Delegation of the European Union to Ethiopia


Ethiopia: Remarks by the High Representative/Vice-President Josep Borrell, with Commissioner for Crisis Management Janez Lenarčič, during their visit to Addis Ababa

Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, 08/10/2020 - 20:07, UNIQUE ID: 201008_16

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Q. Besides this handover, what is the purpose of your visit here today and tomorrow? What do you plan to achieve? What are the main objectives?

It is a way of continuing our routine exchanges with our African partners.

Unfortunately, we have had to delay the Summit, but this gives us more time to continue keeping in touch. Today with the Prime Minister [of Ethiopia, Mr Abiy Ahmed Ali] and with the [Chairperson of the] African Union [Mr Moussa Faki], in order to also take into account the situation in the country.

When we came here some months ago, with the whole Commission, the situation was maybe better than now.

We know that things have become more complicated here in Ethiopia. And we want to express our concern, but also our availability for any kind of help that we can provide.

We want to really be the best partners for the African countries. Ethiopia is a light of hope in Africa, and we have to make sure that this light does not vanish.


Q. One of the important projects is the Grand Dam. You will talk about that as well, because it is important for climate change mitigation. If the European Union can help, how can it help to finish this project?

We are an observer on the negotiations between Ethiopia and Egypt and Sudan.

It is true that this dam is a geostrategic asset for the whole region –mainly for Ethiopia- but the interests of the neighbourhood countries have to be taken also into consideration. Things must be done in a way that everybody could have benefits.

We are going to talk about it. We are following the negotiations. Now that the first filling of the dam has been finished, we think it is time to look for a stable solution in agreement with the neighbours.

It is not an easy task, but we are participating in the talks and we are ready to support these talks in order to have a win-win situation for Ethiopia and for its neighbours.


Q. Mr Borrell, there are thousands of African migrants languishing in camps in Libya, mostly vulnerable people. They are trying to cross to Europe…

Europe is doing a lot for the migrants in Africa. First, by returning them to their origin countries, if they want to go back and then, by funding the NGOs and the United Nations institutions that take care of them as much as they can.

We know that this situation is not good. We know that Libya is a country at war and the government has a limited capacity of controlling what is happening there. We are very much concerned about the situation of the camps, which are not being run by the Government but by the militias, which are in touch with the smugglers and the traffickers of human beings.

We gave a lot of financial contribution to try to make their lives better and to try to help them to go back home. More than 40,000 migrants were sent back to their countries of origin last year thanks to the European Union. We have also a new migration deal in order to try to prevent illegal migration and, at the same time, to facilitate regular migration.

But Libya is a country at war and when a country is at war and the Government is weak, this kind of things are very difficult to fight.


Q. The African Union has discussed deploying 3,000 troops to the Sahel. This is something that came up at the Summit in February. What is the European Union’s position on a possible African Union deployment in the Sahel and what kind of role might the African Union play in coordinating that?

I do not see anything new to tell you, the only thing I could say is a speculation or hypothesis. First, let us try to stabilise Mali. The most important thing is to stabilise the new Government in Mali. Yesterday, I had a phone conversation with the new President of Mali [Mr Bah N’daw]. I praised him and I wished him the best and offered our cooperation.

Mali is a key piece - the Sahel will not be stable as far as Mali is not stable. I am going to go to the meeting with the G5 Sahel countries in a couple of weeks and visit Mali and maybe Burkina Faso.

We have to invest more in the political stability of the Sahel. But, you know, in Mali there are [inaudible] United Nations soldiers plus 5,000 French soldiers [in the Barkhane force deployed in Sahel] as well as several others. It is not the lack of [international] troops, there are more than [inaudible] soldiers, maybe a better, more efficient use of these military capacities that is needed.


Q. On the potentially tense elections in October in both Guinea and Côte d’Ivoire, with leaders seeking controversial terms, what is the European Union's position on their bids and what kind of engagement will the European Union have in the electoral process in these countries?

I do not know if we are going to send an electoral observation mission. I do not think so, it has not been requested. We are following the events, with strong concern because these elections, these two countries are the most stable countries in Africa. They are success stories, they are the ones on which the stability of the region depends a lot. We have to try to avoid that they fall in the instability that characterises many other African countries.

Thank you.


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