Ethiopia: Turkey-led Talks with Somalia Go beyond Port Deal

Ambassador Nebiyu Tedla, the spokesperson for the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Ethiopia, provided an update on current diplomatic issues.

Among the topics addressed, the negotiations between Ethiopia and Somalia in Turkey’s capital, Ankara, emerged as the most significant.

The second round of Ethiopian-Somali negotiations, facilitated by Turkey, commenced in Ankara and is set to continue on September 2, 2024.

When asked about the potential for external interference in these negotiations, Ambassador Nebiyu emphasized Ethiopia’s historical commitment to safeguarding its national interests.

“Ethiopia has always negotiated to protect its national interests and has never surrendered to foreign interventions,” he stated.

“The bilateral negotiations in Ankara will proceed in a manner that protects our national interests. There is no external interference in these talks”, He added.

Ambassador Nebiyu also clarified that the port issue is not the sole item on the negotiation agenda. He mentioned that Ethiopia and Somalia are discussing the status of the peacekeeping mission deployed under the African Union’s auspices (ATMIS) and other pertinent issues.

Regarding Somaliland, which has been a point of contention between Ethiopia and Somalia, Ambassador Nebiyu noted, “The dispute is between Ethiopia and Somalia, not between Ethiopia and Somaliland. This is the reason why Somalia is not a part of the Turkey led negotiations.”

When asked what Ethiopia expects from the upcoming round of negotiations in Ankara, Ambassador Nebiyu responded, “We expect the negotiations on September 2, 2024, to restore the good relationship we previously had with Somalia.”

It is worth recalling that Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed signed a port agreement with Muse Bihi, the President of self-governing Somaliland, last January.

This agreement led to strained relations between Ethiopia and Somalia, with Mogadishu taking measures such as expelling the Ethiopian ambassador.

Ethiopia, however, chose a more restrained approach, asserting that the Memorandum of Understanding with Somaliland did not infringe upon any country’s sovereignty.

The African Union, IGAD, and the United States have all called for Ethiopia and Somalia to resolve their disputes diplomatically and avoid further escalation.

Ethiopia is one of the countries that have contributed peacekeeping troops to Somalia under the umbrella of the African Union to combat the Al-Shabaab terrorist group. Other contributing countries include Djibouti, Kenya, Uganda, and Burundi.

Somalia has announced two weeks before that it expects all Ethiopian soldiers on a peacekeeping mission in its country to be completely withdrawn by December 2024.


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