By Mekonnen Kebede
Tigrai Online, October 30, 2013
Recently FDRE Foreign Minister Dr. Tewodros Adhanom has deliberated that our country’s relation with every country is based on a ‘mutual interest’ and this approach has reaped us positive results. The Minister’s remark shows Ethiopia’s current centric role in investment business and peace Mediation within East Africa, which was never seen during previous regimes. It’s obvious that these positive results have to do with the country’s adhered foreign policy’s success, especially considering its intensified employment during the last fiscal year. In this article, I will try to probe in to the policy’s strength and success.
As we all know it’s yesterday’s memory that Ethiopia’s name was synonyms with civil war and abject poverty. However, the country’s is fast changing these bad adjectives that have stuck with its name. As a result of the government’s and the people’ collaborative all-encompasing work done during the last 22 years, the country is starting to be seen in a new light on the international arena. Also with the dedicated effort of both the Ethiopian government and the people and the resulting strong and fast economic development, Ethiopia’s influence on the international political and diplomatic arena (is growing). The reason behind these positive results is the successful policies and strategies formulated and employed on different sectors for more than two decades. One of those successful policies and strategies is the ‘Foreign Affairs and National Security Policy and Strategy’. This policy and strategy which is based on the FDRE constitution’ foreign affairs principles stipulated on Article 86 which is to defend the country’s national interest, security and survival; to create a better image and assure the economic growth; to further strengthen the democratization process and affirm good governance along with guaranteeing a step by step benefit for all.
Here it’s important to note that every country’s foreign policy’s nature, substance and shape differ, according to their respective ideology and economic path. Considering this, it’s known that our country’s foreign policy and strategy under the Derg regime was riffed with many imperfections, which emanated from the regime’s innate dictatorial nature. With its ‘siege mentality’ the regime has led the country to a very deep economical mess and neverending war. It has cost the country the fruits of peace throughout its reign.
The regime’s adhered dictatorial policies not only forced Ethiopia and the people to look other neighboring countries in suspicion, but also the regime’s relationship with them was riffed with flexing muscle and hositility. Our country’s foreign policy which was in the aforementioned state, was completely changed both in form and shape following the downfall of the Derg regime. The new policy is based in securing our mutual interest and security.
The new FDRE constitution has laid the foundation for a foreign policy which invites regional and neighboring countries to work on mutual interests and peace. This new foreign affairs and national security policy unlike the previous one’s is not bent on pursuing foreign issues while diregarding internal problems. It first and foremost works to stabilize and ensure peace in the country by working to create long-lasting peace and mutual economic cooperation both, regionally and internationally.
The ‘Foreign Affair and National Security policy and strategy’ has the mission of securing our national interest and ensuring our national security. This foreign policy implicates that our relation with other countries is based on our country’s basic interest and security. It also implicates as the country’s developmental and democratic process is fast growing, vulnerability to threats that have an influence on our survival will dimish at a fast rate. Its obvious that guaranteeing development and democracy is an important tool to protect our country’s security. Basing on this, diplomacy’s vital role in curbing threats (our country face); in solving conflicts through negotiation and in strengthening the country’s deterence capability on situations that can’t be solved through peaceful means have all been clearly stipulated on the ‘Foreign Affair and National Security Policy and Strategy’. With regards to this, it’s important to look in to our country’s successes seen in the political, economic and social sphere as a result of the policy and strategy employed for the last 22 years during which our country is moving in a democratic and developmental path.
One of the policy’s objectives is political diplomacy. With this Ethiopia’s diplomatic relation with different countries and institutions is getting stronger by the day. The developmental diplomacy is at full swing. With a give and Take approach, Ethiopia is working to strengthen its relation with other countries and increase investment flow and (balance) trade ties which centers around a ‘mutual benefit’ principle. There are also huge efforts undertaken for the last 22 years to strengthen the country’s foreign policy and its influence in the international arena. Ethiopia is working to widen opportunities for peace and cooperation within the country and the region in order to create stable political condition and develop peaceful ways of solving conflicts. This adhered cooperation and peace based diplomatic principle is responsible to the country’s mutual benefit centered relationship it has with countries around the world. As a result the country’s relation with other countries; except for the havoc–crazed Eritrea’s ruling party, has reached to new heights. This is a direct effect of the change (both in theory/ideology and practice) the FDRE government made on the previous regimes approach of waging neighboring countries as enemy. The government has a committed belief that the country’s number one enemy is poverty. In addition to this it strictly beliefs the country’s association with humiliaion, backwardness and other threats will cease to exist through fast economic growth, successful democratization and good governance along with a public who benefit from it step by step. By preparing policies and strategies (formulated at different times) along with programs and projects based on this belief, it has been able to successfully lay plans for reducing poverty and ensuring development as well as putting together programs that guarantees food security. These plans and programs need large capital, technological know-how and huge skilled labor. This is where suitable conditions for capital resources courtesy of the ‘Foreign Affair and National Security policy and Strategy’, comes into play. In addition to domestic financial resources, there has been developmental finance originating from donor countries and institution as a result of the policy along with diplomatic and political efforts. Consequently, there is a need to find the resource the diplomatic world offers, in order to sponsor the growing need for human force in the subject. And the policy has laid the base in order to realize this need.
In other narration, helped by this same policy and strategy, Ethiopia is playing an important role in representing Africa’s voice in international arenas- of course former Prime Minister Meles Zenawi playing the leading role. Our country has also been able to successfully host the 50th African Union (AU) assembly. Prime Minister H/Mariam Desalegn’s remark ‘let make the 21st century, Africa’s century’, speaks high volumes of the fact that our foreign policy centers on mutual development and security and also the fact that it isn’t limited to internal matters.
The policy’s other success has to do with peace keeping. As it’s known Ethiopia’s peacekeeping missions in continental level has been going on for years. By stretching afar from Africa, Ethiopia has showed its commitment for peace by mobilizing its troops to Korea for a peace keeping mission after being asked by the UN.
As a consquence to peace-building diplomacy courtesy of the country’s Foreign Affair and national security policy and strategy, Ethiopia after the downfall of Derg has sent its peacekeeping troops at full strength and cooperative spirit to countries like Rwanda, Liberia, Burundi, Sudan, Darfur and Abiye, and has been doing a proud job. The growing acheivements and the new heights the peacekeeping mission is reaching, is a testament to the success of the policy and strategy.
The government has played (is playing) a major role on the Sudan and south Sudan issue, which emanates from its commitment for peace. As it is known, Sudan has been hit with years of civil war. It can safely be said that, this civil war is the Africa’s longest and devastating war. Moreover, there isn’t a time where the international community has ceased from putting diplomatic efforts to stop the civil war and ensure peace within the country. Out of those efforts to bring peace and stability to Sudan, former Prime Minister Meles Zenawi’s role takes the lion’s share. Our great leader had a wish to see the long lasting peace he built in his country, to be mirrored in Sudan. To turn this vision of his into reality, he has worked tirelessly until his unfortunate death.
Ato Meles worked tirelessly for Sudan’s cause out of his innate ‘pro-the mass’ outlook. We can understand the fact that the prime Minister looked to the Sudanese as he would his own people, as it can be seen from his commitment (for the issue) and outlook he displayed at various times. He played the lion’s share in stopping this civil war which is responsible for the loss of many lives and destruction of properties. Also, our great leader not only firmly believed Sudan’s peace and stability has an important role in Ethiopia’s sustainable development and peace, but also his actions were a testament to this (his) believe. Along with our great leader; who worked tirelessly for Sudan’s peace, the negotiation team led by the former South African leader has been workng to convince the two Sudan’s to come to peace.
The fact is we can’t take lightly the influence Sudan’s stability has on our country’s peace and development– seeing how the foundation for peace and development have been laid in our country. This makes neighboring countries’ unstable condition, a threat to our country- at least to our border areas. There will also be a mass exodus, and the number of refugees will rise. Thus, a peaceful and stable Sudan means a threat laden border. This will allow for developmental works to be done without any difficulties. In parallel with this, it will also help make inter-people relationship between the countries to be peaceful. It will especially help the countries reach to an improved place with regards to working on mutual things together (in cooperation).
As its known there are many options for Sudan to work with us; be it on trade, investment and so on. So, Sudan’s lack of peace has a huge impact on curbing a chance for strong developmental integration to take place. The first and foremost change that occurred as a result of our great leader and others diplomatic efforts with regards to Sudan’s peace is the south Sudan’s right to self-determination. With this South Sudan announce its independence. This is not only been by the majority of the international community as a good step, but it also gave hope for many that peace and stability will reign within both Sudan’s.
However, after few years of South Sudan independence, the expected peace and stability hasn’t been realized within the area. A renewed danger of war between the two Sudans still looms and the region’s peace is exposed to those same threats again. This opens the door to negatively influence our country’s peace and security. It can be said that the war threat that is looming on the region is not only shattering the hope for peace the two Sudans’ people have, but its also destroying the belief of the international community had on the Sudan issue.
Our great leader’s diplomatic works on Sudan’s peace has led for the two country’s governments and people to accept that our country is a true friend to them. And since this approach is seen both from the context of our country’s national interest and foreign policy principles along with the peace of our Sudanese brothers, it hasn’t stopped. The recent (shuttle) diplomatic effort of FDRE Prime Minister H/Mariam Desalegn and Foreign Minister Teodros Adhanom by moving back and forth between Khartoum and Juba can be evidence to this fact. Also, Ethiopia’s chief role to resolve the conflict between Somalia’s federal government and Interim Juba’s Administration, further confirms our country’s pursue peace is as a mutual issue. If there is no peace in neighboring countries, the (negative) effect will be felt by the other neighbor countries. So I believe our country’s committment to peace and the good work its doing should be much appreciated.
In parallel with this, the policy plays a huge role in attracting investment. As well all know in order for a country to pass for an attractive destination for investment, there are many things to be considered. They are (to name a few) peaceful and stable politics, thriving economy, developed infrastructure, huge market, enough skilled man power, investment friendly policies and massive natural resource.
Considering this, the fact that our country’s politics is stable and safe along with a thriving and fast growing economy and an upgraded infrastructure (which used to be low-level) shows that the country is indeed friendly for investment. However, these conditions alone are not guarantee for increase in investment. No matter how great the investment policies are, a country cannot be successful in attracting investment without an entity that promotes the country’s image to the rest of the world.
So by following the foreign policy and national security strategy under the supervision of foreign ministry, there have been excellent works done in promoting investment opportunities in Ethiopia to the rest of the world. As a result many investors are flocking in the country and are putting in their capital. Here it’s vital to know that Ethiopia’s investment opportunities centers around untapped natural resources and human power. To utilize these potential investment opportunities; countries like china, India, Sudan, Germany, Italy, turkey, Saudi Arabia, Yemen, England, Israel, Canada and the US are all getting involved on every sector.
It’s obvious that, these succeses and positive results are the result of a strong and mature foreign relation and diplomatic effort. Thus, we can easily see that the foreign policy and national security strategy’s role on the country’s growing investment is huge, which is getting us positive results in return. Since the policy is responsible for attracting many investor to the country, thereby creating for opportunities and technological transfer, its impact for the country’s economic growth cannot be taken lightly.
Basing on this and understanding the private sector’s impact on the economy, the Ethiopian government has improved the investment proclamation three times in the last 19 years to make it more competitive, attractive and precise. This is done to make the country more attractive to foreign investors and to allow it play its own role in the developmental aspect. It’s also clear that it can play a constructive role in realizing the government’s five year Grand Transformation Plan (GTP).
Understanding the developmental, de3mocratization, peace and good governance process underway in the country are a case of survival for the country, the FDRE government has been working on building a positive image for our country by using every possible opportunity that may arise within Ethiopian diasporas and the international community- as per the policy. Its obvious that promoting Ethiopia’s positive side is not only the responsibility of a handful professionals and politicians. The promotion work will be successful when the whole public is involved in it. And for this end the government has been building suitable conditions for it.
Generally, i have tried to look the successes of the ‘Policy Affairs and National Security Policy and Startegy’ in a bird’s view. In making our country’s diplomatic effort successful and in playing the leading role, his excellence Ato Meles Zenawi played a chief role. Our great leader H.E Ato Meles Zenawi has fought to enable our diplomacy play a major role in the country’s peace, development and democratization process. In addition to giving great and matured leadership. Thus, i believe we all should work to realize the policy’s objectives through the new foundation, founded in the name of this visionary leader’s name.
All in all the foreign policy has recorded many successes in the political, economic and social spheres along with the green development plans. Although the aforementioned success stories are ‘a drop in a bucket’, I believe they can represent the policy as a whole. I also have absolutely have no doubt that the policy will continue to be the reflection of our country’s identity in the international arena.