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H. E. Mr. Seyoum Mesfin, Minister for Foreign Affairs

29 September 2008

Statement Summary

SEYOUM MESFIN, Minister of Foreign Affairs of Ethiopia, said a number of development efforts, including the pursuit of the Millennium Development Goals, had been a central element of his country’s recent millennium celebrations.  Yet, it was alarming that a number of countries were unlikely to meet those goals by 2015.  With the world facing a “development emergency”, decisive and timely actions were needed by both developed and developing countries in living up to their commitments.

Because food insecurity could undermine core democratic values and ruin national development endeavours, Governments had to work together in the economic sector to resolve the current global food crisis.  Saying the 2002 Monterrey Consensus on financing for development was a litmus test for the success of global partnerships, he called on developed countries to honour their commitment of 0.7 per cent of their gross domestic product on overseas development assistance.

The Millennium Development Goals provided the “critical minimum” for Ethiopia’s survival as a nation, he said, adding that his country had laid the foundations for continued growth and democratization, by building democratic institutions from the grassroots and providing political space for responsible democratization.  Its 10 per cent average growth over the last five years was continuing despite recent setbacks.  As both a landlocked and one of the least developed countries, it attached great importance to both the Brussels and the Almaty Programmes of Action.

But, while his country appreciated all external assistance, it was equally conscious of the need for predictable, strong and enduring partnerships for mutual benefit.  Economic relations that did not penalize poor countries were needed.  He urged realistic preferential terms of trade to these countries, including quota and duty-free market access for all their goods and services.

Saying that sustainable development would only be possible with durable peace and security, he emphasized the role a revitalized Intergovernmental Authority for Development could play in ensuring regional integration and promoting peace, security and development.  Ethiopia had been committed to peace in Somalia since it helped organize the first broad-based peace conference there in 1992, and had consistently supported all efforts to bring about an effective Government there.

It was, thus, encouraged by the latest positive political developments in Somalia.  But while the Djibouti Agreement and the Addis Ababa road map had opened the way for further progress, he also urged the Security Council to discharge its responsibility by deploying a peacekeeping mission in Somalia as soon as possible.  At the very least, the Council should allocate the necessary resources to strengthen the African Union Mission in Somalia (AMISOM).

Continuing, he urged the parties to the Comprehensive Peace Agreement in the Sudan to do more in overcoming the challenges facing them, while also emphasizing that the international community had to bear its shared responsibility in that regard.  Ethiopia fully supported the African Union’s position on Darfur and its handling of the International Criminal Court and the Sudan issue.  It was further firmly committed to resolving all outstanding issues with Eritrea through peaceful, political, legal and diplomatic means.

Right of Reply (29 September 2008)

The representative of Ethiopia, speaking in exercise of the right of reply, rejected the claim by the Eritrean delegate of sovereignty over territory owned by Ethiopia, saying Eritrea was now also illegally occupying Djibouti’s territory.  Concerning its “rogue politics”, Eritrea must be told that enough was enough.  There was “a one man show in Asmara” and that was the President who acted as both the Government and the State.  The President of Eritrea had no regard for accountability and ruled not by a constitution, but by absolute dictatorship.  It was a country in isolation acting as a ruthless regime.

Concerning Somalia, he said Ethiopia was there not as an invading force, but by the invitation of Somalia’s Transitional Federal Government.  Moreover, Ethiopia was a force for stabilization and it was Eritrea that was hosting terrorists, as affirmed by the Security Council.  The actions taken by Asmara were unacceptable to the civilized world.  Eritrea refused to coexist with Ethiopia and the region.  Eritrea’s troubles with its neighbours were not the result of something concerning one boundary, but stemmed from the belligerence of its own Government.  Ethiopia agreed with the Security Council that the primary solution to the dispute between Ethiopia and Eritrea rested with the parties themselves.  Eritrea had to understand that violence was unacceptable and that peaceful means must be used to resolve disputes.

[Source: GA/10758]


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