Photo - TPLF Deputy, Debretsion Gebremikael and Chairman, Abay Woldu, Nov. 2017, Mekelle
Unchanging for nearly 17 years, Ethiopian diplomacy is poised to undergo a radical overhaul
Under the auspices of the minister of foreign affairs Workneh Gebeyechu, an inner circle composed of Ethiopia's permanent representative to the UN, Tekeda Alemu, the diplomatic veteran and new ambassador to China, Berhane Gebre-Christos, and the vice president of the Ethiopian International Institute for Peace and Development, Moges Tesfamichael, is actively engaged in overhauling Ethiopian foreign policy. Their aim is to take account of the growing military and diplomatic cooperation between Ethiopia and Sudan (encouraged largely by Washington), the efforts on the part of Egypt to smooth its relations with Sudan, the rivalry between Iran and Saudi Arabia, and above all Ethiopia's interest in resuming relations and dialogue with its Eritrean rival. The Ethiopian government is, for instance, thinking of ceasing to arm Eritrean opposition groups, and at the most recent meeting of the TPLF central committee in Mekele the possibility of relinquishing Badme to Eritrea was discussed. Ethiopian diplomats would also like to maintain a delicate balance in relation to Mogadishu and Hargeisa. However, regarding the question of the dispute with Egypt over the sharing of Nile waters, their policy remains unchanged and Addis Ababa wants to keep up the pressure on Cairo and Khartoum to ratify the Entebbe accord, which stipulates the terms for redistributing the waters of the Nile. Overall, the country's new foreign policy will seek to emphasise Ethiopia's increasingly important role in regional mediation, especially when it comes to resolving the outstanding problems in South Sudan and Somalia. An initial outline of this foreign policy strategy will be discussed with the relevant parties at the end of January and the policy is due to be put into effect within the next six months.