Relations between Egypt and Ethiopia after the Inauguration of Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed
On the 4th of July 2018, a panel discussion was held at the headquarters of the council on “ Developments of the situation in Ethiopia … and the prospects for Egyptian Ethiopian relations after the inauguration of Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed” , with the participation of Their Excellencies Ambassadors Ezzat Saad; Marwan Badr; Salah Halima; Ali Al-Hefny; Dr.Amany Al-Taweel, Director of African Studies Unit at Al-Ahram Center for Political &Strategic Studies; and Ambassador Abdel-Hamid Nasser Mouhamed Hamzawy, Deputy Assistant Foreign Minister for Nile Basin Countries Affairs.
The panel discussion aimed at conducting consultative discussions on the implications of what happened in Ethiopia since last March after resignation of the former Prime Minister Desalegn and election of Abiy Ahmed as Prime Minister, and the implications of this has over Ethiopia’s overall foreign policy, especially relations with neighboring regional countries and with Egypt in particular, in the light of the step taken by Ethiopia towards recognition of the verdict of the Arbitration Commission on the Ethiopian- Eritrean border dispute, and Ahmed’s tours in a number of Countries in the Region including Egypt, as well as the actions he took at the domestic level and his talks about a comprehensive economic reform process.
The participants agreed upon a number of points including:
The new Prime minister adopted a conciliatory approach aiming at settling all key disputes between Ethiopia and the other parties, seeking a “ Zero Enemies” policy. He had paid official visits to all neighboring countries and to countries that are pivotal to Ethiopia where he visited Kenya, Djibouti, Uganda, Egypt, Saudi Arabia, UAE. His tours to neighboring countries also included both of Somalia and Sudan. One of the axes of his strategic policies was to seek providing his landlocked Country with sea outlets. Under his reign, Ethiopia is planning to build a navy. All of which – in their entirety- are issues that have profound significance and clear indications in connection with Egyptian National Security in the Horn of Africa and in the Red Sea Regions which may contribute in enhancement of the relations between Egypt and Ethiopia within the framework of common interests and mutual security.
It is important for Egypt to coordinate with Saudi Arabia and UAE regarding its relations with the region as well as with Ethiopia particularly in light of the huge investments they have in the region, and Egypt should work for building its own mechanisms through intensifying direct investments of the Egyptian private sector in Ethiopia, and the possibility of considering establishment of partnerships between the private sector and the government in selected fields to serve the Egyptian strategic interests.
As regards the Renaissance Dam, the participants pointed out that during his visit to Egypt on the 12th and 13th of last June the Ethiopian prime Minister pledged not to effect on Egypt’s share of the Nile waters, and he swore that he would strive to increase it. This statement represents, if adhered to, an implicit recognition of the 1959 Convention. This also differs from the previous statements made by his predecessors as he follows a more flexible policy in responding to Egypt’s demands. This should be taken seriously for being a source of optimism in the possibility of détente in the Ethiopian attitude towards the Renaissance Dam.
Recommendations made by the participants included:
The significance of enhancing Egyptian-Ethiopian relations, and though the development of investment and economic relations has particular importance, adopting a comprehensive strategic vision for the development of political relations between both countries implies special significance.
It has been emphasized that any Egyptian strategy for the development of relations with Ethiopia necessitates the adoption of a wider strategy that includes the development of the relations with neighboring Countries in various fields, and that speaking about Egyptian-Ethiopian relations in absence of a clear Egyptian agenda in the Horn of Africa region would be a waste of time. And that the more our relations develop with East African Countries and with the Countries of the Horn of Africa to the best, is meaning more positive impact on the relations with the Ethiopians.
Adopting the idea of establishing an economic community that includes Ethiopia, Egypt, Sudan, South Sudan and In this context, Ethiopia can be included in a system on security and cooperation in the red sea region.