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Letter to the Editor of Politico Europe

Re: A response to the opinion published on the politico Europe on August 02, 2021, by Baroness Arminka Helič on Ethiopia.

The opinion piece that was featured on the Politico on August 02, 2021, titled ¨ In Ethiopia, echoes of Yugoslavia¨ by Baroness Arminka Helič is factually and conceptually incorrect and a misconstrued parallel.

The writer in her attempt to draw a parallel with Yugoslavia has failed to understand the socio-political, historical, and cultural contexts of the country and its people. To begin with, Ethiopia and its people are known for their cultural and religious tolerance and lived in harmony for many centuries. There exists no enmity among the people of Ethiopia. Therefore, comparing the current situation in Ethiopia with the Balkans is a complete malposition.

The writer also, without properly understanding the nuances of the official Ethiopian language and statements made by our leaders with regard to TPLF, misinterpreted the description labelled at the TPLF clique as made on our compatriots in Tigray. Unless the writer intentionally tries to hoodwink the international community with an attempt to draw unwarranted interventions through disinformation and outrageous ideas, no Ethiopian official has incited ill intentions against its own people as what the writer laboured to portray.

The Tigray People’s Liberation Front (TPLF), that provoked the conflict back in November 2020 by attacking the national defense bases in Tigray region, is now labelled as terrorist group by the Ethiopian Parliament. The TPLF leaders who caused and led the conflict in Ethiopia must be brought to justice for their act of war. No country would sit frivolously by while an attack is committed from any corner.

As to the situation in Tigray region, the Ethiopian Government, with the aim of resolving the problem in the region, has enacted a unilateral humanitarian ceasefire. The TPLF clique rejecting this peaceful gesture, rather has opted to aggravate the situation by continuing fighting. The writer’s adoration of the TPLF’s destabilizing character through expanding the conflict to neighbouring provinces demonstrates nothing but her intention of trying to justify the act of the TPLF as legitimate one and more so directed to unjustifiably impose sanctions on Ethiopia.

The Embassy of Ethiopia not only rejects the erroneous opinion by the writer but also would like to request her as a respected official of a reputed country to act in a responsible manner instead of sensationally drawing comparison between incomparable for the benefit of maliciously calling for an unwarranted action.

The Embassy of Ethiopia

Brussels

 

The Embassy of Ethiopia in Brussels Meets the Community of Ethiopian Students

H.E Ambassador Hirut Zemene and the diplomats engaged with the diaspora and bilateral cooperation have met various representatives of #Ethiopia-n students in universities in Belgium.
The meeting was focused on assessing the situation of the scholarship provided by the universities and to exchange views on the current situation in Ethiopia as it is being regularly done with the Ethiopian community in Belgium and Luxembourg.
Ambassador Hirut and diplomats in the Embassy have briefed the students about the current status with regards to the Unilateral Humanitarian Ceasefire extended by the Government of Ethiopia, efforts made to reach out those in need of humanitarian assistance and the need to mobilize support to fend off the disturbance and terror that the TPLF clique is waging.
Representatives of the student’s community have expressed determination to do their parts to support the efforts in the country including by creating a healthy environment within the Ethiopian community in their respective universities. They have also demanded to get regular update about the current situation in Ethiopia to which the Embassy promised to beef up the information sharing mechanism.
The two sides agreed, as the situation with COVID permits, the relaunching of direct visits and links with the various universities by the Embassy will commence.
Participants came from the University of Ghent, KU Leuven, VUB and Hasselt.

Tigray Region Humanitarian Assistance Updates

Following the Government of Ethiopia’s enactment of a unilateral humanitarian ceasefire in the Tigray region, to enable farmers to undertake the seasonal farming activities and facilitate humanitarian assistance, we are witnessing the impediment by TPLF remnants of assistance delivery to those in dire need.

Prior to the June 29th 2021 enactment of a humanitarian ceasefire and related withdrawal of the Ethiopian National Defence Force from Mekelle and other cities in the region, the National Emergency Coordination Committee, which in three rounds had been provided humanitarian assistance for the past months, had also placed in storage more than 400,000 quintals of wheat and 2.5 million litres of cooking oil for distribution to those in need. In addition, close to 14million litres of fuel have been left in fuel depots within the region for utilization by citizens prior to the withdrawal of the ENDF.

It is to be noted that unfettered humanitarian access has been provided for partners and international aid organizations to avail the required assistance. The Government of Ethiopia remains steadfast in its commitment to support the safe delivery of critical supplies to its people in the Tigray region, without endangering national security. Full permission for humanitarian flights to fly to the Tigray Region have been facilitated, on the condition that they depart from Addis Ababa and land in Addis Ababa on the return flight. The condition to pass through Addis Ababa is in keeping with the Constitutional duty of the Government to preserve national security – a sacrosanct duty it is obliged to honour. Two flights by the World Food Program (WFP) have already been made in the past week.

The Government of Ethiopia is also facilitating humanitarian convoys through the Afar region and is working to fast-track security checks on the trucks to avoid delays. Relatedly, we once again condemn the attack by TPLF on an aid convoy on 18 July 2021, along the Semera-Abala road. The obstruction of humanitarian assistance to those in need within the region by the terrorist group TPLF for political gains is an act that should also be condemned by the international community. TPLF’s continued provocations directed at the Ethiopian National Defence Force, through the use of child soldiers and armed civilians, attempting to draw our forces into an altercation, need to also be strongly condemned by the international community.

The Government of Ethiopia has been working tirelessly in collaboration with development partners to ensure continued supplies of food and medicine to those that are in desperate need of it. It will continue to work with its humanitarian partners to prevent breaks in humanitarian operations and for assistance to reach all affected communities.

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Ethiopia and Luxembourg sign a convention on the avoidance of double taxation

Ethiopia and Luxembourg signed an Agreement on the Elimination of Double Taxation with Respect to Taxes on Income and on Capital and the Prevention of Tax Evasion and Avoidance on June 29, 2021, in the city of Luxembourg.

The agreement was signed by H.E. Hirut Zemene, Ambassador of Ethiopia to Belgium, Luxembourg and EU Institutions and H.E. Pierre Gramegna, Minister of Finance of the Grand Duchy of Luxembourg.

On the occasion, the two sides exchanged views on ways to boost their bilateral cooperation as well as current situations in Ethiopia.
Upon entry into force, the agreement is expected to further develop the economic relationship and enhance the cooperation in tax matters between the two countries.

Ethiopia and Luxembourg have enjoyed diplomatic relations for close to a century.

DECISION BY THE FEDERAL GOVERNMENT OF ETHIOPIA IN RESPONSE TO THE PROPOSAL OF THE TIGRAY PROVISIONAL ADMINISTRATION TO RESOLVE THE CHALLENGES FACING THE TIGRAY REGION

On the 29 of June 2021, the Tigray Provisional Administration has requested the Federal Government to enact a humanitarian ceasefire in the Tigray region. The provisional administration’s request came after due consideration of the needs on the ground and following the consultations with academics, business community and religious leaders and elders from the Region.

The Federal government understands that the people of Tigray, especially those in the rural areas, have suffered greatly. Battling desert locust, the COVID19 pandemics, the displacement and interruption of farming activities due to the criminal clique’s instigation of violent conflict have left many in the region exposed to untold suffering. Thus, the Federal government believes that the current challenge in the Tigray Region needs to be addressed expeditiously given the risk of humanitarian crisis confronting our people.

Despite the Federal government’s effort to facilitate unfettered humanitarian access, humanitarian workers still face challenges to reach all areas in the region to deliver urgently needed humanitarian assistance to those in need and avert potential risk of serious food insecurity. Moreover, while efforts are underway to provide agricultural inputs to the farmers, it has been difficult to ensure that all farmers in the region are able to plant during this farming season. It is essential that the planting season ahead is not disrupted lest farming communities will miss it with grave consequences for their livelihoods. There is also an urgent need to accelerate the return of internally displaced persons to their place of origin. This is a challenge that needs to be addressed as soon as practically possible.

In light of the foregoing, the Federal government has decided to address the above challenges in a forthright, frank, and bold manner. Accordingly, it has decided to enact a Unilateral Humanitarian Ceasefire (pause in military activities), which takes immediate effect as of today 28th June 2021 with a view to addressing the above-mentioned challenges. The Federal government has decided to do so with the conviction that this measure will help ensure better humanitarian access and strengthen the effort to rehabilitate and rebuild the Tigray region. Therefore, all Federal and Regional civil and military institutions have been ordered to implement the ceasefire in accordance with the directions set out by the Federal Government.

However, it should be understood that this measure taken by the Federal government is in no way designed to allow impunity, as this would severely harm the cause of justice and sustainable peace. It should be abundantly clear that the Government will ensure full accountability for crimes committed, whoever might be responsible for the atrocities. The Federal government takes this opportunity to call upon all stakeholders, both domestic and international, to assist in the full and effective implementation of the humanitarian ceasefire. The magnitude of damage caused by the enemies of peace is indeed enormous and rehabilitating the region certainly requires the concerted effort of all stakeholders.

The Federal government would also like to underscore that the aforementioned step is being taken in recognition of its heavy responsibilities in ensuring that the people of Ethiopia work together, in order to realize a united, democratic, and prosperous Ethiopia.

The successful completion of the 6th National Elections in Ethiopia has clearly demonstrated the strong commitment of the Ethiopian people to decide on their own fate and destiny through a democratic and peaceful process. Standing in line for hours and staying late through the night, Ethiopians from all walks of life have sent a strong signal that they are ready to work together to build a stronger, united, and democratic Ethiopia, removing the seeds of discord and division sown within the Ethiopian body politic.

Deputy Prime Minister and Foreign Minister Demeke Mekonnen and State Minister Ambassador Redwan briefed the diplomatic community in Addis Ababa on unilateral Humanitarian Ceasefire

H.E. Demeke Mekonnen, Deputy Prime Minister and Foreign Minister of Ethiopia, and H.E. State Minister Ambassador Redwan Hussein gave a briefing to ambassadors and representatives of international organizations on the rationale of declaring a unilateral humanitarian ceasefire in Tigray.

In his speech, the Deputy Prime Minister and Foreign Minister highlighted the various challenges that threatened to stall the multifaceted reform process in the country, including the unruly behavior of the TPLF which was culminated in its defeat.

He also said the Government of Ethiopia tackled all the challenges in the electoral process and managed to have a peaceful and credible election under the auspices of the Independent Electoral Board.

Speaking about the recently declared unilateral humanitarian ceasefire, Mr. Demeke said it was a bold and magnanimous decision that would benefit the people of Tigray.

The Deputy Prime Minister said, although the government’s declaration for the unilateral humanitarian ceasefire in Tigray took many by surprise, the decision was not taken abruptly.

He said the current government of Ethiopia if elected, was contemplating the importance of declaring a ceasefire and holding an inclusive dialogue with relevant stakeholders after the election, including innocent members of the TPLF.
In this regard, he said the international community should push with a concerted effort for the realization of the humanitarian ceasefire and urge the other side to abide by it.

The Government of Ethiopia expects the international community to understand the context that the ceasefire has been made and act neutrally to address problems that might further be exacerbated by provocative statements.

The international community should understand that the Government of Ethiopia has invested a lot in rebuilding destroyed infrastructure and restoring basic services in the region, despite the criminals took the lives of many people who were involved in such restoration and rehabilitation works.

In this regard, unless the terrorist element in the region is forced to accept the ceasefire, the government of Ethiopia cannot afford to lose more lives and guarantee the protection of the lives of service givers and humanitarian operators.

What the government guarantee at this time is to make sure that all of the humanitarian supports are safely delivered to humanitarian actors to the borders of the Tigray region.

Although a ceasefire has been declared, the government is still committed to supporting the UN-EHRC joint investigations on the alleged atrocities committed in the region, in addition to reiterating its call to the African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights to resume the joint investigation with the Federal Government of Ethiopia.

The Deputy Prime Minister also expressed his profound appreciation for humanitarian operators who have been supplying all the necessary support to those in need in the Tigray region and pledged to work closely with them in their noble mission.
Ambassador Redwan, on his part, listed out the main reasons that the government of Ethiopia decided to evacuate its troops from Tigray and declare the unilateral humanitarian ceasefire.

According to Ambassador Redwan, the Government of Ethiopia has decided to withdraw its soldiers from Tigray assessing that most of the political and military leaders of the TPLF have been either killed or imprisoned.

As neutralizing or apprehending the criminals was one of the objectives of launching the law enforcement operation in the region, he said protracting the conflict just to upend the remaining few TPLF leaders is not feasible.

A few months into the law enforcement operation, many people, including children, have been used as human shields to cover the TPLF leaders, which made it dangerous to make a surgical operation in neutralizing the wanted criminals and the Ethiopian government had to call on the ceasefire to save innocents.

Given the irresponsible nature of the terrorist group, he said, the federal government should also show magnanimity and declare the ceasefire, understanding that the people in the region should use the farming season undisturbed.

Although the frequent calls of humanitarian operators for unfettered access in the region were caused by the atrocious acts of the criminal group, the government has to declare the unilateral humanitarian ceasefire to give chances for humanitarian actors to save more lives, he added.

According to Ambassador Redwan, the government also needed to declare the ceasefire, understanding that the first receivers of the brunt of the conflict are the people of Tigray who deserve peace and seek a peaceful solution to the problem.

Before the TPLF attacked the Northern Command of ENDF, they were funding and masterminding conflicts in many parts of Ethiopia, which caused untold suffering on the people of Ethiopia, he said.
We want the international community to know that we are dealing with a rogue element who, despite the ceasefire, publicly vowed to attack the Amhara region and pursue Eritrean forces crossing the borders, he said, although the group continued to lament that the Eritrean troops didn’t leave the Region.

According to our sources, after the withdrawal of our forces, he said, the TPLF has made ethnically motivated killings that took the lives of 70 people in Mekelle, most of whom were working under the interim administration of Tigray.

Although the media have been caught up with the destruction of a bridge over Tekeze River, pointing fingers on the government as usual, he said the fact is that there were two more bridges destroyed by the group.

We cannot force organizations to continue giving their services, such as flights, banking, and telecommunication if we fail to guarantee the protection of their lives. The other party has to stop belligerence for that to happen.

According to data found from the Ministry of Agriculture of Ethiopia, 400,000 quintals of seeds and fertilizers had been stored in Mekelle, well beyond the needs of the farmers in the Tigray region, he said.

In finalizing his briefing, Ambassador Redwan reiterated the federal government’s commitment to work closely with the humanitarian operators, addressing their quest for access to communication equipment, visa and others through proper channels of the government which has already been set up.

The ambassadors, the diplomatic community, and representatives of international agencies have participated in a question and answer session raising some of their concerns and also appreciating the government of Ethiopia for declaring the humanitarian ceasefire and conducting peaceful and credible elections.

The spokesperson of Foreign Affairs of Ethiopia gives the Ministry’s biweekly press briefing

Press Briefing Summary 01 July 2021
The spokesperson of Foreign Affairs of Ethiopia, H.E. Ambassador Dina Mufti, gave the Ministry’s biweekly press briefing July 01, 2021, to the media. In his presentation, the Ambassador focused on political diplomacy, the humanitarian ceasefire in Tigray, Economic and citizen-centered diplomatic activities over the week.

I. #PoliticalDiplomacy
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Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs of Ethiopia, H.E. Demeke Mekonnen met on Monday (June 28) with Graham Maitland, UN Director for Eastern African Division of the Department of Political and Peace Building Affairs and Operations. The two sides, among others, have discussed Sudan’s request to the UN to remove the Ethiopian peacekeepers from the disputed Abyei region. In this regard, Mr. Demeke said Ethiopia’s force members are paying sacrifices to prevent war, and their exit, if necessary, has to be with the consent of stakeholders and in a dignified manner. The Deputy Prime Minister also questioned the morality of some UN agencies in politicizing and unnecessarily echoing the cases of some Ethiopian soldiers who dramatize their defect from their unit just to get acceptance to their asylum quests.
Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs, H.E. Demeke Mekonnen bade farewell on Monday (June 28) the outgoing Ambassador of the Hashemite kingdom of Jordan to Ethiopia, H.E. Wafi Ayyad. Mr. Demeke said the relationship between the two countries is long and historic, adding that the two countries need to further strengthen bilateral cooperation in various fields. In connection with their discussion on GERD, the Deputy Prime Minister expressed his dissatisfaction with the Arab League’s unfair stance on the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam. He also said that Jordan was expected to play a positive role as a friendly country in this regard.

The Intergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD) Council of Ministers has held its 72nd extraordinary meeting virtually on Thursday (June 24) chaired by the Chairperson of the Council of Ministers and Minister of Foreign Affairs of Sudan, H.E. Mariam al-Sadiq al-Mahdi. Ambassador Birtukan Ayano representing Ethiopia, said the 6th national election in Ethiopia ended peacefully with the participation of nearly 40 million voters and thanked member countries and institutions for their support in this regard. The meeting ended in a constructive manner where all the speakers praised the electoral process in Ethiopia, Djibouti, and Uganda, and gave due attention to outstanding issues of member states that were held as agenda items.

In a letter sent to the president of the United Nations Security Council (UNSC) on Wednesday (June 23), Ethiopia rejected the latest attempts made by Egypt and Sudan to seeking the involvement of the Security Council over the GERD issue outside of its mandate. Ethiopia said in the letter that Egypt and Sudan’s recent actions are simply a continuation of a well-orchestrated scheme to undermine the AU-led process and eventually declare it ineffective adding that this only erodes trust between the three countries. The letter concluded its explanation of Ethiopia’s stand over the tripartite negotiations by calling on the Security Council to encourage Egypt and Sudan to continue negotiating in good faith under the auspices of the African Union.

II. #HumanitarianCeasefire

A. Following the declaration of the unilateral ceasefire by the government of Ethiopia in the Tigray region, Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed spoke with the media; Deputy Prime Minister Demeke Mekonnen addressed Ethiopian mission leaders via zoom while State Minister Ambassador Redwan Hussien and General Bacha Debele jointly briefed the media regarding the unilateral ceasefire that the government declared in Tigray. The main points on the necessity of humanitarian ceasefire are:

• Law enforcement objectives- the ceasefire considered the objectives of the law enforcement operation, survival of the nation, concerns of the people of Tigray, and the international community.
• Threat to the State- During the operation the government aimed to neutralize TPLF militarily, recapture or destroy looted ammunition, set Ethiopian troops free from TPLF, and hold criminals accountable for their impunity. In this regard, the government met the objectives, and despite its propaganda, TPLF is no longer an existential threat to the well-being of the nation.
• Ethnically motivated propaganda and attack on soldiers- Although TPLF’s capacity to launch conventional war was neutralized within three weeks and many insurgents were decimated through time, the government declared the ceasefire because the Ethiopian army was not ready to exchange fires with people in Tigray who have been misled by the ethnically charged propaganda of the TPLF.
• Time for inward looking moment: the ceasefire would help the people of Tigray to reflect on the pros and cons of colluding with a terrorist group to fight the Ethiopian troops who were providing protection and humanitarian aid in the region.
• Agricultural reasons- the people of Tigray should get undisturbed time for agricultural activities during the rainy seasons. Although TPLF is irresponsible, the government should not be tempted to go through the stubborn stance of TPLF to continue fighting despite the food insecurity in the region.
• Neutralising third parties: the government has observed that there were too many attempts to interfere in the internal affairs of Ethiopia and weaken the state under the disguise of what they call solving the “crisis” in Ethiopia
• International community: The unilateral ceasefire is also an attempt to address the major concerns of the international community for cessation of hostility, unimpeded access to the region, and the withdrawal of Eritrean troops, he said. In line with this the international community now is expected to scale up much-needed humanitarian support to the people of Tigray and give due attention to the recent TPLF bravado belittling the ceasefire and threatening to launch attacks against the Amhara region and Eritrea.
• Mekelle forceful capture or evacuation? the Ethiopian army was evacuated from Mekelle because Mekelle has ceased to be the center of gravity that is capable of posing a threat to the nation and the federal government. The Ethiopian army was not dislodged by the TPLF from Mekelle. The group was defeated in a 3-weeks swift conventional war while it was armed to teeth but now its military, administrative and organizational structure is obliterated and could not make the Ethiopian forces leave the city by force.
• External threat the army has to refocus its attention to protecting the country from another national threat, this time an external one, rather than fighting the already incapacitated TPLF.

General Bacha further said the army is ready to respond accordingly if unduly provoked by attacks that compromise the spirits of the ceasefire.

B. Reactions from the International Community

African Union, China, UAE, United Nations, United States, Sweden have welcomed the ceasefire although some were cautious in this regard. Their major point is that all conflicting parties should strive for peace and be willing for further dialogue.

III. Economic Diplomacy
Finance Ministers of Djibouti, Ethiopia, Kenya, Somalia and Sudan under the Horn of Africa Initiative (HoAI) met on Saturday (June 26) in Djibouti to evaluate progress witnessed so far in areas such as trade and energy and to discuss the way forward.

IV . #Citizencentred Diplomacy

• The repatriation of a large number of undocumented Ethiopian migrants who have been detained for more than a year inside Saudi Arabia refugee camps has begun on Saturday (June 26) with up to 8 flights per day. The plan is to evacuate 40,000 Ethiopians from Saudi Arabia within 2 weeks. We have repatriated 9,902 Ethiopians from Saudi Arabia since last Saturday with 35 flights.
• We have also repatriated 33 Ethiopians form Hargeisa and 73 from Puntland.
• Ethiopia contributes a replica of Lucy to be displayed at UNESCO headquarters on Friday (June 25). H.E. Dr. Hirut Kassaw, Minister of Culture and Tourism delivered recorded remarks for the ceremony.The event was addressed by H.E. Director-General Audrey Azoulay, H.E Ambassador Henok Teferra, some of the co-discoverer Professors Donald Johansen and Ives Coppens, Ambassadors accredited at UNESCO and invited guests. The display highlights the fact that Ethiopia is the land of origins and a symbol of our common humanity.
• Alliance for GERD in Canada, Manitoba chapter in collaboration with the Ethiopian Embassy in Canada have managed to collect 44,575 Canadian dollars while Ethiopians in Frankfurt, Germany, under the auspices of the Consulate have bought 16, 000 worth of GERD bond while Bedir Ethiopia Ethiopian Muslims Organization in the US in collaboration with the embassy in Washington has collected 50,000 US dollar via zoom meeting.