ENM President Yilkal Getenet Press Conference


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ENM President Yilkal Getenet Press Conference Addis Abeba has served as the Headquarters of the OAU. In the earliest times of the OAU, Ethiopia provided not only land and buildings, but also offered all the human and physical facilities that the OAU required. In 1963, Nigeria, and in the early inception of the AU, Senegal and later on Libya under Colonel Muammar Qaddafi, attempted to move the seat of the OAU/AU from Addis Abeba. Despite these attempts however, the AU rules governing the hosting of AU summits designated Addis Abeba as the only headquarters of the AU, and agreed Ethiopia to host the January/February summit every year. However, individual member states could apply to host the June/July summit. The rotation of the June/July summit was originally devised to reduce the pressure from Colonel Qaddafi as a compromise deal to have two summits per annum and the rotation of the June/July to allow member states such as Libya to host summits. Ethiopia has a well articulated foreign and security policy called the Foreign Affairs and National Security Policy and Strategy (FANSPS). Its substantive anchor on development and stability as well as geographic focus on the Horn of Africa and Egypt reflects divergence from previous regime’s assessment of the state of affairs of Ethiopia and the means (including diplomacy) necessary to move forward. However, Ethiopia’s detailed policies towards the Horn of Africa and to that matter the entire Africa are not a substitute to its policy towards the AU for the following reasons: First, the AU, like any multilateral regional governance institution, constitutes more than a summation of the member states. AU’s norms, institutions and procedures do not readily aggregate the preferences of each member states, rather they look for an overlapping consensus as stated in the AU Constitutive Act and its various decision and policy making, and implementation organs. Thus, AU offers opportunities to countries like Ethiopia to influence, shape and impact continental policies that have bearings internally and regionally. Second, Ethiopia has always been home to the AU headquarters. This entails in the wording of FANSPS, ‘a special responsibility.’ In this regard, the most substantive statement in FANSPS reads: “Ethiopia all along steadfastly championed the cause of Africa and Africans dating back to a time when it stood virtually alone.” There has never been a time when Ethiopian governments shied away from taking up their responsibilities towards Africa. It can also be said that there was hardly any occasion when Ethiopia was refused political and diplomatic support from Africa when it was needed. This emphasises on historical support of the OAU/AU to Ethiopia’s interest, ensures AU’s continued and robust support to Ethiopia in the future. Third, indeed Ethiopia has hugely sacrificed its national interest in many occasions in support of Pan Africanism albeit only with general principles and ad hoc reactions dictated by dynamic circumstances. In spite of being the seedbed for Pan Africanism, the principal force for the establishment of the OAU, and the host of the AU for five decades, Ethiopia lacks a self-contained comprehensive policy toward the AU that clearly articulates its national interest and how to strategically pursue these interests in the AU. Despite the absence of a full-fledged and self-contained policy, throughout the past five decades, Ethiopia’s commitment, overall direction and contributions have been that of continuity and consistency.


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