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Upon his request, The Director General for Africa (Sub-Saharan Africa) at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of spain, Ambassador Raimundo Robredo Rubio, visited the Council on the 15th of the current month of July, accompanied by the First Secretary of the Embassy in Cairo. The meeting was attended by Ambassadors Dr. Mounir Zahran, Chairman of the Council; Dr. Ezzat Saad, Director of the Council; and Marwan Badr, Coordinator of the Standing Committee on African Affairs at the Council.
The Spanish guest noted that he is on a flying visit to Cairo, where he met, this morning, Ambassadors Amr Ramadan, Assistant Foreign Minister for European Affairs of Egypt; Abu Bakr Hefni, Assistant Foreign Minister for African Affairs; and Osama Shaltout, Assistant Foreign Minister for Sudanese Affairs; where views were exchanged about the overall situation in the African Continent, especially in the Horn of Africa, in addition to the opportunities for a Spanish-Egyptian cooperation in the Continent, indicating that they have adopted a strategy for dealing with Africa in the forthcoming phase, especially in light of the growing interest of Spanish companies to work there, likewise their interest to work in Latin America.
The guest was interested to learn from the council about the developments in the Horn of Africa, the challenges facing the region and the role that can be played by the European Union and Spain in this regard. He also asked about the Council’s vision towards the situations in Sudan, Ethiopia and Sahel Region.
The Spanish Ambassador acknowledged that the international community shows some kind of complacency towards some countries including Ethiopia, whilst being stricter with others, noting that this was the topic of a conversation he had with the current Ambassador of Ethiopia to Cairo, when they worked together in South Africa.
He added that what matters to them is the stability of Ethiopia. Therefore they support Abiy Ahmed in this transitional phase, which does not mean they support all Ethiopian policies. In addition, they do not believe in an African Horn that is solely confined to Somalia and Ethiopia. The Spanish guest mentioned that they want all the donor community to bear the burden of funding the 100% European Union-funded peacekeeping forces in Somalia, expressing his regret over the lack of interest some donors are showing, such as the United Arab Emirates, towards the regional safety and Somali territorial integrity. He added that Spain has a greater interest in the nearby Sahel region, and noted that they are convinced of the importance of reducing the funding provided by European Union to peacekeeping forces in Somalia, especially after Brexit.
In connection with the foregoing, Ambassador Marwan Badr commented that, by virtue of his previous work as an ambassador in both Kenya and Ethiopia, he wishes to emphasize that the latter does not view the stability of Somalia as serving its interests, unlike Kenya, but is working to keep it divided into states. He added that he believes that reducing Ethiopian influence on Somalia will restore security and stability to this state. Ambassador Badr’s comment came in response to the Spaniard’s statement that Kenya is strengthening its relations with Somali Jubaland on its borders, while UAE supports Somaliland, something that impedes the return of stability to that country.
Ambassador Badr concluded by stating that all of this confirms that IGAD is an ineffective regional grouping in light of Ethiopia’s domination over it and using it to serve its own interests.