continental arena are some of the reasons. And since these realities and key activities of our government and people are in the domain of American’s interest and wishes, they have served as a cornerstone for mutual benefit of the bilateral relation.
The core of the relationship revolves around even benefit based on equality; it does not take the one as “master” and the other as “servant”. Washington knows very well that there’s no logical reason for it to meddle in our internal affairs with regards to policy issues, as our country does not enter its hands in American’s affair. The principle of International diplomacy does not allow for this to happen. I think it’s appropriate to understand that ‘do this, don’t do that’ approach is not acceptable in relationship that’s based on mutual interest.
America believes that the FDRE government is developing the country in the economic and other sectors. This is what the country’s secretary of state John Kerry tried underline during his visit in our country. He has said …
“… I’m really pleased to be back in Africa and to be back in Addis Ababa, a city of enormous energy, and in a country that is really changing and on the move …. I think it’s fair to say that Ethiopia, in terms of its economy and in other ways, is really on the move, and it is a place that is generating enormous energy. All you have to do is drive through Addis, as I have several times in the last hours, and you see the economic activity, you can see the numbers of cranes and construction that is taking place, and it provides a snapshot of the country’s rapid development.”
“It is no wonder that Ethiopia is one of the eight African economies that is one of the 10 fastest-growing economies in the world. The United States remains committed to supporting Ethiopia’s growing prosperity, and we do that because strong commercial ties and this rate of development are critical to having shared prosperity, critical to providing opportunity to the broad population, and they also – it helps to provide stability and helps to provide the capacity for Ethiopia to be able to lead in some of the other initiatives that are so critical to stability in the region.”
Secretary of state John Kerry’s speech did not end with this. He has stated his admiration of Ethiopian leaders for the efforts they put out to solve Somalia’s and Sudan’s problems. He also showered praise commendation on the FDRE defense forces on securing peace in the controversial Abeiy region and for its recent successful effort in liberating towns from Al-Shabaab control, as part of the UN’s AU mission in Somalia, and on working diligently to promote. What this testament of the American government shows is that there is seasoned diplomacy that exists between both countries that’s based on mutual interest and respect, and non-interference approac - a strong relationship that have spanned more than a century.
Here I like to say one thing to some of the would-be oppositions and the extremist Diasporas, which want to take shortcut to power by disregarding their own people’s sovereign power, and who are hard time hearing Secretary Kerry’s testament, as they are pervious to a standard bilateral relation. That is, a democratic order that is under the sphere of influence and pressure of the American Government cannot exist in our country. If these forces can have their way, they won’t back down from entering into anti-public activities as they don’t understand the principle of mutual benefit. They should know that, there won’t be a democratic order that will be established by foreign forces interference in our country if we take into the county’s current facts on the ground into account – but only through the will of the people and government of our country.
Although the oppositions dream to import a version of democracy that’s not in sync with our country’s realities from foreign lands, they should understand the bitter fact that the developmental democratic order that’s being built in our country does not need anyone’s approval. The likes of Engineer Yiliqal and ‘leaders of ‘Andinet’ party, the self-contradicting oppositions, Abebaw Gelaw, the supervisor of ‘Ginbot 7’ propaganda machine ‘ESAT’; should know that no matter how much sack of lies they carry to foreign embassies, persistence in the media or hilariously stalk President Obama to ask him to give democracy to Ethiopia, it won’t amount to anything as there will be no democracy that will build outside of the people’s consent and wishes. Dear readers as you can understand, our country’s democratic system is established upon the people’s vote and consent. And our constitution, the fulcrum of our democratic order, is a document that’s ratified by the wishes and consent of Ethiopia’s nation, nationalities and people. Colliding with the document means a direct clash with the voting public. Nevertheless, the opposition camp has been undermining the constitution in the past four elections by disregarding the public - in order to take a short take to power.
However, in this entire bustle the public was sending a message to the opposition to get its hands out of the constitution. And the oppositions reply was ‘I won’t bow to your wishes, I’m working to setup foreign powers puppeteered democratic order’. During the 2002 election, the public responded back strongly. As the opposition camp came at its existence, the public replied by saying - ‘what we want is not an unconstitutional party; and an unfit or copied democratic order’. Going further than this, the public punished the oppositions through its vote.
Here dear reader, it should be noted that anyone can have dreams and wishes – as long as it takes realities on the ground into account. Trying to import a democratic establishment or order from foreign lands, as a commodity, is a discreditable effort. As I have tried to mention it earlier, the democratic order that’s being built in Ethiopia is through the people’s vote and consent, and not through the wishes of foreign powers. So, the culprits behind the building of our country’s democratic order are the people of Ethiopia, and not the likes of President Obama; unlike what some extremist Diasporas like Abebe Gelaw are assuming.
America is not the alpha and omega of democracy. And I don’t think the country to be that by meddling in other countries’ internal affairs. Of course the Washington authorities or neo-liberal extremist might say whatever they want coming from their own perspective and interests. In my opinion, these comments are taken and respected as comments. As done in every other country, these comments are accepted if they are constructive criticisms, but if they are just some random rumors that don’t fit with our country’s realities or if they are just plain hateful blabbers, I don’t think they will find any ears.
Other than this, people like Abebe Gelaw; who work for organizations that are deemed as terrorist by our country’s highest authority, the house of peoples’ representatives, should know their shouting won’t amount to anything as they won’t stir any change on our country’s democratic order building process. This is because it’s only our country’s people and government that are important in this respect. And a certain government and people do what’s necessary to protect their national interest; there won’t be anything they would do to satisfy foreign powers orders or commands, or extremist Diasporas empty shouts.
Dear readers, let me stop probing on John Kerry’s correct assessment testament of our country, and the power-crazed extremist Diasporas’ day dreaming here, and move the second visit our country hosted – the visit of the China’s Premier. I should start by looking into Ethio-Chinese bilateral relation first …
As it’s known, Ethiopia and People's Republic of China have historical ties based on mutual values that has spanned many and long years. When both countries think of their relationship, it takes both countries’ ancient civilization and long history into account. However, information shows that their diplomatic relationship started only after 1970. They have been able to setup much political and economical relationship within these years. It can be said they have been able to establish a bilateral relation in which one does not interfere in the other’s internal affairs and where peaceful cooperation reigns.
Within these years of diplomatic relation, china has demonstrated that it’s dependable and a genuine partner. The country has and still is playing an irreplaceable major role in our country’s struggle against poverty. The current strong level of relationship both countries reached is a testament to this. In addition to this, the growing top official to top official links and raft of treaties that are signed on various bilateral issues goes out to show the strength of the relation and level of appeal.
In his official visit to our country, the political capital of Africa, in the first leg of his African tour which included 129 top officials, Premier Li Keqiang has stated his country’s wish to further grow and deepen its relation with Ethiopia hinting to work in a ‘win-win’ approach. Considering the fact that the Premier also stated China’s interest in development of potash, oil and gas exploration and development and management of special economic zones, goes out to show how much our country is evoking the interest of the East’s super economy as well.
Premier Li stressed that China was willing to transfer industrial technologies to Ethiopia, and to share experiences in establishing special economic zones and industrial areas, echoing his commitment to encourage Chinese enterprises and financial institutions to invest in Ethiopia. Chinese ministers and company executives accompanying Premier Li have signed 16 deals with their Ethiopian counterparts, on various infrastructural and economic cooperation.
The agreements include a comprehensive framework agreement for the period 2015-2024, signed by Ethiopia’s for Finance and Economic Development Ministry and china’s Minister of Commerce, loan release for the Dire Dawa-Dewalle highway (which is more than 34% completed), extending interest free 150 million Remnibi loan for Welkait sugar development project, Implementation Program for the years 2014-2017 under the cultural cooperation agreement, Treaty on Mutual Legal Assistance in Civil and Commercial Matters, Agreement on China – Ethiopia Economic and Trade Cooperation Zones. In relation to the industrial parks, it was announced that four Chinese companies have finalized arrangement with Ministry of Industry to start industrial park in Ethiopia.
There is one thing though we should not forget looking at these issues. That is these two superpower countries not only have the biggest economies but also a political clout that reaches. And as far as I can understand, the bilateral relation Ethiopia has with two countries can be the cornerstone of a partnership that’s based on the principle mutual benefit.
Although it’s obvious that a country should work to grow through developing its own inner potential, it can’t be denied that it should also work cooperatively with other countries on issues that are outside its own capabilities. Especially, in this day and age of globalization, a single country cannot do much alone. It’s not a time where one can live compartmentalized from the rest of the world. As the world is changing into a single village where one can get anything from others easily, in parallel, the interrelation is deepening. Thus, I think the high delegation visit of both American and china, on top of confirming our country’s attractiveness; it should be looked from this perspective as well.
Our country’s relation and agreements with the likes of china will facilitate and hasten its development by enabling it to utilize its scant resource. As the science of economics suggests, if a country is able to utilize its abundant resources and save its scarce resource, there is nothing to hold that country from entering a path of development. And if we look this from our country’s reality, Ethiopia’s abundant resources are its land and manpower; and its scarcity capital. And if the country is able to properly utilize its abundant resources and save its scarce resources whilst doing investment with other countries, then the country’s prospect of joining middle-income countries will become a sure thing – as this strategy has already enabled the country to reach the continent’s high’s of development.
As its known, the world is in a rapid change. The Uni-polar international system which reigned after the end of the cold-war is now giving way to a multi-polar international system. In this system, on top of American, China and India are creating new centers of power. In fact, according to new studies, in less than 40 years there will be five giant economies – American, India, China, Russia, Brazil and South Africa.
As American has been able to build a large economy, the whole world is now giving attention to the new five economies that are known simply by their acronym ‘BRICS’. The ‘BRICS’ are group of countries that have been able to propel their economy, outside neo-liberalism ideology, with their own pragmatic approaches. As the countries have a huge role and influence in UNs Security Council, they are garnering the attention of many countries.
Africa is establishing various relations with these developing countries. Out of these relations, the Indian-Africa and China-Africa forums that took place in our capital at various times can serve as instances. Of course the economic relation these countries established with Africa cannot be seen from the perspective of competition. Instead it envisions benefiting the involved parties evenly. And it is this principle our country relationship with these countries is based upon. Thus, it should be understood the agreements our country made with either China or the other countries follows this path.
However, it has become to see some of our country’s opposition and extremist Diasporas, who are impervious to this international reality, opening smear campaign against our country’s effort to develop its untapped natural resources through cooperating with various countries. These forces either don’t know or does not want to know the fact that leasing natural resources that cannot be developed by our country, to other countries that can, in a manner that can reap mutual benefit to all parties involved, instead of just sitting with it, is profitable and more advantageous. And they don’t our country and people to reap benefits from schemes like these. They just simply utter out the words “our natural resources are given to foreign forces”.
Here it should be asked, “What is the harm in our country developing its natural resources - resources it can’t develop on its own - through foreign investment?” and the answer to this question is simple. Unless it’s to quench their opposition-for-opposition-sake ritual, they themselves don’t know any other source of finance needed to develop our natural resources. Thus, denying the truth just to gain petty personal political expedience will nt gain them anything expect being judged in the court of the public opinion.
All in all, as a consequence of its adhered sound policies and the subsequent rapid and sustainable development has made our country the most attractive destination in Africa, as seen from the visit of the two largest economies.